Wild in the City: Foraging Fridays

this week:

Pelargonium Graveolens (Rose Geranium, Old-fashion Rose Geranium, Rose-scent Geranium)

there’s a little alleyway behind my house…rose street. and on rose street there is an old rose geranium bush, that has been there ever since i have. she is an old friend, and a loyal one during times of strife or sadness. if you happen upon one of these blessed ladies on one of your walks, stop and gently rub the leaves with your fingers. smell your hands, and be enveloped in rosey kindness. among her other uses and properties, the aromatherapeutic talents of the rose geranium is as an anti-depressant. the scent goes straight to your heart and says, “lift your head little one. it is still a beautiful world.”

How to Harvest:

the picture up there is a little misleading. the flower of the rose geranium is beautiful, and can be used for decorative purposes. but it’s the leaves that are edible and, surprisingly, contain the scent.

using your preferred method, or the instructions i gave in the flower essence tutorial, ask permission from the plant first. don’t use your scissors….use every excuse you can to bury yourself up to your elbows in this plant. pick a few leaves (only enough so that your presence there leaves no trace) and put them in your bag, gently. better yet, put them in a pocket, close to your heart. for gals of all genders, a little bundle tucked into your bra is the best medicine.

Edible Parts:

i’ve only ever used the leaves for scent, but you can also use them in baking and in making spirits! the flowers can also be used sparingly. this is a plant you use for flavoring…not to make a meal out of.

Distinctions:

if you aren’t sure, smell the leaves!

if the scent is unfamiliar to you, you can always go to your local health food store and peruse the essential oil section. once you know the smell, you will never mistake a look-a-like. however, if you have any doubt, don’t eat it. taking a chance is not worth it. get a flower ID book, or better yet, get a botanical enthusiast to help you.

again, here’s the flower:

Where to find it:

it’s a cultivated, non-native plant, so you probably won’t find it out in the park. look in sub-urban neighborhoods, and in city tree wells. it adapts well, and can grow to be quite bushy. make sure you are getting it from an area that is not sprayed with pesticide, or near a road side.

What Does it Taste Like?

the better question here, is what does it smell like? because it tastes like it smells. like roses.

Uses:

i have only ever used rose geranium for aromatherapy. however, i have bookmarked several yummy sounding recipes. i have yet to try them, so i can’t vouch for them…but they seem worth a shot!

rose geranium sangria

rose geranium buttermilk pound cake (mmmm!)

strawberry-rose geranium sorbet

otherwise, you can make a lovely scented body and facial oil. here’s how:

ingredients:

jojoba, almond or apricot kernel oil (use a delicate oil with no scent)

5-15 rose geranium leaves

instructions:

mince, and then GENTLY crush the leaves. to make the oil quickly, put the leaves in a small crockpot and barely cover with the oil. put on the lowest setting and WATCH it to make sure it does not start to sizzle or boil. you want the oil to warm, thereby extracting out the scent…but you don’t want to cook the leaves! do this for about an hour, and then let sit over night. in the morning, strain through a coffee filter into a small, clean jar. this will keep in the fridge for up to a month, and you can use for light perfuming, or as a night-time facial moisturizer.

the slow method is to put the leaves in a jar, cap it, and put in a sunny window for 3-6 days. i don’t like to do this because the scent often smells a little “spoiled”, plus you cut down on the shelf life of the oil by letting it sit out. still, if you don’t have a crock pot (or time!) this is a great way to make oil to use immediately when it is finished.

the essential oil can also be used for many, many medicinal uses, too numerous to go into with any depth here. but they include: anti-bacterial and anti-microbial, tick repellent (!), astringent, deodorant, vulnerary…it goes on. it’s an amazing plant.

The Disclaimer

think with your stomach! do not ingest wild plants unless you are sure you have identified them correctly, and are also willing to take responsibility for using yourself as a guinea pig. i am SO not responsible if you eat the wrong thing and get poopy pants, or die. you’re an adult, you can make your own choices.

jeff and fern joined me on my foraging. ever notice that most of my pictures of fern are when someone else is carrying her? i do my hefty share of the attachment parenting, i swear! just not when i’m trying to take pictures. otherwise, the pictures usually contain little fingers.

my little rose geranium

have a great weekend lovers!

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