Strawberry leaf, and wild vs. cultivated.

Date: Mon, 8 May 1995 01:44:22 -0500
Sender: Medicinal and Aromatic Plants discussion list <HERB.TREARN.BITNET>
From: Kay and Pete Hanson <kidkaos.USLINK.NET>
Subject: Re: Strawberry leaf

> Also what kind of strawberry is used in strawberry leaf tea, or does it matter?

I think wild strawberry would be the best, then probably Alpine strawberry. But any non-sprayed strawberry leaf should work fine.

From: Howie Brounstein <howieb.TELEPORT.COM>

>I think wild strawberry would be the best, then probably Alpine strawberry.

I beg to differ from your perspective, Kay, or at least question your post and raise a few points.

First, with Fragarias (Strawberry) how are you judging what is the best? Some particular chemical or group of chemicals or some particular effect? Or, if used for pleasure tea only, then perhaps it's just taste alone.

Secondly, are you assuming that wild is better generally? This is not always the case. Sometimes the local wild species is inferior to the commercially available species. Commercial Ephedra, Ephedra sinica? (look ma, no spell check) from China is much higher in alkaloid content than wild Ephedra from the Southwest of the United States. Many local Willows (Salix) are lower in salycylates than White Willow or some other commercially available Willows.

Thirdly, why is the alpine species better. Perhaps you are assuming that the higher the altitude, the stronger the herb. This is once again a generalization that is faulty. It may be true for some herbs, like Dandelion Root, but for every herb that this idea fits, I can name another that is exactly the opposite. Peppermint, or other herbs that have volatile oils or active resins that ooze over the leaves with heat, need the lower, warmer, or more Southern areas for stronger effects. "Yerba Buena" or Oregon Tea, Satureja, definately is stronger, smellier, and better tasting at lower elevations, and even better yet 300 miles south of here.

Fourthly, The alpine ecosystem is very fragile and under siege by overuse. It recovers very slowly from damage and harvesting. THERE IS NO REASON TO EVER HARVEST FROM ABOVE TIMBERLINE. There are billions of wild strawberry plants below timberline. NEVER BUY ALPINE PLANTS THAT ARE NOT GARDEN GROWN. To add insult to injury, global warming factors are making these already geographically and floristic islands smaller and smaller.

So, if it's taste alone, than any properly harvested and dried herb should be good. My personal opinion is that in the case of pleasure tea strawberry, if it's unsprayed, the time of harvest, preparation, and storage is more important than the species.

Of course Kay, I've been known to be wrong before. Can you educate me with some references?

Howie B

From: Howie Brounstein <howieb.TELEPORT.COM>

> From my experience I have found it always best to use plants that grown within one's own environment--They are well adapted to the energy requirements of that particular habitat, which in turn is imparted to the person using those endemic plants.

I believe the same, but the point remains that sometimes the same species is available from another part of the world that is stronger. However, I feel that if you're looking for a specific herbal action, there is usually a proper plant growing locally, but maybe not the same plant at all as the original plant. example: Satureja (Oregon Tea, Yerba Buena again) is stronger in smell and properties in northern CA., than in Oregon, but if you want a super strong aromatic for a tummy problem, rather than buying some other non-local Yerba Buena, you could just use another completely different local aromatic (angelica seed, osmorhisa chilensis (Sweet Cicely), etc.).

> I like to use Indian Strawberry (Duchesnea indica) as it grows profusely in the state I live in (RI) and has very similar qualities as its cousin Dwarf Cinquefoil (Potentilla canadensis) especially as poultices for bee stings and as a decoction for sorethroat.

The medicinal uses you mention are due to the plants astringent properties. Many plants, especially many in the Rosaceae (rose family) are astringents and can be used similarly. (Rose, rosa sp.; potentilla sp., cinquefoil; Rubus sp., blackberry, salmonberry, thimbleberry, raspberry; Fragaria sp, Strawberry; Geum sp. ---- to name a few. All are good for pultices for stings, bites, sunburns and burns, first aid, etc. Personally, if you were looking for an astringent for a pultice, round here there are much stronger ones available besides Fragarias.

By the way Kay, rereading my post, I seem a bit attacking. No flame intended. I just become irate when I see people suggesting alpine plants used medicinally.

Howie B again

From: Colette Gardiner <coletteg.EFN.ORG>

I would like to make a quick addition to Howies comments about strawberry leaf. I strongly agree with all his info but would like to say that if you are using the tea for medicinal purposes rather than culinary some of the new garden varieties are very highly hybridized, and may not be as medicinal as the older varieties, or the local wild varieties. Of course as Howie points out if you are using the herb for pleasure it hardly matters. Use any good quality organic leaf. One other clarification probably only known to the garden obsessive such as myself. Alpine strawberry is a fairly common nursery grown variety with smaller more flavorful berries and for the most part unaltered. Probably containing more nutrients and other good things since most breeders routinely sacrifice nutrients and often flavor in the search for bigger and better yields. I know of no reputable nursery that currently takes these plants from the wild since they are so widely available on the domestic market.

Perhaps I should introduce myself since I'm new to the list. I' m an herbal teacher, and obsessive gardener with a strong interest in the magical uses of herbs as well. bye for now.

Colette Gardiner yes that's my real last name