φlato’s Garden
2024 Canada
SCAVENGER HUNT

The Plato's Garden CANADA Scavenger Hunt

JUNE 21 - SEPTEMBER 21 (2024)

scavenger hunt

Prizes for Exploring Nature? YES!

Ever wished you had an excuse to go out to that great park in your city, or that little forest down the road, or that little creek on the way to work, or deeper into the National Parks of Canada? I know you love it, you know you love it, but for some reason you just can’t seem to get out there… You could go hunting, you could go camping as an excuse… sure.. sure.. But now you’ve got an even better one (My favourite of all). 

While you’re out exploring, scouting the enthralling curves of Nature, and getting a lay of the land (you’ll know those woods like the back of your hand), you can be on the lookout for medicinal herbs, animal signs, and minerals! And just by doing that while exploring a natural (or urban) landscape, you can win some fabulous prizes!  

Table of Contents

What You Can Win

Sun Box
(Level 1 Detoxification) 
This Beginner’s Detox Kit 
Includes:

1). Anti-Parasite + Anti-Fungal Capsules
2). Stomach and Bowels Capsules (Non-addictive laxative)
3).Kidney + Lymphatic System Tea
4).Kidney + Lymphatic System Tincture 
5). Lung / Diaphoretic Tea
6). Skin Cream

Grand Prize "Sun Box" | Detoxification Kit

Sun Box

$277 dollar value. Includes a short consultation to ensure no contraindications with medications or health concerns + free shipping from Plato’s Garden

To win: Follow @platosgarden.ca on Instagram

Sun Box (L1)

Includes one month’s worth of powerful, natural herbal blends, all designed to cleanse and strengthen the major eliminative organs/systems of your body. 

This herbal kit will aid to remove parasites and fungals, nourish and flush the kidneys and bladder, cleanse the skin and lungs, clean out the bowels, and get the lymphatic system flowing.

 

Experience the power of natural, organic / wild-crafted herbs. Pair this kit with a cleansing diet for even more incredible results. 

Amazing Sponsors & Additional Prizes to Win

To enter your name into the draw for any of the additional prizes, simply follow their Instagram account. After the winner for the Sun Box is drawn, additional prizes will be drawn for in random order. A participant can only win one prize.

Ruby Herbalist

Ruby's Healing Garden

Ruby is a Certified Herbalist & Passionate Gardener. She has been involved in the organic, regenerative agriculture & holistic wellness industries for almost a decade. She loves to share the secrets of successful natural fabric dyeing, gardening + more. And loves formulating herbal infused products for you to feel happy & healthy.

Her mission is to enhance self-care, empowerment & creativity in your life. You will find her in the garden! Her personal sanctuary & place of inspiration for these products & classes.

What you can Win!

Ruby's prizes

Prize 1
Win a Natural Fabric Dye + Eco Prints Workshop! (Online / In-Person)
 Learn to use locally grown botanicals to dye sustainable fabrics! Work with different botanicals to get desired pigments, dye natural fabrics, use safe mordants to make colorfast fabrics, and more. 

Prize 2
Win a Self-care Herbal Bundle
Includes Goat Milk Magnesium Bath Salts, A Hibiscus Lip & Face Balm, and an herbal Skin Repair Salve! 
All products are herbal-infused, organic, and locally sourc
ed or grown. 

To Enter the Draw for these prizes, simply follow Ruby on Instagram

@rubys.healing.garden.selfcare

See everything Ruby does here: Link Tree

kelseykatrinaa

Kelsey Katrina

Kelsey is a certified master herbalist, guided meditation teacher, and reiki practitioner with a passion for holistic healing. 

What You Can Win

Join her for a 30-minute guided meditation session via video call or a 20-minute distance reiki session, designed to soothe your nervous system, promote deep relaxation, and sharpen your focus to melt away stress and anxiety. Let Kelsey guide you on a journey to tranquility and inner peace. 

To Enter the Draw for Kelsey’s prize, follow her on Instagram

Iridology Prize

3 Iridology Readings from Plato's Garden

The eyes may be the window to your Soul, but they are also the window into the cellular integrity of your entire physical body. Learn the genetic strengths and weaknesses of your internal body with a reading of the iris! An iridology reading by a trained iridologist can give insight into your health issues by revealing the cellular integrity of your organs/glands (e.g. the pineal gland, the pituitary, the adrenals, gallbladder, etc.). Learn the level of stagnation of the lymphatic system, weaknesses in regions of your skeletal system (e.g. knee, back), the state of your digestive system, and learn the basics of how to remedy whatever problems may be found. Herbalists at Plato’s Garden believe that organs and glands can be regenerated, and that the lymphatic system can be urged to flow and draw waste out of the body. 

