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Wild Harvesting Adventure ~ Willow

Wild Harvesting Adventure ~ Willow

  • WHEN:  May 27, 2023
  • TIME:  9:00 am to 2:00 pm
  • FEE:  $115.00 USD
  • INSTRUCTOR:  Suzanne Tabert
  • SETTING:  In-Person
  • LOCATION:  Sandpoint, ID

(details & directions provided after enrollment)

You’ll learn more than you thought possible about amazingly versatile willow and spend the day out in nature in the fresh air harvesting and processing your bounty right on the sandbar next to a peaceful creek.

Willow, Salix spp. There are 90 plus species of Salix in the Pacific Northwest and Inland West and each contain salicylates and other medicinal constituents to a greater or lesser degree. Willow is an excellent pain reliever, fever reducer, and anti inflammatory herb, and it can be used in a toner to reduce and eliminate breakouts and ingrown hairs.

Salicin is a glycoside found in willow’s bark and leaves. Our bodies metabolize salicin and convert it to salicylic acid in the liver and intestines. And so, unlike aspirin or other NSAID pain relievers, there are no adverse effects on the gastrointestinal mucosa. The effects of this different metabolic pathway also means that even though it may take longer to feel the effects, the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of willow can last longer and and be more effective in the long-term.

Willow is so much more than a pain reliever though ~ Among the many constituents in willow is apigenin, a flavonoid shown to possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer properties. It has been suggested that apigenin and other flavonoids in willow may be protective in other diseases that are affected by oxidative process such as cardiovascular and neurological disorders. Willow is also particularly helpful remedy for various skin conditions. It promotes exfoliation, increases cell turnover, is astringent and improves the appearance and health of skin.

Being a bitter herb, willow can play a big part in digestive, immune and nerve health. The American diet does not contain a wealth of foods in the bitter profiles, however, it’s the very bitterness that makes willow so valuable. CMHS’s motto is: Getting the medicine to the people in ways they’ll enjoy taking so that healing can occur. We’ll explore ways to make the medicine of willow palatable.

Depending on the constituents that are required for their unique benefits, willow can be utilized as a tea, syrup, honey, witch hazel or alcohol tincture and medicinal oil.

We can utilize willow to encourage vigorous rooting when transplanting plants and making hugelkultur guilds. Willow even encourages the immune system of apple and other fruit trees to be more vigorous. Learn all about this AND how to make willow fencing.

There is so much to talk about in terms of willow’s medicine – it’s bark peeling time! We’ll spend the day on the banks of the Lightning Creek in Clark Fork, discussing the medicine and lore of willow, harvesting, peeling the bark, and making remedies to take home.

Of course, it is important to learn where willow grows and be able to correctly identify it. You will learn botanical and ecological features including how to tell if a willow is male or female, the best time of year to harvest, what part of the plant to harvest, and the best methods of preparation to create effective remedies! You’ll learn more than you thought possible about this amazing plant and spend the day in fresh air harvesting and processing your bounty as you watch the river flow peacefully by. Come ready to give your parasympathetic nervous system the day off.

It would be a fabulous idea to read CMHS articles on willow for extra information. Willow and Nature’s Pain Relievers before the harvest intensive. As a bonus, we will take time to explore the majestic cottonwood, a cousin to willow that embodies some of the same medicinal qualities as willow, yet stands alone in its own unique medicine.

We will also do some walking for a wild plant meet and greet when we are done with our willow lesson. Our forests are rich in medicinal plants!

What you’ll need:

  • Small clippers and large clippers (if you have the large)
  • A small towel or sheet for processing the bark
  • Paring knife and sturdy scissors or kitchen shears for scraping and cutting the bark
  • Something to sit on (low-sitting, small/tripod, normal)
  • 1/2 pint of honey (unpasteurized, local honey is best; liquid honey only – not spun or creamed)
  • 1/2 pint 80 or 100 proof alcohol-unflavored (vodka or brandy are good choices)
  • 1/2 pint witch hazel
  • 3 clean half pint jars with lids
  • Masking tape or labels and a sharpie pen
  • Notebook / pen
  • Lunch/water/a thermos of something warm to drink
  • Dress for the weather! Bring warm layers (rain gear!) and sturdy shoes!
  • Hand warmers are nice

P.S. It would be a fabulous idea to read CMHS articles on willow for extra information before the harvest intensive! Check out Salix ~ Willow and Cottonwood & Willow: Nature’s Pain Relievers.


We will meet at Suzanne’s farmlet in Sandpoint and carpool to our wild harvest site (address and directions will be emailed after enrollment). The workshop is open to registered students only. Please do not bring unregistered guests, pets or children.

We will be carrying our supplies over rocky terrain to our harvest site. It’ll be about a football field distance. Please bear this in mind when you choose what to pack your gear in.

WORKSHOP REFUND POLICY: Refunds will gladly be given minus a 20% processing fee up to 7 days before a community workshop. We have a no refunds policy for cancelling 7 days or less before a workshop and for no-shows. No exceptions can be made. Thank you for understanding. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you might have before registering.