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Botanical Medicine Movement, Halfway Through and Loving It

I started Botanical Medicine Movement on August 23rd. We began with botany, and it kicked my butt right out of the gate. At this point, I feel I’m getting a handle on it thanks to April and her patience.

Botany in a Day by Thomas J. Elpel has been a huge help in getting my head wrapped around all of this botany information. I’m starting to see and notice the different plant families. I’m still not able to remember their Botanical names but I can remember the common ones (Pea, Aster, Cypress, etc). I’m working on the Botanical name all the way around.

I started great in this course by completing everything each week, but as we progressed, I fell a bit behind. I believe currently I’m 1-3 classes behind where I should be. I realized that I fall behind if we have more than two weeks between in-person meetings.

Our first in-person meeting was at Pinckney Park on James Island. This park was created after we moved off James Island, so this was the first time I had been to this park. It is quite a cute little park. The class started with introductions and an overview of what we would be learning during the course. Then we were sent off to find a plant that calls to us. I ended up with Partridge pea. I also brought home wax myrtle to try. Turns out we have at least 2 in the driveway which is awesome since I want to try playing with the wax from the tree. I think it would be interesting to use in salves.

Our second in-person meeting was on Sept 15th at the park in Riverland Terrace where we learned to identify Sweet Gum, Camphor, Black Cherry, Sassafras, and Magnolia. The next day, Duncan and I went walking to see if we could find any of these plants. We found a lot of Sweetgum trees which I use to think were maple trees and two magnolias that I hadn't noticed before.

Our third in-person meeting was on Oct 12th at the Apothecary. We spent the evening reviewing botany terminology, and how to identify plants. We talked about the habit, leaf arrangement, shape, vestiture, venation, flower parts, and types. Then we strolled through the yard identifying many of the plants growing there.

To help with my studies Duncan and I attended the Herbal Walks in the Park sponsored by Charleston Parks Conservatory and hosted by April from Yahola Herbal School, yesterday. She covered four native or naturalized plants, Bald Cypress, Camphor, Goldenrod, and Spanish Moss.

While on the walk I collected a few Bald Cypress fruits/cones, Camphor babies, and a string of Spanish Moss. I plan to make the Bald Cypress and Camphor into infused oils, not together but separate oils. The Spanish Moss, I'm trying to grow like an air plant in the house.

I want to try mixing some of the camphor oil with my pain oil and see how well they complement each other. I'm a little concerned since I'm using fresh Camphor and Bald Cypress and I normally only use dried herbs for oil. I will have to watch the water content and see if I can evaporate off the water. Worse case I can freeze it to get the separation, but I don't want to stress the oil that much if I don't have to.

I have to say that so far Botanical Medicine Movement has been the best course I have ever taken. Others have been great but so far what I’m learning in this course is so much more helpful to me overall. It has even made things I have learned in other courses finally click and everything I’m learning in this course I can walk outside and use. No ordering herbs, waiting for them to get here, and only being able to work with dried herbs since they don’t grow around you. Begin able to go out and see, feel, and harvest the plants I’m learning about is making learning each of them much easier and I feel more confident in what I know.

Here are a few pictures of different plants I have learned about during this course so far.

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