There is a beautiful and powerful tree that grows in our Pacific Northwest called Cottonwood Populus balsamifera. It grows in many other
places as well and all over the Southwest. It is the gooey, resinous buds of Cottonwood that offer deep healing physically and spiritually. These leaf buds are gathered before opening in late fall through very early spring. I like to pick them in early February. At this time they are just about to open and are to me the most potent.
Cottonwood leaf buds have a smell that is like no other,
intoxicating. When I smell it I feel called to a place of
ancient wisdom. When I harvest the cottonwood buds, I gather them right into a jar. My fingers are soon covered with the resin. I fill my jar half full with these buds and fill the jar again with organic olive oil. I place this in a dark place for a turn of the seasons, about six weeks and then pour this spirit-infused oil into a beautiful bottle. These gooey buds are so sticky, I have learned to use a jar I don’t plan to use for anything else as the buds will stick to the sides. The benefit of this is that I can pour more olive oil over the buds again and again.
Cottonwood has healing components similar to aspirin. This oil will relieve pain. It soothes sore muscles, arthritis, stiffness and stress. Tincture or honey of the buds will loosen sticky mucous allowing it to be released. Imagine for a moment the preciousness of such a tree that is right in your neighborhood.
Before I harvest any plant, I always ask permission. I greet this tree and put my dominant hand on her trunk. I look up and also down to where the trunk meet the earth. I bring my attention to my breath and breathe as I listen to what this tree may have to share. I then ask if I may harvest. And I listen. When I have completed the cottonwood harvest, I offer gratitude. The trees from which I gather
are my old friends. I have harvested from them for many years. They are happy to see me each February and willingly share their bounty.
A story is told that you can stand with your back up against the cottonwood tree and offer it your fear. The tree offers you inspiration in its place. The infused oil of the cottonwood tree that I make every year has a similar use. I rub it on my third eye and on the bottom of my feet. True perception is its gift.