Birch bark texture.

Ahtna Kanas Spring 2022

Ahtna Plants: Harvest Guidelines and Seasons

Harvesting Guidelines

  • Get permission from landowner.
  • Make sure the plant is strong and vital and harvest in the proper growing phase. Plants are particularly susceptible to pollution; harvest away from roads and other sources of contaminants, such as downstream from livestock or areas known to have had pesticide use.
  • Never take more than 25% from a given stand and make sure there are at least 10 specimens of the plant in the surrounding area before harvesting. Always leave the largest and smallest members of the plant community. Never harvest endangered or threatened species.
  • Monitor harvest areas every year to ensure the health of the plant community.
  • Properly identify the plant. There are many lookalikes that may cause adverse effects.
  • Don’t harvest more than needed. This seems obvious but can be tricky for beginners. You can always return to the area if needed.

Collection Seasons

  • Roots – Collect roots in early spring or late autumn, before the plant buds or after the aerial part of the plant begins to wither. Plants are usually dormant during these times and store their nutrients in the roots.
  • Bark – Late spring and early summer is a good time to collect plants for their bark. The plants are in their growing phase and have ample sap. The bark has more nutrients at this time and is more easily separated from the woody parts.
  • Stems, branches, leaves – In general, whole plant parts should be collected in the late spring and early summer when they are growing luxuriantly.
  • Flowers – Collect flowers for medicinal purposes as buds are just beginning to bloom to avoid loss of fragrance and petals. Collect over several separate occasions to allow the plant to recuperate.
  • Fruits – Collect when ripe. Some species may need to be collected before the fruit has fully ripened.
  • Seeds and kernels – Gather when fruit is completely ripe. Fruits that could crack and lose their seeds are collected on sunny days as soon as they are ripe but have not yet cracked.