Poplars are one of our favorite Northwest trees, lining the rivers and creeks, providing shade in the summer and turning gold in the fall. And you know that part of winter where it seems like it's lasted forever and it's never going to end? Usually somewhere around late January or February? That's when you can often find the poplars budding out, as if it to give us hope. Their scent on the air is one of the earliest signs that spring is approaching. And as it turns out, they also offer us wonderful medicine.
One of the defining characteristics of poplar buds is that they're a bit sticky. That's because they contain special resins which have a long tradition as being used for their anti-inflammatory powers. We like to gather newly formed buds and infuse them into oil to extract those healing resins, and in turn the oil works wonders to ease sore and swollen muscles. Though it smells so good, it can also be worn as a perfume!
On a rare sunny day several weeks ago, we made a little trip out to our favorite gathering spot along the river. The warmth of the sun had caused the buds to start releasing their volatile oils, filling the air with their warm, spicy scent. We generally try to gather buds from fallen branches as much as possible so that the standing trees can keep their leaves, and we were lucky to find quite a few downed branches. It was a beautiful afternoon, listening to the gentle sound of the water and the migrating birds as we gathered.
Back at the studio, we let the buds infuse into oil for several weeks. A few days ago, we finally strained it and used it to mix up a batch of our limited edition Poplar Bud Salve, a topical healing balm for soothing any kind of inflammation, especially aching muscles. It's great medicine for the spring, when we start to get out and move our bodies more, facing our winter stiffness and often overdoing it in the process. We've also been known to wear this salve just for the scent! We only make this special remedy once a year and in a very small quantity, so head over the shop to grab one while you can...and enjoy those spring adventures!