Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring Gathering...

Yesterday, little N and I checked the buds on the cottonwood trees.  They were ready, firm, slightly sticky with thick yellow resin, and barely opened.  We live on a parcel with quite a few cottonwood trees.  You can spot them by their very rough bark.

I have heard several opinions on when to gather the cottonwood buds.  One person said that you should get them before they open and are still slightly frozen.  Another said that they should be half-open.  I decided to go with the middle of the road.  We gently threw a rope up and over the lower branches and pulled them to our height.  (These are some tall trees.)
And more branches....I love these trees!  We are always careful to take only a few buds from each of the branches and to spread our "gathering" out over quite a few trees.  We don't want to hurt the trees.

Here are the buds, ready to pick!

The resin (sap-like) is very yellow and sticky.  It is also very aromatic.  To me it smells a bit like tea tree oil.  My kitchen still smells springy :).  If you don't wear gloves be prepared to get sticky, yellow fingers.

I pick carefully through the cottonwood buds.  I put about a cup full of cottonwood buds into the top of my funky homemade double broiler.  This time I added about 1 1/4 c. almond oil.  (I have made this with olive oil and added a bit of beeswax after it simmers.  It ends up more like a salve.)  Cover and simmer on lowest heat for at least 2 hours.  Do not make this in your favorite pan!  It is a sticky mess to scrub when you're done.
Here is the double broiler and the cottonwood buds are ready to simmer.

When it cools I strain it into a clean jar.  You can use it on small cuts, scrapes, rashes and skin abrasions.  I like best to warm the oil and massage it into my wrists and hands when they get achy.  Hi family.  Are you picking your cottonwood buds there?  I hope so. :)  I now feel like spring is here.  Here is the finished oil.  I cap mine and store it in the fridge.  When I make the salve w/olive oil I store it in a cleaned, recycled tin also in the fridge.  My fridge is an exciting destination. :)  Try warming gently and massaging into achy wrists.  Happy Spring!
Finished Oil


  1. Thanks for the info. And beautiful photos, too. As a writer, I never know when some tidbit of detailed information on nature will come in handy. Your are a treasure trove of insight, thanks, Roland

  2. Thank-you. Have a nice week. We like the outdoors and learning about the plants and animals around us.

  3. I've never heard of cottonwood bud oil before and there are loads of cottonwoods where I live. I'll have to try making this. Thanks for showing how. I wonder if the oil still has some stickiness to it?

  4. Thanks. It doesn't end up very sticky, but can stain yellow and is very aromatic. :) I'm waiting for my spruce tips, but there are tons of baby nettles. I do so love Spring! Thanks for all of the good ideas I love your blog!