Natural herbs

Characteristics

A herb means a wild or cultivated plant which can be used as nutrition, spice, ingredient for a drink, drug or in cosmetic products. There are large amount of plants in Finnish nature that people can utilize but all usage possibilities are still unknown. Only 28 species are harvested and grown as commercial herb but only few herbs have economic importance. Harvested plants are including wild strawberry, pine, heather, blueberry and dandelion. Aroma concentration in herbs are often high by reason of clean nature and long summer days and abundant sunlight.

Herbs harvested from the nature contain very little energy, lots of fiber and they contain also lot of minerals and different vitamins. Specially familiar herb nettle is a powerhouse of nutrient. It contains a wide range of different nutrients and it can be considered as very good source of vitamin C, iron and calcium.

Usage

Herbs can be used including as food supplement, ingredient of tea and other herb drinks, spices and extract. Plants and parts of plant are also harvested for natural dyeing and including nettles for example for weaving. Fragrances are also their own sphere. Bags of fragrances are not suitable for homes of allergic but earlier different fragrance bags were used for example in linen cabinets to give the linen pleasant scent.

Herbs are used in beauty and health care externally for poultice and for lotion. Herbs are used less often in pottering but in different kinds of decorations herbs can be utilized. Dried or pressed parts of plant can be used also for making hand-made cards. So that it would be possible to use herbs year round they can be preserved, frozen or dried for later use. 

Availability

Nature offers a rich harvest of wild herbs during the spring and early summer. Fresh, nutrient-rich salads, spices and herbal drink ingredients are found in local nature. Natural herbs can be retrieved already early spring, long before cultivated plants can be utilized. Harvesting time is however brief because the green parts of the plants are at their best before flowering. Nettle can be cut during the whole summer when it grows again new fresh shoots to harvest. Also lady’s-mantle grows new growth when its inflorescence is removed. Harvesting herbs near roads, industrial areas and busy urban areas must remember to avoid.

Herbs are harvested always on a dry day because rain flushes lot of important substances from the plant. Herbs harvested wet also get bad more easily. Before recognized plant is picked up must remember to check that it is looking healthy and flawless. The herbs are sorted already at the harvesting phase into their own lockers. It is wise to walk in nature with a map so good habitats for plants can be marked. So roots of the plants can be found more easily in the spring and next year it is easy to remember where herbs are growing.

Links

Information about natural herbs:
http://www.arktisetaromit.fi/fi/arktiset+aromit/yrtit/luonnonyrtit/
http://www.jyu.fi/tdk/museo/Yrtit/page28.html
http://www.tts.fi/Eliaksenyrttitarha/kasviluettelo.htm

Sources:
Arktiset Aromit
Eliaksen yrttitarha
Keski-Suomen luontomuseo
Wikipedia
Luonnossa.net