I bet you are all dying to know what I did with all that cottonwood we went wildcrafting for a few weeks ago. The next day, I put up the cottonwood bark and buds in different liquids to draw out the goodies. With the help of Herbal Roots Zine, we were able to experiment with several kinds of medicine. A mineral rich bitter vinegar tonic made with apple cider vinegar and bark that smells wonderful will be used on salads and as a drink. A bud-filled honey was made to spread on toast and for tea when those nasty wet coughs creep up.
Cottonwood is rich in salicin, similar to what is found in asprin, salicylic acid. Thus, it is a wonderful pain reliever. We made an olive oil mixture with the resinous buds for rubbing on sore muscles. And we also made a rubbing alcohol with buds and bark for use on those same muscles when an oil base just doesn’t feel good. I’m looking forward to trying this out next time I get one of my pinched nerves in my neck. Even after it’s unkinked, it aches for days. I’ll eventually make a salve from the oil for cuts, scrapes and burns.
Since we actually do get a bit of a winter, (the temps have been around 45 at night!), I’ve also been experimenting with ways to keep my oils warm. I modified the suggestion in HRZine a bit, by wrapping a heating pad around the oil and stuffing a towel in the top. It worked pretty well, though the safety feature kept me resetting it often. The oil smells very resinous and is darker than when it started so I’m assuming it worked.
In the desert, the cottonwood is perfect for harvesting right now. Though, I think cottonwood is still sleeping is most of the country, but just before it gets too warm, you should be able to go out and harvest some. If you do, I’d love to know what you do with it!