Cottonwood Salve or oil or Balm of Gilead
Ah 2021.. if there has ever! been a year that you should be on top of getting your harvests on things that can only be harvested “ONCE” a year, this is the year.. I am going to be covering a number of things that I have posted on over the past 10 years on the blog, I will be doing new post but linking back to older posts at times.
One step at a time, as they come ready we are going to work on creating a number of healing salves, tea’s dried this and that and a number of other things.. If you never need to use them, wonderful.. but so many things are truly only ready for harvest in a very short window of time and if you do not get it into your herbal cupboard.. it will not be there till next year and this is not the year to count on being able to just “order” things or assume your friend will have extra? that they are willing to part with.
The common Cottonwood Tree holds a lovely secret.. its buds in Feb (in our zone) are filled with a sticky sap that can be made with olive oil into a amazing healing external salve
Some time in Mid feb or Late Feb here in Garden zone 5, the Cottonwood buds are going to start swelling in size getting ready for spring, they will plump up and if given a little pinch.. they will ooze a a bit of red to yellow colored resin.. if your buds are still smaller and very firm.. keep checking..
When you get your nose near them, they do have a lovely scent to them or at least I think so 🙂 They are sticky, so please expect that your fingers will have a good little goo/stick to them.
The Buds are used in ointments and skin treatments to reduce pain and inflammation, and to ease rheumatic pain. Salicin, a major constituent of this plant, is a painkiller, while bisabolol in the oil reduces inflammation and is antimicrobial
These tree’s tend to have a good amount of branches come down in the winds and you can very often collect what you need from the downed branches which is the ideal, not effecting the tree’s productive leaves to be. Lay out your buds and let them air dry if they were at all wet.. ideally you waited for a nice sunny winter day and collected in the warmest part of the afternoon.. if you picked carefully then you should have no issues with your buds
Once you have collected the amount your will need for your size of family, a jar full will normally get the job done, fill your jar with your buds, then cover with a good qaulity olive oil and give it a shake, into the cool dark cupboard for a min of 6 weeks but up to a year before making the salve itself..
Farmgal hint.. reuse the same jar over and over again, it is just easier to use the same one as its very hard to get it clean lol
Its a very basic salve, strain out the buds, measure out your oil, I use raw beeswax to thicken it into a stiff salve that will melt at body temp and I use a small 4oz canning jar, I pour my hot Salve into the clean dry jar and then store it in the fridge once opened.
You can make it is as thin or as thick as you like by controlling the beeswax percentage.
Side Effects: If you are sensitive to aspirin, you should use care in regards to using Balm of Gilead.