Michigan is home to a wide variety of herbs, many of which can be found in the wild. If you're interested in foraging for wild herbs in Michigan, here are three of the top herbs to look for:
1. Wild Bergamot: Wild Bergamot, or Monarda fistulosa, is also known as bee balm or wild oregano. It has a strong, pleasant aroma and is frequently used in teas and cooking. Wild Bergamot can be identified by its pinkish-purple flowers, which grow in clusters at the top of tall stems. It is commonly found in fields and meadows throughout Michigan.
2. Mullein, scientifically known as Verbascum thapsus, is a biennial flowering plant that is native to Europe and Asia. The plant can grow up to 7 feet in height and produces numerous yellow flowers during its second year of growth. These flowers can be used to make terrific healing ear oils for ear infections when infused into an oil such as olive oil.
Mullein has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb, particularly for respiratory issues such as coughs, bronchitis, and asthma. The leaves of the plant contain saponins, flavonoids, and other compounds that have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and expectorant properties. Mullein is commonly consumed as a tea or brewed into a tincture, but it can also be applied topically as a poultice to help soothe skin irritations and wounds. Overall, mullein is a versatile and beneficial herb that has stood the test of time in traditional medicine.
3. Wood sorrel is a type of flowering plant that belongs to the oxalis family. It is native to Europe, North Africa, and western Asia, but can now be found in many parts of the world. Wood sorrel is known for its delicate, clover-like leaves and small, five-petaled flowers that come in shades of pink, purple, white, and yellow. It typically grows in wooded areas, but can also be found in meadows and along stream banks. Wood sorrel has historically been used for medicinal purposes, and its leaves have a tangy, citrusy flavor that makes them a popular addition to salads and other dishes. It's slightly sour and tart in flavor is one of my favorites! It is also known to be high in Vitamin C, an important nutrient that helps boost the immune system, promote healthy skin, and improve iron absorption.
When searching for these and other wild herbs in Michigan, it's important to properly identify them and ensure they are safe to consume before using them in teas, cooking, or other applications. So, happy foraging!