To Enter the Draw for an Iridology reading, find one Natural Object in the Scavenger Hunt list

To Win: Follow @platosgarden.ca on Instagram

 

Rules of the Scavenger Hunt

oregon grape
oregon grape
  1.  The contest begins on Summer Solstice and ends Fall Equinox (June 21 – September 21, 2024)
  2. Sign up with the Sign Up button to get access to the downloadable Scavenger Hunt List and receive updates through the summer. 
  3. The more you identify and document, the more draws you get to win prizes. If you identify at least one herb/animal/mineral, you get 1 draw. If you find 2 of them you get 2 draws, etc. If you find ALL herbs/animals/minerals you get 77 draws (there are 37 items on the list). A participant can win only one prize. 
  4. When you find the herb/track/mineral, take either a selfie with it, or show a goat symbol somewhere in the photo, so that we know YOU found it. (see image)
  5. For Instagram: Upload your photos/reels to Instagram with the hashtag #Platosgarden, follow the Platosgarden.ca account, and tag @Platosgarden.ca in all posts containing an item from the scavenger list (this is how we track your draws).
    For Pinterest: Join the Scavenger Hunt Board here and post your pics!
  6. We don’t recommend harvesting or gathering. Use this contest as a way to boost your experience in Nature-identification with the senses of sight and smell.
  7. Have fun exploring!

Herb / Animal / Rock Identification Guides

The remainder of this page is a field-guide for helping you identify medicinal herbs, animal tracks, and minerals in the wild. This is only an introduction to identifying and using natural living objects, but we don’t recommend harvesting any herb/mineral! Use this challenge as an introduction or added boost to your Nature identification skills. 

Medicinal Herb Identification

The following are some descriptions and tips for finding all of the medicinal herbs on the Scavenger Hunt list. A plant identification book in the field is useful. If you want to consume an herb either as food, tea, or tincture, you’ll need to take the time to be 100% certain you are handling the herb you think you’re handling. Always utilise multiple sources of information. There are poisonous lookalikes for some species. There are also varieties / species which are not the official medicinal species, with varying medicinal properties. 

The “Medicinal Purposes” section is only a basic and general introduction, and is how I generally see the herb from my perspective as an herbalist; but each of the herbs on this list have a myriad of intricate and subtle medicinal abilities. 

Difficulty: Easy

dandelion

Dandelion #1

The most common, and arguably the most needed, herb found in urban and rural settings. 

Where to Find:
Find on disturbed, cultivated, waste grounds, and urban areas. 

Basic Description:
Dandelions have bright yellow flowerheads, which transform into fluffy, white, round seed-clusters. Most important to remember when identifying dandelion is that the flowerheads are held on a hollow stalk which bears no leaves or any other flowers. The long stalk holds one flower, and only one, or it isn’t dandelion. The root is milky when freshly broken. Leaves are basal (grow at the base of the plant forming a rosette), with triangular, jagged lobes. 

Detailed Description:
Perennial herb with bitter, milky sap and thick taproots. Leaves basal, 2-16″ (5-40cm) long, with triangular, backward-pointing loves. Flowerheads bright yellow, 1 3/8 – 2″ (3.5-5cm) across, with ray florets only, borne on hollow, leafless stalks, in May to August. Fruits yellowish to pale gray or oive-brown, spiny-ribbed seed-like achenes 1/8″ (3-4mm) long, tipped with a stalked cluster of white hairs, forming fluffy, round heads.

Medicinal Purposes:
The medicinal species is Taraxacum officinale. The leaf is one of the best kidney herbs, the root is great for the liver and gallbladder and thus digestion. 

Yarrow #2

The latin Achillea is derived from a legend of the Greek hero Achilles, who used Yarrow to treat the wounds of his army. 

Where to Find: 
Yarrow grows in open, often disturbed sites in plains to alpine zones. 

Basic Description: 
Fern-like, feathery, alternate leaves. Flowerheads come in a number of colors based on the species, but the medicinal variety (Achillea millefolium) is typically white/pinkish. 

Detailed Description:
Aromatic, perennial herb, 4-32″ (10-80cm) tall, from spreading rootstocks. Leaves alternate, fern-like, 2-3 times pinnately divided into fine segments 1/16″ (1-2mm) wide. Flowerheads white (sometimes pinkish), about 1/4″ (5mm) across, with about 5 white ray florets around 10-30 yellowish disc florets, forming flat-topped clusters 3/4-4″ (2-10cm) across, in May to September. Fruits hairless, flattened seed-like achenes. 

