Posted by: wolfcampcollege | January 26, 2010

Wildcrafting with Skeeter

Kim and I traveled to Oyster Creek Farm and joined Michael “Skeeter” Pilarski, founder of Friends of the Trees, co-originator of the Barter Faire, Northwest Herbal Faire, Faerie-Human Relations Congress, and Permaculture Convergence among other fame.

Devil's Club with Skeeter Background

I mentioned during introductions that Skeeter had attended my second-ever Plant Walkabout at Deception Pass in 1998, and fortunately, I didn’t know I had a legend in my presence as I was only just learning ethnobotany at the time myself. He was very supportive and sent his son Ashely to camp that summer.

Kim Harvesting Devil's Club

We began with an overview and tool protocol before heading across the creek to harvest Devil’s Club with great respect. A close relative of Ginsing, this is a highly revered plant, and we learned to sustainably harvest it, then later in the day, process it for tincture. I’ve studied the plant before, but I didn’t know that the barbs often contain staph and that people have died of gangrene as a result.

Chris and Skeeter with Teasel

We returned to the Oyster Creek gardens, and harvested Dandelion Root for its many medicinal qualities, processing it later, as well as Teasel root to process as a naturopathic treatment for Lyme’s Disease.

Along the way we harvested Usnia lichen which is a strong anti-bacterial, and Kim and I made a tincture of it after returning home. Skeeter also showed everyone how to harvest Nettle root which is key for prostate health, and we used the new shoots with leaves as a lunchable. What a warm January!

Oregon Grape Root

After lunch, we went uphill to find Oregon Grape, whose roots we harvested for liver health as well as bacterial lung infection. Skeeter also said it can be ground into powder and used very similarly to Goldenseal. Kim and I also made tincture of it when we got home Friday night, having stopped at a Tulalip for 100 proof vodka on the way.

Kim & Skeeter with Licorice Fern

Another plant Skeeter harvested was Licorice Fern root which is a strong lung medicine, and there were other stops along the way as well. In fact, Kim and I have many more notes to include from the day, but who will read them all! It was as good a workshop as I’ve ever attended.



  1. Wow – thanks, Chris, for the refresher. I remember those afternoons with Skeeter, and I still tell all the kids I garden with that it’s not a “pick,” “mattock,” or “Pularski,” it’s a friggin’ “Pilaski,” named for the man I know who uses it best. I miss Oregon Grape. Do you know there are hardly nettles to be found in WV? But life is good here. You and Kim should come by if in the East. Ah, dreaming of all those old familiar plants…

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