Prepare, Sustain, Thrive and Survive Simply

A Permaculture Plant Walk With Skeeter Pularski

Michael "Skeeter" Pularski

Skeeter Pularski

The Inland Northwest Permaculture Convergence at Heartsong Retreat Center near Tum Tum, Washington, Sept. 11 – 14, 2014 was an awesome weekend of food, fellowship, and learning about how to smartly do the best you can with what you’ve got when it comes to Mother Nature.

Skeeter Pularski, a walking encyclopedia on herbs and plants, led daily plant walks around the property. Before embarking on the last walk, he noted he had identified 75 plants, most of which could be used for food and/or medicine.

Permaculture Plant Walk at Heartsong Retreat Center

Permaculture Plant Walk. 

Here are my notes from the second plant walk offered (the first one I attended). The notes are far from complete information on these plants. It’s just what I was able to write down while walking and taking pictures. I took most of the photos, unless otherwise noted.

This is mid-September in northeastern Washington state. Many of the plants are way past their flowering stage and some are getting a bit spindly and dry.

European Larch

European Larch

As the group embarked, we passed a beautiful European Larch on the grounds, which looks sort of like a weeping willow tamarack.

Purslane - Inland Northwest Permaculture Plant Walk

Purslane – High in Omega-3 Oils

White Sweet Clover

White Sweet Clover

White Sweet Clover has “coumerins.”



Alder: The young leaves are edible. The “catkins” contain useful pollen to treat Candida. Harvest them in spring when in the early pollen stage. Use as a tea, tincture, or in capsules. (Read the informative link about a man who decided to eat the catkins).

Alder is also a good nitrogen fixer. Every time you cut it back there is a high release of nitrogen into the soil.

It also makes a good windbreak in a food forest and the leaves are good forage. Alder leaves are highin protein. All nitrogen fixers contain high protein foliage.

Black Walnut

Black Walnut

Black Walnut: The hull is medicinal. It kills parasites. Confederate uniforms were dyed with the hulls


Hawthorn. Photo from

Hawthorne leaves, berries, and flowers are used as medicine for heart problems.


Canada Thistle

Canada Thistle: When you see these, it’s often an indication of good soil — more so than bull thistle.

You can cut them and let them ferment in a bucket. Use for compost tea. (This is the day I found out other people besides me use herbs they cut down to make compost tea. It’s something I stumbled upon by messing around on the land, trying to survive).


Horseweed. Use it for mulch.






Teasel: A tincture of the root is used for lyme disease and probably other spirochetes diseases like syphillis.





Red Clover

Red Clover


Red Clover in an excellent cleanser of blood, lymph system, and liver. Good in toxemia. It is taken with and after antibiotics. That’s when the body is dealing with a big load of dead parasites, etc., and red clover will help flush them out. Red clover is a blood thinner, good for some people, but others should avoid.



Pennyroyal smells minty

Pennyroyal: Smells like mint. Regulates menses. Some women rub oil on tummy for this. It got a bad rap because it was used for abortions in the past and the large amounts needed were counter-productive to the system. Also repels misquitos and ants.

Serviceberries, service berry


Serviceberry: The bark is astringent. The flowering tips mixed with rosehips flowers were used by herbalists to combat SARS. This plant is also known as juneberry.

The recommendation is to buy named and known varieties for higher production. One such is “Smokies.” But you don’t have to buy more than one serviceberry plant. Get one, cut it down, and practice vegetative propagation or “stool bed” to multiply. See what they New York Times has to say about serviceberries. Picture is from the Ann Arbor News.

Scouring Rush is like a straw

Scouring Rush is like a straw.

Scouring Rush is in the horsetail family. It’s like a straw. These plants bio-accumulate heavy metals, including gold. People have taken them to assayers when they think they’ve found gold.

A tea of scouring rush is a good anti-fungal for plants. It’s high in silica.

Skeeter holding a sample of Wolf Lichen

Skeeter holding Wolf Lichen

Wolf Lichen is chartreuse in spring, light green in fall. Wolf lichen is poisonous. Many poisonous lichens are effective medicine in the right hands.

All lichens are fertilizers making nutrients from the air.





Dogbane: Like foxglove (digitalis), can start the heart. This is a crisis medicinal not to be messed with by amateurs. Photo is from



Yarrow is given in cases of fever. The green leaves are a well known and effective styptic carried into battle by Roman soldiers. Chew them up for an emergency fielddressing. They are also antibacterial. The little pink rootlets have a novocaine effect. The “achillia” in achillia millefolium refers to the story of Achilles Heel. The photo by John Hixson is from the Native Plant Database.

Poison Ivy

Watch out for the Poison Ivy



Cottonwood buds in late fall through winter. The buds are used in massage oil.

To prepare them, put in a crockpot with olive oil, grapeseed oil, or coconut oil, on very low heat, stirring occasionally.

This will leave your tools covered with propolis, a very sticky varnish you can’t get off.

The best buds are at the very top of the biggest trees. The lower ones probably have some kind of disease. Get the top ones from tree trimmers or from removers who come to clear away blown down trees.

Cottonwood is an antiseptic. The tincture is used for opening the lungs. The bark has salicin,  more commonly known to be found in willow. It is used like aspirin to alleviate pain. Strip bark from the branches for this purpose.

The image is from, which has basic information about the parts of trees and shrubs.


Getting the lay of the land about plants and learning how to use them is one of the best ways I know for humans to spend time. I would like to take many more plant walks often.

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