Natural sites are suitable for collecting herbs, far from cities and highways, railways. Meadows are only suitable those that have never been ploughed. Such meadows are recognizable by the absence of dandelions. Forests are suitable mature, with a large variety of trees and shrubs. Wetlands are usually all suitable for collecting herbs, unless they are turned into peatlands. The natural shores of water bodies are also rich in medicinal plants. Herbs can be harvested at any time of year, as from some plants we collect buds, from others we collect leaves, flowers, fruits, roots, bark.

Medicinal plants are harvested at a time when they contain the most active substances. The same plant may contain different amounts of active substances. It depends not only on the time of year but also on the time of day. It is also important when the plant is picked, day or night, moonlight or not. During the full moon, most of the active substances are in the upper part of the plant (leaves, flowers), and in the lower part (roots, rhizomes) during the new moon. This can be explained by the fact that during full moon, the plants consume more water, which, when moving towards the top of the plant, carries the active substances. During the new moon, water consumption is reduced and the active ingredients are more present in the lower part of the plant.

Medicinal raw materials are collected in baskets, boxes, cloth bags. The raw material must not be pressed, as it heats up and thus reduces its quality.


Buds (Gemmae)

They are harvested early in the spring, when they have begun to ripen but have not yet unfolded. They then contain the most active substances. Budding is the shortest phase of plant development, so it is important to harvest them early. The buds of many trees are cut with twigs, and the dried buds are separated from them. The buds of trees and shrubs can only be harvested from the felled trees. In other places, they are harvested from only the lower part of the crown.

Leaves (Folia)

The leaves are harvested fully developed and of normal size. It is best to collect the leaves at the beginning of flowering of the plant, because then they contain the most active substances. The leaves of some plants are collected throughout the season. Do not collect yellowed, withered, disease and pest damaged leaves. The leaves can be picked, scissors cut or cut with a knife. Not all leaves of the plant should be picked, and care should be taken to minimize damage to the plant.

Herb (Herba)

The herb consists of the stem of the plant with leaves and flowers, sometimes with buttons and immature fruits. For small plants, the stem is cut low, and for larger plants with a thick stem, the upper leafy part of the stem with flowers is cut. The herbs are collected during flowering, sometimes during buttonization or during fruit ripening.

It is forbidden to grub out plants. At least half of the healthy plants must be left.

Flowers (Flores)

The term “flower” in the broad sense refers to inflorescences, flowers or separate parts thereof. For medicines, either the entire inflorescence of the plant (daisy, lily of the valley, clematis), or the individual flowers (cilantro, marigold) or just the individual parts of the flower (petals, moths, etc.) are collected. The flowers are picked at the beginning of flowering, sometimes during buttonization. The healing value of the flowers cut at the end of flowering is lower.

Fruits and seeds (Fructus et semina)

Fruits come in real ones (poppy boxes, currant, blueberry berries, hazelnuts), composite and accessory fruits (apples, pears, rosehip). “Seeds” means whole seeds and parts thereof. Fruits and seeds are harvested ripe, but loose fruits (cumin, dill, coriander, etc.) are collected at the beginning of ripening, early in the morning. Part of the seeds of annual plants must be sown.

Cortex (Cortex)

The cortex of plants that are not older than 3-4 years is suitable for medicines, but some cortices is also collected from older trees (oak cortex is peeled from trees up to 20 years old). Older plants produce cork tissue in their cortex, part of it is woody, and little active substance remains. Most of the active ingredients are in the cortex of trees in autumn and spring, but it is difficult to peel it in autumn because it is pruned to the wood. It is usually peeled in the spring before the leaves have spread. The bark is peeled on a dry, clear day. Initially, the bark is incised every 20 to 30 cm across and then longitudinal incisions are made. It is lifted from wood with a wooden, bone or plastic knife (an iron knife is unsuitable as it causes the bark to turn black).

Roots (Radices) and rhizomes (Rhizomata)

Mostly lifted in autumn. Can be prepared in any weather and any time of the day. After they are lifted, clean or rinse them immediately, remove small roots and remnants of the stem. Large parts should be sliced.

Continue reading: “Preparing herbs“.