Medicinal Purposes:
The medicinal species is Achillea millefolium. Useful as a styptic (stops bleeding), pain-killer, and works a an effective diaphoretic (causes you to sweat), which when combined with a steam-bath (especially) can help cleanse the skin or break a fever. 
The essential oil derived from the variety “Moonshine Yarrow”, which has yellow flowerheads, helps with depression. 

 

Cattail #3

Where to Find:
Seek in calm water in plains, foothills, and mountain zones. 

Basic Description:
Sharp, sword-like leaves that can grow several feet tall. Has distinctive flower-spikes resembling brown, sausage-shaped structures at the top of the stem. 

Detailed Description:
Emergent, perennial herbs with pithy stems from coarse root-stocks. Leaves sword-like, rather stiff and spongy. Flowers tiny, lacking petals and sepals, forming dense, cylindrical spikes, with yellow male flowers at the tip (soon disintegrating) and green to brown female flowers below, in June to July. Fruits tiny seed-like achenes with a tuft of long hairs, borne in brown spikes. 

Medicinal Purposes:
Cattail is a plant which has endless uses. I see Cattail as more of a food-source and building material, but it does have several medicinal purposes, including wound-dressing and antiseptic actions from the downy fluff. 

Red Clover #4

A common lymphatic herb found in fields and valleys. 

Where to Find:
Grows in many places. Seek it out on disturbed ground, rocky areas near rivers, fields, and meadows. 

Basic Description:
Ground-cover plant with leaves divided into 3 oval leaflets (*The 3 oval leaflets are the parts of what is considered one leaf (also called a “compound leaf”)). Flowers are red-pink, borne in dense, round heads. Stems are erect or spreading. The distinguishing feature of Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) are the whitish V-shaped markings on the leaflets. 

Detailed Description:
Red Clover is the largest of the 3 common species, with plants 16-32″ (40-80 cm) tall and leaflets 3/4-2″ (2-5 cm) long. It has large (1/2-3/4″ [12-20mm] long), stalkless, usually red or deep pink flowers in dense, 3/4-11/4″ (2-3 cm) wide heads with 1-2 short-stalked leaves at the base. 

Medicinal Purposes: 
Red Clover acts as a cleansing herb by activating the lymphatic system. Historically it was taken internally as an antidote for poisonous bites and stings of snakes and scorpions. It is also helpful for coughs, fevers, and other healing crisis symptoms. 
*Combining a lymphatic herb like Red Clover with a kidney herb, such as Dandelion leaf or Stinging Nettles, is useful, as the kidneys are the primary eliminative organs of the lymphatic system. 

mugwort

Mugwort #5

A powerful spiritual herb which can enhance dreams. 

Where to Find:
Seek on dry, open sites in plains, foothills and mountain zones. 

Basic description:
There are several varieties of Mugwort, but the most common medicinal variety is Artemisia vulgaris. Grows up to 3-6 ft, with slender, erect, reddish stems. Flowerheads are small, yellowish, and arranged in spikes or panicles (branching flower clusters) at the tops of the stems. Leaves are lanceolate to ovate, alternate, dark-green on top and silvery white beneath. 

Detailed Description:
Aromatic, perennial herbs with alternate leaves. Flowerheads small, yellowish, with disc florets only, borne in narrow to open branched clusters, in June to October. Fruits hairless seed-like achenes. The leaves are lanceolate to ovate, alternate, deeply lobed, dark-green on top, with a silvery-white underside (10-20 cm long). Leaves have a strong, aromatic scent when crushed, similar to Wormwood or Sage due to the phytochemical thujone. 

Medicinal Purposes:
Physically acts as a grounding, digestive herb which enhances digestive stimulation and increases appetite. Can be used to treat worms and parasitic infestations. Helpful also for insomnia, depression, stress, and may induce vivid, lucid dreams. 

goldenrod

Goldenrod #6

A gentle lung, kidney, and bladder herb used to ease coughs and flu. 

Where to Find:
Seek in open foothiils, alpine slopes, and valleys. 

Basic Description: 
Goldenrod grows 1-4′ (30-120 cm) tall, with alternate, simple (not compound) leaves. The flowerheads are small, yellow, and form branched clusters in July-October. 

Detailed Description: 
Erect, perennial herbs with alternate, simple leaves. Flowerheads yellow, small (less than 3/8″ [1cm] across), with few (about 10-17) ray florets around a small cluster of disc florets, forming branched clusters, in July to October. Fruits nerved seed-like achenes tipped with a tuft of white, hair-like bristles. The best-known goldenrods are robust, 1-4′ (30-120 cm) tall plants with creeping rootstocks. 

