NOTE: Caution should always be taken when looking for medicinal plants out in the wild. Do not consume or use any plant that you are unsure about. The internet is a wonderful resource for plant identification. Look up photos and identification information for plants from reputable sources before collecting any plant out in the wild. NOTE also that many Ozark medicinal plants are endangered and should not be harvested out in the wild.
When wild-harvesting take only what you need at that time. DO NOT STOCKPILE! Chances are the plants will go bad before you can use them. A good rule of thumb for any plant is to count three plants then take one, that way there are plants left behind to go to seed. Leave the roots intact unless the root is being harvested, then try and leave a piece of the root or any seeds/berries behind in the soil.
Responsible harvesting means these medicinal plants will be around for many more generations.
Self-Heal, All Heal, Prunella vulgaris: Leaves, flowers:
Infusion is an analgesic used to wash sores, wounds, and used in salves for many dermatological needs. Used to flavor other medicines. Infusion used as a febrifuge and against colds. Used for sore throats. Mild sedative. Helps with stomach and bowel complaints. Antidiarrheal. Respiratory aid.
Shagbark Hickory, Carya ovata: Edible nuts, Leaves, Sap, Bark:
Leaves used for headaches, sap for a sweet syrup, bark boiled then put on sore muscles and arthritis pain.
Slender Mountain Mint, Pycnanthemum tenuifolium: Leaves, flowers:
Infusion of whole plant taken for headaches, colds, chills, and stomach complaints. Used in similar way to Pycnanthemum albescens.
Spicebush, Lindera benzoin: Leaves, bark, seeds:
The red berries of the spicebush have long been used as a substitute for cinnamon or allspice in mountain recipes. The leaves can be made into a pleasant infusion for colds and headaches while the bark can be brewed strong for fevers and chills. The leaves can also be used topically for skin irritations, rashes, and bites.
Sumac, Rhus glabra “Smooth Sumac” or Rhus typhina “Staghorn Sumac”: Berries, Leaves, Bark:
The berries are used in a tasty beverage I’ve heard called “sumacade”. It’s lemony taste is quite pleasant, and the drink is high in vitamin C. The berries and bark are astringent and can be used as an effective gargle for a cough or mouth sores. A decoction of the bark can also be taken internally for diarrhea. In the Fall the red leaves can be dried and smoked to induce dreaming.
Sweet Everlasting, Rabbit Tobacco, Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium/Gnaphalium obtusifolium: Leaves, flowers:
Decoction whole plant used as a sedative and to aid sleeping. Analgesic for sores, pains, aches, wounds, and many other dermatological needs. Antirheumatic (internal). Decoction for colds and chills. Smoked and used in infusions to clear chest congestion. Chewed for sore mouth and throat. Used in sweat baths against many illnesses. NOTE harvest leaves in the Fall when they start to turn brown.
Sweetgum tree, Liquidambar styraciflua: Leaves, bark, gum, balls:
Leaves can be used in poultices for several dermatological issues, cuts, and bruises. Gum and inner bark used for diarrhea and flux. Infusion of bark taken for “flooding” (gynecological). Infusion of bark given as a sedative. Sweetgum balls, when green in the Spring before seeds have formed can be soaked in alcohol then given for colds and the flu (antiviral, antibacterial due to contained shikimic acid).
White-Leafed Mountain Mint, Pycnanthemum albescens: Leaves, Flowers, Stems:
As an infusion, can be used to help treat headaches, stomach complaints, and colds. Brewed strong it can help to reduce fevers.
Wild Bergamot, Beebalm, Monarda fistulosa: Leaves, flowers:
Infusion used for coughs, colds, and sore throats. Carminative for stomach complaints. Diaphoretic, febrifuge, and diuretic. Mild sedative. Abortifacient, so caution should be taken. Externally an analgesic used in poultices for pains, aches, cuts, and rashes.
Wild Cherry, Prunus serotina: Bark:
Decoction of the bark can be used as a wet expectorant, to clear chest congestion, and as a febrifuge. Decoction of root bark astringent and used for sores and ulcers. CAUTION the leaves and cherry pits are both toxic to humans and animals.
Witch Hazel, Hamamelis vernalis: Leaves, bark:
Leaves and bark astringent used externally as a skin toner and for many dermatological issues. Infusion taken for colds and as a febrifuge. Antirheumatic. Decoction of bark taken as an emetic.
Wood Betony, Pedicularis Canadensis (not to be confused with Stachys officinalis): Leaves, flowers:
Used with diarrhea and loose bowels. Infusions used for coughs and dermatological needs. Abortifacient.
Yarrow, Achillea millefolium: Flowers, leaves:
Leaves astringent, used in bowel complaints and with dermatological needs. Foliage infusion used for colds, as a febrifuge, upset stomach, and as a mild sedative. Leaves can be smoked to loosen phlegm and clear chest congestion. CAUTION contains thujone.