Plant Spirit Medicine, Recipes
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Cottonwood Ghee

Cottonwood buds, Balsam poplar, Mount Talbert, winter harvest,

what did I do with my pound of Cottonwood buds?

Balsam poplar, Cottonwood, herbal medicine, burn salve, Cottonwood ghee, arthritis

I made it into amazing, golden Cottonwood Ghee.

Cottonwood, or Balsam Poplar, buds are very resinous. They contain salicytates which are anti- inflammatory similar to aspirin and aromatic resins which act are antimicrobial, increase blood flow to the surface of the skin and promote healing. The oil or salve can be used for sprains, arthritic joints, burns. It is helpful for both hot and cold pains and swelling.

“The salve has been used for burns by Native Americans and Europeans for millenia. It lessens pain, keeps the surface antiseptic, and also  stimulates skin regeneration” ( Michael More, Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West)

Last harvest I made lots of Cottonwood tincture which is amazing for chest colds so this year I aimed for oil and salve. I did two different recipes based on Michael Moore’s instructions. First, I’ll share the one that went well even though I did it second.

Cottonwood Ghee:

  • 4 oz crushed fresh or dried Cottonwood buds
  • 8 oz clarified butter, Ghee

Cook over low heat 3 – 4 hours, strain.

So easy and delightful. I clarified my own butter and saved a little of it to make pancakes. I don’t recommend eating the Cottonwood ghee, though a taste is interesting. It is extremely bitter!

The other recipe I used involved boiling the buds in water, then adding oil. The oil was supposed to rise to the surface with the resins in it. Some of it did, but mostly it just was an oily, stick mess.

But then again the resiny, sticky mess of Cottonwood buds is part of their appeal.


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