White pine can taste astringent. Have you tried it? What did the word ‘astringent’ make you feel? Did your lips start to pucker and tongue dry up just hearing the word? Then you are aware of plant energetics.
What else do I have in this decoction that I have wild-thinged into this new calendar year? I say ‘wild-thinged’ and you pictured me plunging my fists into herb jars and thrusting plants wildly into a bowl. Memories of childhood fiction?
Sendak’s wild thing would feel at home in the forest with this one, a super strong decoction of fresh white pine, wild cherry bark, elderberries, cinnamon bark, and fennel seed. I’m not sure what was possessing me other than a longing for woods and cold weather deciduous hikes toting rich, steamy tea in a thermos. This Appalachian heart is feeling the pull of roots this week. Instinctively, perhaps, adding herbs matching the energetics we are craving right now in our home. Notably those digestive activators.
I just foraged a ton of white pine up the hill at my West Virginia childhood home. It was a quick visit and forage because the pandemic has us all fearing we'll endanger our elders. We come from the city. Folks out where she lives aren't as numerous and weren't so concerned until recently. even small populations aren't safe from this creeping, invasive virus.
The elderberries are foraged from the city neighborhood lawns near our home. Our little community is very forward-thinking in terms of ecology. It's quite an evolution from the time we moved here 9 years ago when most of the homeowners were original 1950s and 60s homeowners. We've watched the neighborhood begin to heal and flourish, though some strongholds remain and continue routine set decades ago.
I really just wanted a nice tart, sweet syrup that would help with these little cold~warm weather respiratory ups and downs. Second decoction is just as tasty as the first, though a tad weaker so we drank it as tea all day. It's so lovely to have a pine foresty aromatic decoction on the stove all day, warming the house with its aroma, warming our tummies, and cooling and toning our respiratory tracts. Pine isn't the only astringent, drying herb here. When you study herbal energetics, you learn more about how a plant and you will interact. This blend is a balancing antiviral astringent with tummy settling fennel.
Forest Coughberry Syrup
Makes 24 ounces
3 Tbsp dried wild cherry bark
2 Tbsp white pine needles, snapped or snipped or whole
2 Tbs elderberries
1 Tbsp fennel
1 cinnamon sticks broken up into chips
Now all the little herbalists want is to make soda every lunch time. And that's fine by me.
Sarah is a community herbalist, raising children, teaching children and adults the ways of herbalism and nature, and handcrafting herbal products for the community.