Ethical Wildcrafting

“If a single new bud is snipped off a fruit tree with a pair of scissors, that may bring about a disorder which cannot be undone…. Human beings with their tampering do something wrong, leave the damage unrepaired, and when the adverse results accumulate, work with all their might to correct them.”

Masanobu Fukuoka
Father of Permaculture

Ethical wildcrafting is critical to the future of our food, medicine, pollinators, and all the species that depend on responsible long-term principles that assure the survival of all species.

The videos below offer some tips, but they are introductory in nature.  There are some basic rules to observe when harvesting plants from the wild.  The first is to make sure there are sufficient plants in the vicinity to justify of some. There are many nuances that should affect the decision of whether or not to take something from Nature. 

Starting with the part of the plant that is used, we need to think about whether we are pruning the plant and potentially stimulating growth or destroying the plant.  In some cases, the medicinal properties are in the flowers and leaves, sometimes in the saps or resins, and sometimes in the bark or roots.


Be sure to allow the pollinators to complete their work before removing flowers. Harvest the seeds and make sure they get planted in friendly places.


Think about the shade, the mulch, and the way leaves move rain water to the rest of the plant.  Think of the season and temperatures before exposing the plant to risk.


Every tree is different. Mayans harvest chicle for chewing gum once every fifteen years. Frankincense may be harvested every 10-20 days.  Collection of the tree sap requires cutting into the tree and the sap is created to heal the wound created by the harvester.  Be sure the tree is a willing participant in this enterprise and that it is not being destroyed by ignorant or greedy humans.


Trees have to protect themselves from the elements as well as predators such as termites and fungi.  They produce countless chemicals, many with medicinal properties, that enable them to survive in otherwise inhospitable and perhaps even hostile environments.  For example, cork is typically harvested once every 10-12 years, and this can be done ethically without harming the tree.

Before harvesting, the motivation and repercussions should be considered since reckless harvesting will result in losses for the forest, the tree species, and our reliance on the trees.

Rhizomes and Roots

In many cases, harvesting of rhizomes and roots destroys the plant.s  Replanting from seeds and cuttings should therefore be planned, and some mature plants should be left as parents for the new plants. 

 Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2018

Permaculture – Emilia Hazelip – Synergistic Garden (95) 

Pharmacopia Herbals: Uva-ursi harvesting 

How To Ethically Forage Medicinal Herbs

Healthy Herbal Trifecta – Wildcrafting Sweet Spot

Image Credit

Iguazu Falls in South America
Dreamstime ID 103945945
© Daboost

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Copyright by Dr. Ingrid Naiman 2003 and 2018
All Rights Reserved || Institute for Invisible Epidemics