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May 2024 HerbWalks & OjaiHerbal Newsletter

Welcome to May of 2024 and the HerbWalks & OjaiHerbal newsletter. Two months ago, I added this column to see if an herbal community of kindred spirits might come together around a shared love of Nature and a mutual enjoyment of sharing Nature, including sharing our thoughts. I think the reply below to the April “Dear Readers” column from Eric T.  is so insightful — and moves the conversation along so well — that I’m sharing it in full here:


“I loved reading your thoughts [about accepting weeds] at the beginning of your newsletter today.   I too, have been noticing more of an acceptance of the way things are as I get older. Humans tend to try to shape nature the way they think it should be, which usually ends badly. Humans are notorious for transporting non-native and invasive species. However, before humans, seeds would fall, blow, or wash into streams, which takes them to rivers, which takes them to the ocean where currents transport them to far off places. Birds also can also transport seeds thousands of miles away. Animals can transport seeds hundreds of miles away.  Wind can transport seeds hundreds of miles away.  So invasive species of plants have always been able to move from place to place. 


“Nature has a way of bringing everything into balance.  When an invasive species takes over because there are no predators or pathogens to keep them in check, organisms evolve to become predators and pathogens and balance is restored.   The fact that this takes longer than our lifetime makes us feel we have to do something now.  I also feel that urge to do something now when invasive species are detrimental to the environment in which they are growing.   Frustration occurs not knowing how and when to help nature and when to stand aside and let nature do its thing.  


“As I get older, I feel that nature has been doing its thing since the beginning of this earth successfully, so in most cases, we should just get out of nature's way.  As time goes on nature constantly evolves but as humans, we are constantly trying to keep things the same.  Therein lays a major conflict.”


Eric deftly breaks down the ways in which plants have been following their natural drive to live and to spread their seed far and wide. There are so many good reasons for them to keep pushing the envelope, to keep moving outside the box into unfamiliar territory. What a teaching for us humans right there! (No, I don’t mean the propagating part. We’re doing plenty of that. I mean the envelope part.)


I would add that while we speak often of using plants, it may be that, in reality, the plants are using us, along with all the other seed-dispersing elements and animals that serve them. Many plants have made their seeds so clingy or tiny that we can’t avoid transporting them. Other plants are so delicious or healing or visually beautiful that we can’t resist eating or growing them. So are we really “notorious" for transporting non-native and invasive species? Would it be a cop-out for us to answer, “Your honor, the plants made me do it?” Would that get us off the hook for our transgressions?


We’ll continue mining this vein into the nature of nature — and the nature of human nature — next month. If you have the time or inclination, please weigh in with a signed or unsigned comment of any length to


Thanks for reading,

May Events
 Nature Education Walk at Taft Preserve
Saturday, May 11
My monthly Natural History Walks at Taft Nature Preserve have been renamed "Nature Education Walks" but the concept and location are still the same. Of course, every walk at Taft is different because "no man walks through the same river twice," as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus wisely said. Please visit the link by clicking on the photo above to learn more and sign up.
 Potrero John Creek Nature Hike
Saturday, May 18
Please read the article down below to learn more about this great hike in the Sespe Wilderness, starting at a trailhead 20 miles into the mountains above Ojai. Click here or on the photo above to go straight to the event listing to read more and register
 Botany & Plant Identification Class
at Ema's Herbs in Ventura
Sunday, May 19

Please join me as I lead a 2-hour botany plant identification session as part of the Herbalism Course at Ema's Herbs in Ventura. Come learn about basic botany, plant identification, and local edible and medicinal flora of Southern California.


Ema’s Herbs is offering an 8-month course that focuses on Herbal Medicine Preparation, Holistic Health Principles, and Herbal Traditions for the Bioregion. Starting in May and going until November, they hope to "help people access herbal knowledge to address health needs and support each of their communities to uplift those around them." My Sunday afternoon classes from 3-5 p.m. on May 19 and June 9 are part of that course. 


