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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

TETLIN: At Refuge Sponsored Workshop Alaskan Wild Plants become Food and Medicine

Region 7, June 24, 2013
Reowned herbalist Janice Schofield shares her knowledge about the uses of wild plants with 15 residents of Tok, Alaska during a weekend workshop sponsored by Tetlin Refuge.
Reowned herbalist Janice Schofield shares her knowledge about the uses of wild plants with 15 residents of Tok, Alaska during a weekend workshop sponsored by Tetlin Refuge. - Photo Credit: n/a
Young leaves of willow, chiming bells, birch, dandelion and lambs quarters were used in a variety of dishes from smoothies to pesto. Here leaves, lighly coated in olive oil and seasoned, are being dried into chips.
Young leaves of willow, chiming bells, birch, dandelion and lambs quarters were used in a variety of dishes from smoothies to pesto. Here leaves, lighly coated in olive oil and seasoned, are being dried into chips. - Photo Credit: n/a
Wild rose petals and flowers of chiming bells were used in salads, sauerkraut, and as a garnish.
Wild rose petals and flowers of chiming bells were used in salads, sauerkraut, and as a garnish. - Photo Credit: n/a
The soothing and healing properties of balsam poplar makes it a favored ingredient in lotions and salves. With the late arrival of summer to interior Alaska, buds and resinous young leaves were still available.
The soothing and healing properties of balsam poplar makes it a favored ingredient in lotions and salves. With the late arrival of summer to interior Alaska, buds and resinous young leaves were still available. - Photo Credit: n/a

Fifteen residents from Tok, Alaska recently spent a weekend with renowned herbalist and author Janice Schofield learning about wild plants during a workshop sponsored by Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. Over a long weekend, the group learned about the amazing nutritional and medicinal properties of wild plants commonly found around our homes, fields, and forests. Mornings were spent identifying and collecting more than 25 species of plants. With the late arrival of summer, plants had just begun popping up and new growth was sprouting on trees and shrubs, all perfect as edible greens. In the afternoons, wild plants were made into tasty dishes and drinks like smoothies, fireweed tea, wild green chips, wild pesto lasagna and vegetable wraps, sauerkraut, and spruce tip salsa. We also made healing salves and lotions from cottonwood buds/young leaves, wormwood, Labrador tea, and arnica flowers. One of the most memorable exercise was the group tasting of teas made with Labrador tea, spruce, fireweed and kinnikinnick steeped overnight in cold, warm, and hot water – what a difference! There was a great exchange of information and experiences shared among the group. Did you know that the leaves from plantain, a persistent lawn weed, when blanched and applied to skin wounds has remarkable healing abilities? The group learned a lot from Janice and from each other, and all left with an expanded knowledge and appreciation for local plants, many which are just outside our door!

Contact Info: Heather Johnson, 907/883-9417, heather_n_johnson@fws.gov