For years I’ve looked forward to harvesting this tasty, tangy, and nutritious plants and felt I could easily harvest a hearty share without inflicting any harm on the population. I used as a guideline the common “2/3 rule”, which suggests that in harvesting one should gather no more than 1/3 of a population to ensure a stable community persists.
But what is this guideline based on? As I thought more about it, the concept sounded nice and simple but I knew better, for plants and ecosystems are rarely able to be summarized in such a way. Further, I imagined an inherent problem with applying a blanket rule to wild plants when I know that the dispersal patterns, regeneration, and regrowth characteristics are vastly different from plant to plant. Some, like ramps, appear to be very fragile by nature, while others, like Stinging Nettle (urtica dioica) is persistent to the point where many consider it a nuisance species. (not me – I love to consume them as a management tool)
A practice I’ve been working at for the past year or so is to follow the tracks of hearsay and try to see if I can find research and evidence to support a given claim. The very nature of agroforestry systems is that they operate on longer timescales, demanding careful thought and planning for all activities, whether we are conducting a timber stand improvement, cultivating mushrooms, or wildcrafting edibles.
- Nettles – by Suzanne Dunning (wildandwise.org)
- New Class: Creating a Wildcrafting Calendar (blazingstarherbalschool.typepad.com)
- Another Potent Weed (lewrockwell.com)