NOTE: Enrollment in the full 8-month course is closed now but you can drop-in to any class for $20. Click here or on the image above to sign up.

 Full Moon Sunset Nature Hike & After-Party
Wednesday, May 22
Click on the photo to read more and and join me and Rondia for our signature monthly event. Experience how we take fun-filled learning to the next level with a plant hike, moonrise viewing, and after-party at Ojai Valley Brewery's heated outdoor patio where we sample beers crafted with local herbs while enjoying a bowl of Rondia's vegetarian chili. 
Photo: Full moon rising over Sulphur Mountain
Early June Event
 Herbal First Aid Walk and Workshop in Ojai with special guest Emily Watson
Saturday, June 1
Please read the article down below to learn about this collaboration in Ojai between me and Emily Watson, director and founder of Artemisia Academy of Herbal Arts & Healing. Or you can click the image above to go straight to the event listing and register. Open to everyone of all skill levels and prior knowledge, this also is one of two upcoming events that offer CEUs for California Acupuncturists. 
You can order my book by visiting this link or clicking on the book cover image above. Then at checkout you can use the “Order notes (optional)” field to request a simple autograph or a book signed to you or that special person who's receiving it as a gift. This personal touch is something not available when purchasing on Amazon. Plus you can support my authorship financially by buying directly from me. Thank you! 
If you're out and about at any of these outstanding businesses (and please do support them!), you can find my book on the shelf: in Ojai at Evergreen WellnessFarmer & the Cook, Krotona Quest BookshopOjai Cannabis Company, Ojai Valley Brewery, Ojai Valley MuseumRainbow Bridge, Sespe Creek Collective, and Westridge Market Midtown; in Ventura at Ema's Herbs, Green Thumb NurseryTimbre Books, and Ventura Spiritsin Sun Valley at Theodore Payne Foundation;  in Goleta at Island Seed & Feed; and, among many other places, at REI stores and Barnes & Noble locations throughout California. (All store names above are listed in alphabetical order within each city.)
If you own my book or you're considering it, here's another reminder to click on the following link for the free hyperlinked bibliography I created to save you the hassle of copying long URLs from the printed page to your browser for the web sources cited in the book.
Herb Walks Events
Herb Walks with Lanny Kaufer is California Acupuncture Board Provider #1526 
Still more opportunities for California
LAc's to earn CEUs at Herb Walks events 
I announced last month that Herb Walks with Lanny Kaufer is now offering Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for licensed California acupuncturists for selected workshops. Here are the current offerings. Please visit the links below for more information and please share with any acupuncturists you know:
Click on this screenshot to read the article by Case Adams.
The Journal of Plant Medicines does it right again

I'm very picky about where I get my information and I like to share my most reputable sources with my readers. So I'm happy to direct you to The Journal of Plant Medicines for this article on Yarrow ( Achillea millefolium).


Article author Case Adams, Ph.D., is a practicing naturopath in Central California with a doctorate in Integrative Health Sciences and many diplomas and certificates. He has written more than 30 books and hundreds of journal articles. He's also on the editorial board of the journal. 

Click on the photo above by Judy Cheske to learn about the May Full Moon Sunset Nature Hike & After-Party on Wednesday, May 22.
Hikers entering the canyon with Lanny.  Photo: Jill Forman
Don't miss this rare visit to a creekside trail in the Sespe Wilderness

Are you ready to immerse yourself in wild nature? Join me Saturday, May 18, for a Nature Hike on Potrero John Creek, deep in the Sespe Wilderness of the Los Padres National Forest. Beginning at 9 a.m., a 20-mile carpool/caravan will take us from Ojai to the trailhead. We’ll return to Ojai around 3 p.m. Starting our hike at an elevation of 3700 feet, we’ll meet a diverse group of plants representing the upper Chaparral and Riparian Woodland plant communities of Southern California.


