It's easy to pick great willowherb in quantity.
It's an abundant forest-edge, new-clearing, old-meadow plant, spreading as much using underground root runners as using the extraordinary amounts of fluffy seed that the wind blows away, in autumn.
So I'm all out of great willowherb, Epilobium angustifolium. I use it a lot, not only for most any gut upset (including suspected candida), but also as a filler herb, where the taste of a tea blend might be just too much if not diluted a teensy bit.
It's also called fireweed, but that name belongs more properly to an Erechtites, so just forget I mentioned that bit, okay? Especially as an Erigeron (well, Conyza, these days) is also called fireweed ...
It's extremely easy to pick: just get a good grip of the stem, and gently yank it upwards. If you do things right you have the whole stem, without roots, in your hand. As it's a horde plant (never alone), you'll have oodles more closeby. I pick them here and there, thinning the crop, and end up with an armful or more in less than ten minutes.
There's two ways to dry the willowherb:
- bundle the stems and hang the lot up to dry; my drying setup involves two nails, two walls and a strongish line. This works very nicely if you
1: used strong enough nails
2: used a strong enough line
3: made sure the nails are solidly in the wall instead of in the wall decorations (like multiple layers of wallpaper on thinnish boards).
If you didn't use a strong enough line, didn't use long enough nails, didn't make sure they're solidly in wood or similar, your take will end up on the floor faster than you can say "oh #¤%(&!". I know, cos I've been there, done that, on all three counts.
This happens because stems of willowherb are far longer (and therefore far heavier) than the usual herbs that get hung up to dry: your setup isn't, well, set up to handle a burden quite this heavy.
- Or grab the stems, one at a time, at the top, and remove the leaves in a more or less fluid downward motion. After you've pulled up those stems, not while they're still in the ground.
If they're not in flower or flowerbud yet (and they shouldn't be: dried flowering willowherbs means one thing, and that's so much fluff in the air that you can't breathe) the tops of the stems are bound to be tender and are quite likely to break. Be gentle. Once you get down to the stronger parts of the stems you should be able to get a good grip.
A client who's likely to need willowherb is coming in on Thursday, so I'm putting this lot of stripped-off leaf into a dehydrator. If I didn't need dried herb in a hurry I'd hang the stems up to dry.
Drying willowherb in hanging bundles takes about 10 days. The herb is completely dry once the thickest stems break instead of bending. Removing the leaf from dried willowherb stems is easier than removing it from fresh stems, but you do need gloves to avoid splinters in fingers and hands.