So in my travels this summer (all my family is out of state), I find I have a second or two to register rogues thriving on the side of the road.

Firstly I would like to take a moment to address a debated question: to harvest from the side of the road, or to not harvest, that is the question. I will personally answer with: go with your gut.

Most herbalists believe that due to constant exposure to vehicle emmissions, these plant allies are rendered useless (medicinally speaking).  There are also concerns about high lead content due to truck emmissions.

However another herbalist (I believe Susun Weed) fights back with a free radical approach that claims: when a plant bonds with carbondioxide it causes a free radical.  These free radicals have been shown to cause visible effects of aging.  However, if the plants have a steady diet of carbonmonoxide, then the free radical is not floating about your system wreaking havoc-so they’re healthier for you.  Also, basic energetics: a plant has to be more robust to thrive in a side of the road environment.  (I just went to look for a link to learn more, and I can’t find it.  I will try to cite this later.)

My personal opinion is to ask your gut. Would I ask my husband to pull off I81 or I95 just so I could forage?  How badly do I need that plant and is there enough harvestable to make medicine while still abiding the 80/20 foraging rule of thumb (post on that will be forthcoming).  Then again if you’re nomadic and thats what you have available.

Safety questions aside, plants I’ve been able to identify at high speed are: chickory, mullein, thistle, stag horn sumac, daisy, queen anns lace, many berries (red raspberry, black caps, wineberries), and elder flowers.  Google will lead you to a few links to various roadside allies and their uses.

Where do you weigh in on the debate?  Do you believe roadside harvesting is safe or not?  Please use the comment button below (or let me know they’re not working please!)

-Pati Dunn

Published 6/30

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