Medicinal Purposes:
Goldenrod is primarily used for respiratory and urinary tract conditions in Western Herbalism. The herb can help promote the flow of urine in urinary retention and relieve urinary tract infections. In cases of cough or flu where you want the healing crisis to end, Goldenrod can be used. 
*The use of Goldenrod for a cough, for instance, is different in action to something like Echinacea, Plantain, or Red Clover. The latter herbs will stimulate the lymphatic system and increase the cleansing effect the body is attempting to perform; whereas Goldenrod is a less aggressive remedy which will halt the discharging of mucous and calm the immune system.  

Wild Rose #7

Wild Rose is full of nourishment, and aids a grieving heart. 

Where to find: 
Seek in plains, subalpine zones, foothills, and mountain areas. 

Basic Description:
A thorny plant with compound leaves divided into 5-7 leaflets. Flowers usually light pink to deep rose, 5-petaled, fragrant, blooming from June to August. Fruits are called rosehips, with red-purple color, berry-like, with a fleshy, not particularly tasty outer layer enclosing multiple seeds. 

Detailed Description:
Thorny to prickly, deciduous shrubs with leaves pinnately divided into about 5-7 oblong, toothed leaflets. Flowers light pink to deep rose, 5-petaled, fragrant, forming branched clusters, in June to August. Fruits scarlet to purplish, round to pear-shaped, berry-like hips, 5/8-1 1/4″ (1.5-3 cm) long, with a fleshy outer layer enclosing many stiff-hairy achenes. 

Medicinal Purposes:
The rosehips are loaded with vitamins, particularly vitamin C, making them a nourishing addition to a cold/flu blend or simply as a nutritive. The petals are a gentle heal-all sort of herb (anti-inflammatory / antioxidant), with nervine actions for stress and depression, and is energetically thought to embrace and strengthen a grieving heart. 

plantain

Plantain #8

A humble, well-travelled, tremendously kind and helpful herb found in urban and rural settings. If Tim Gunn were an herb he might be plantain. 

Where to Find:
Seek in alleyways, as well as in disturbed, cultivated, or waste ground in plains, foothills, and mountain areas. 

Basic Description:
A bright green ground herb, with oval leaves growing in a circle around the base. The distinguishing feature of plantain are the veins of the leaves, which begin at the base of the leaf and travel in a straight or curved line to the top of the leaf. There are some plantain look-a-likes, but usually their veins are much different. The flowers of plantain are erect, green spikes which bloom from May to September. 

Detailed Description:
Clumped, perennial herb with a basal rosette of oval, 5-7 ribbed leaves 1 5/8-7″ (4-18 cm) long and abruptly tapered to winged stalks. Flowers greenish, about 1/16″ (2 mm) across, with 4 whitish petals, forming dense, slender, 1 1/4-12″ (3-30 cm) long spikes, in May to September. Fruits membranous capsules 1/8″ (2-4 mm) long, opening by a lid-like top to release tiny, dark seeds. 

Medicinal Purposes:
The medicinal varieties are Plantago major & Plantago lanceolata (the photo is Plantago major). If you cut yourself or are bitten by a poisonous insect / animal, plantain is a great remedy. Chew up the leaves and place it on the wound. It works similarly when taken internally, as it is essentially a lymphatic and wound-healing herb. There are stories of mongooses being bitten by the poisonous snakes, which are their prey, and seeking plantain as a remedy. This is my go-to herb for cuts and bug-bites, and is second perhaps only to Aloe vera. 

 

Difficulty: Medium

mullein

Mullein #9

When I find mullein, I think of vibrating spiritual energy, and the lungs. 

Where to Find: 
Seek near water, on disturbed grounds, plains, and subalpine zones. 

Basic Description:
A rather tall herb, with fuzzy leaves growing in circles close to a single stem, and bright yellow flowers spiralled on a spiked top. 

Detailed Description:
Grayish-felted, biennial herb with single stems 16-79″ (40-200 cm) tall. Leaves many, 4-16″ (10-40 cm) long, in basal rosettes (first and sometimes second year) alternate on the flowering stem (second year). Flowers bright yellow, 1/2-3/4″ (1-2 cm) wide, 5-lobed, forming dense, spike-like clusters 4-20″ (10-50 cm) long, in June to August. Fruits round, wooly capsules, 1/4-3/8″ (7-10 mm) long. 

Medicinal Purposes:
The medicinal species is Verbascum thapsus. The leaves relax and simultaneously dispel congestion from the lungs. For conditions of the lungs and breath, mullein is one of the first herbs an herbalist will consider. 

Horsetail #10

Horsetail helps the hair, nails, bones, and teeth. 

