At this time of the year many baby leaves are emerging from the ground. Often times the herbalist has a difficult time identifying the mature plant that these leaves will eventually produce. What Grandfather had Rick and I do was t find an emerging plant, mark it with a carved stick, or in your case a popsicle stick will work well, and observe it closely. At home we would do the same thing and draw pictures of the emerging leaves. Every day we would go back and visit our little emerging plants, adding to our drawings as the plants grew up. From that point we would watch the entire plant grow up, go to flower, then seed and finally wilting and die off in the fall. In this way we would know intimately each little plant from the moment the first green poked through the soil to the time it turned to a brown-gray dried state. Yet this was only the beginning because Rick and I would collect bags of seeds from these plants and much like the Johnny Appleseed character we would plant the seeds where ever we would find barren ground that had been disturbed by humans.
Another great way of learning is to mark various trees throughout your yard, park or in the depths of the pathless woods. Study the tree bark carefully along with its flowers and buds. Every day or so go back to the trees, shrubs and/or vines and watch the tree flowers bloom and the leaves emerge. Throughout the growing season watch the leaves grow full and finally in the fall what color changes come over the leaves. In this way when winter hits again you will be able to identify the trees of winter just by looking at their bark structure. One of the fun parts of all of this was naming both the trees and the baby emerging plants. They became like family to us where to this day most of the trees around my old home and especially around Grandfathers Camp still have names. Names that either Rick and I had given them or that Grandfather had given them. All in all this is the best way I know of to fully know and understand plants from beginning to end. As with the small seasonal plants we also collected the acorns, pine cones and other seeds and nuts from trees and planted them where they were needed. To this day, areas that had been barren when we were young are lush forests today. Again, ENJOY!!!!! In Medicine, Tom