Harvesting in the Minesing Wetlands

The Minesing Wetlands is my favourite place to spend an afternoon, and it is the primary source of inspiration for The Willow's Bark.

This protected area is considered one of the largest intact wetlands in southern Ontario. With a habitat similar to boreal forests, coniferous swamps, and meadow marshes, it's a breading ground for over 220 bird species and more than 20 mammal species such as black bear, moose and white-tailed deer. 

The wetlands are shaped by beavers whose leaky dams filter and affect the flow of water, creating breeding grounds for other wildlife. Bisected by 4 rivers: the Nottawasaga River, Mad River, Willow Creek and Coates Creek, the Wetlands are a corridor for over 30 species of fish, amphibians,  and a rich resource of native medicinal plants and flowers. 

Today, I biked along the paths in search of Yarrow and the last of the St. John's wort. 

Yarrow (Achillia Milifolium) has been used for over 3000 years to treat external wounds, cuts and abrasions by cleansing and controlling bleeding.
It is also used internally to lessen menstrual cramps, menstrual bleeding, to heal gastrointestinal problems, improve circulation and, most notably, to lift a fever. 
You can make a tea out of the flowers and leaves, apply a cold compress to your forehead soaked in the same tea. Drawing a bath with yarrow tea will also relieve a fever. 
It is a decongestant, an expectorant, anti-inflammatory, astringent, and it fights bacteria. Yarrow promotes digestion by aiding the secretion of digestive juices and enzymes while also increasing appetite, making it a sufficient cure for digestive upsets. 
To harvest yarrow, you collect the flowering tops and leaves. I cut the stem low to the ground, remove the flowering tops, and then run my fingers down the stem to remove the leaves in one swift motion. I will be drying all of my yarrow and infusing it in oil that will later turn into a healing salve for wounds.