What’s that divine perfume wafting through the humid summer air? It’s honeysuckle, a wild-growing vine here that’s climbed enthusiastically all over the field fencing. Unpopular with some gardeners because it’s highly invasive, it’s a wildcrafter’s delight: the blooms make a heady wine, an aromatic syrup, and fantastic facial oil!
I prefer to harvest honeysuckle when it’s been hot out and the dew has dried on the blooms, to maximize the fragrance. That usually means that I’m out in the hot sun, trying not to get grabbed by the wickedly thorny brambles that grow in and around the honeysuckle bushes. I’ve yet to come out unscathed, but for this exquisite infused oil, it’s worth it!
This second bloom of the season is smaller than the one that occurred in early summer, but there are still plenty of flowers for the pollinators, as well as for me. Several very large bumblebees buzzed around the flowers, enjoying that sweet nectar hidden deep within the blooms. I made sure to give them a wide berth, but they hardly took notice of me.
I picked nearly a quart of the blooms, stopping periodically to snap photos of some of the wildflowers that grow in the pastures, too. Spotted Jewelweed (top left in photo below), a natural treatment for Poison Ivy exposure, was growing along the streambed, along with some tiny purple flowers and lots of miniscule white blooms. Part of the fun of foraging is enjoying the scenery – the flora and fauna change, and there’s always something new to discover.
After picking blooms, snapping photos, disentangling myself (carefully) from sticker bushes, and retracing my steps to find scissors that had fallen out of my pocket, I went back inside with my prize. My foraging bag is a repurposed TJ’s organic lemons bag – the mesh works well to gently hold my harvests, and, when empty, can easily be stuffed into a pocket. Plus, these bags are plastic…better to repurpose them than add them to the growing plastic waste problem.
To begin the infusion, I filled a jar with the collected blooms (removing any extra greenery like leaves) and then poured organic olive oil over it. The jar will be shaken daily for several weeks, then I’ll strain the spent blooms out. The finished oil will go into amber dropper bottles for easy dispensing and preservation.
I made a similar infusion last year, and the oil is silky, absorbs easily, and smells just like those incredible honeysuckle blooms. Even in the dead of winter, it’s a lovely reminder of the productiveness of summer and early autumn. I use it primarily before bed, and it’s been a real skin treat: honeysuckle has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties, in addition to its delightful fragrance. Just a few drops smoothed on the face and throat is all it takes. It’s also lovely for hair: a couple of drops combed through to the ends will help condition and add shine to your tresses; also use as beard conditioner. It’s hard to believe that this elixir is just oil and wildflowers – truly natural beauty care.
A truly useful “weed”…learn more about the health benefits of honeysuckle here.