When picking herbs, always ask the plant if it is okay for you to make use of it. Pick a little bit from one plant, and then move on to another.
There is a Native tradition of walking by seven plants before picking from any. In this way, we leave enough for the next 7 generations.
Always thank the plant that has honored you with its medicine, and leave an offering of tobacco, cornmeal or anything that nature can absorb and use. Even a hair drawn from your head may assist a bird in the building of it's nest. In that way we are giving back to Mother Earth & honoring the plant or herb that we are harvesting.
Simply expressed, a weed is any plant that grows where it isnít wanted. Weeds are defined by their tendency to flourish at the expense of a gardenerís overall vision, and we tend to battle their presence in our yards. It is interesting to consider though, that a plant is a weed only within a certain context, which is to say that one personís weed is another personís wildflower. Most of us have pulled at least one dandelion up by its roots and disposed of it in the interest of preserving the look of a perfect green lawn, yet the dandelion is good medicine, packed with healing properties and vitamin-rich leaves that are a delicious, spicy surprise in a summer salad.
In the wild there is no such thing as a weed because the overall vision is in the hands of Mother Nature, who accommodates and incorporates all forms of life. In nature, balance is achieved over the long term, without the aid or interference of a human supervisor. While one plant may prevail over others for a certain period of time, eventually it will reach an apex and then it will naturally decline, allowing for other forms to be born and survive. This self-regulating realm was the first garden of our ancestors, who learned the art of agriculture from studying the forests and fields of the as yet uncultivated earth. In a sense, weeds are harbingers of this wildness, pushing their way into our well-ordered plots, undermining more delicate flora and flourishing in spite of us.
The next time you see a weed you might want to look deeply into its roots, discover its name, its habits, and its possible uses. Instead of seeing an unwanted intruder, you might see a healer offering its leaves for a medicinal tea or its flowers for a colorful salad. At the very least, if you look long enough you will see a messenger from the wilderness of Mother Earth, reminding you that even in the most carefully controlled garden, she cannot be completely ruled out.