This will be an easy-to-moderate hike of about 2-3 miles round-trip with sections of mild elevation gain and a few short creek crossings. We’ll stop often to identify edible, medicinal, and otherwise useful plants. We can expect to see a number of plants not found at lower elevations, including Bigcone Douglas-Fir, Incense-Cedar, Yerba Santa, Mariposa Lily, Giant Stinging Nettle, and others.


This hike is presented under a Special Use Permit from the U. S. Forest Service for guides and outfitters in the Los Padres National Forest. 


After the hike, participants will receive an email with a complete list of all plants and wildlife identified as well as other info.

Click here to learn more and register.
Most of the Ojai Ranger District (ORD) of the Los Padres National Forest        is open again although the current Forest Closure Order limits some campground and trail access through August 31, 2024, or until further notice. Only the Matilija Wilderness remains off-limits because the access road is closed by CalTrans.
 Pine Mountain campgrounds and trails and Nordhoff Ridge Road are still closed for the winter season and will reopen mid-to-late May.
For the latest complete info on Ojai District road closures, trails, campgrounds, permits and more, click on the USFS logo above. You can navigate to the. Santa Barbara District and others from there.
The Ojai Ranger Station/District Office is now open Thursday through Saturday from 9:00am - 2:00pm.
On the left: Young Margi Flint and on the right: Elder Margi Flint
Listen to Rosemary Gladstar "Inner-view" Margi Flint
In a recent episode of her series "Voices of our Herbal Elders," renowned herbalist and author Rosemary Gladstar "inner-viewed" equally renowned herbalist and author Margi Flint. Click on the image above or this link to listen to this free episode. 
Margi is the author of The Practicing Herbalist and is a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild. She is on staff at Pacific Rim College in British Columbia and continues to lecture at Bastyr University and Massachusetts College of Pharmacy.
Margi and I share a common mentor in the late herbalist William LeSassier. She is heading up a project to make his vast collection of unpublished writings and teachings available.
Make herbal first aid supplies to take home at this workshop.
Emily Watson
is coming to Ojai for our Herbal First Aid Walk and Workshop

Emily Watson, Director of the Artemisia Academy of Herbal Arts & Healing in Santa Barbara, will be my special guest for a 5-hour Herbal First Aid Walk and Workshop in Ojai on Saturday, June 1.


Spend the morning with us meeting the herbs personally at Ojai Valley Museum’s Chumash Garden.  Learn the local medicinal plants that grow right here in Southern California for treating bumps, bruises and injuries. In the afternoon, join Emily and me at Fisher Hall at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church to create your own kit of 5 herbal remedies for first aid.  


You will learn to make remedies for scrapes & stings, bumps & bruises, a wound wash, and an herbal bug spray. Then you'll go home with a holistic kit to add to your own regular first aid kit to help your family and friends!

ACUPUNCTURE CEUs: This course has been approved by the California Acupuncture Board, Provider Number 1526, for 6 hours of continuing education. 


To read more and register with or without the CEUs, click on the image above or this link.

Other Local Events of Interest
Sierra Club's May-June Condor Call, edited by "Condor John" Hankins. Cover painting by Chris Potter.
Rakus, a wild male Sumatran orangutan, eating leaves of the vine he just applied to the wound below his right eye.  Photo: Saidi Agam/Suaq Project/PA
Landmark article from Scientific Reports
Scientists have long suspected that early humans learned about edible and medicinal plants from watching wild animals. Indigenous peoples' oral histories support the idea. Animals have been seen using plants in what appeared to be self-medication but the plants they were using were not known to have medicinal properties.  
Finally, on May 3, 2024,'s journal Scientific Reports published the first systematically documented case of active wound treatment with a plant species know to contain biologically active substances by a wild animal. The article provides new insights into the origins of human wound care.
(Thanks to Dr. David White of Once Upon a Watershed  for bringing this article to my attention. Note:  David also explained to me recently why alcohol is the best method of removing poison oak oil from the skin after recent contact. Some soaps and plant saponins also can disperse oils but alcohol and Purell hand sanitIzer are the most effective.)
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