Where to Find:
Seek in swamps, close to water, sand, foothills, and mountains. 

Basic Description:
Horsetail grows in two phases, a fertile phase in early spring which resembles a brush, and later a sterile/vegetative phase which resembles the tail of a horse. The vegetative phase is preferred in herbal medicine. 

Detailed Description:
Perennial herbs with hollow, jointed, vertically ridged stems from creeping rootstocks. Leaves reduced to small scales, fused into sheaths on the stem. Reproduction is by spores borne in cones (strobili) at the stem tips. Horsetail produces 2 types of plants: brownish, unbranched fertile plants, 4-16″ (10-25 cm) tall (in spring), and green, horse-tail-like, sterile plants, 4-16″ (10-40 cm) tall (in summer). 

Medicinal Purposes:
The common medicinal variety is Equistem arvense. Horsetail is rich in silica, calcium, and other minerals, and is well regarded for strengthening the hair, bones, nails, and teeth.. Made into a tea it aids the kidneys and bladders.
Warning: Don’t consume too much of this herb.  

bearberry

Bearberry #11

Another humble and helpful herb. Bearberry is added to smoke blends, and is most helpful for the bladder and kidneys. 

Where to FInd:
Seek in well-drained areas, foothills, mountains, subalpine and alpine slopes. 

Basic Description:
Bearberry is a ground-cover herb with leathery, spoon-shaped leaves. The flowers are quite short-lived, but later in the summer you can easily identify this herb by spotting the bountiful red berries on the forest floor. 

Detailed Description:
Bearberry is a trailing evergreen shrub with leathery, evergreen, spoon-shaped leaves 3/8-1 1/8″ (1-3 cm) long. Its small (1/8-1/4″ [4-6 mm]) floers appear in May to June and produce red, 1/4-3/8″ (6-10 mm), mealy fruits by late summer. 

Medicinal Purposes:
Bearberry cleanses the urinary tract and aids the kidneys. Can be used for urinary tract infections or as a kidney/bladder tonic. 

Birch #12

Birch is a beautiful plant with many uses. 

Where to Find:
Seek in foothills to subalpine zones. 

Basic Description:
There are multiple varieties, with varying medicinal properties. Birch has bright white bark with black markings which strips off in sheets. Flowers jagged and spade-shaped. Flowers are arranged together in what are called catkins, which look like dangling, fuzzy caterpillars.

Detailed Description:
Small deciduous tree with smooth, white to yellowish bark that peels off in papery sheets. Leaves 1 5/8-3 1/2″ (4-9 cm) long, yellow in autumn. Flowers tiny, in dense, slender clusters (catkins), with male and female catkins on the same tree. Pollen (male) catkins 2-4″ (5-10 cm) long, loosely hanging. Seed (female) catkins 3/4-1 1/2″ (2-4 cm) long, erect, shedding winged nutlets and 3-lobed scales, in April to May. 

Medicinal Purposes:
Birch has many uses. The sap can be drunk or turned into syrup, the bark contains a phytochemical called xylitol which is commercially produced for teeth health (by increasing alkaline saliva), the medicinal fungus Chaga makes its home on its trunk, as well as the medicinal properties of the leaves, twigs, and bark – including anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and anti-microbial actions. 

juniper

Juniper #13

Be careful never to harvest Juniper berry unless you’re adept at identifying it. There is an ornamental, toxic variety which isn’t easy to distinguish in some areas.

Where to Find:
Seek on dry, open sites in plains to alpine zones. Juniper is a pioneer species which will grow in areas few others plants are habituated. 

Basic Description:
The Juniperus genus is quite easy to identify, but care needs to be taken to distinguish between the different varieties, as there is a toxic variant. I won’t attempt to explain the subtle difference here, so bare in mind we recommend not to harvest it without additional research.
Juniperus communis, the common medicinal variety, is a spreading evergreen shrub with a wide range of shape and height, from 1-10 ft, with small blue-green berries (cones), with sharp needles. 

Detailed Description:
Spreading, tall evergreen shrub with small, 1/4-3/8″ (5-9 mm), bluish-green ‘berries’ (actually fleshy cones), produced in April to May and maturing the following year. Leaves sharp, 1/4-1/2″ (5-12 mm) long needles, in whorls of 3. 

Medicinal Purposes:
The medicinal variety is Juniperus Communis. The primary use for Juniper berry is as a stimulating, anti-microbial / anti-septic diuretic for the kidneys and bladder. A strong general health herb (for its benefit to the kidney), and good for urinary tract infections; but due to its strong volatiles, it should be used somewhat cautiously. 

 

licorice

Licorice #14

Licorice is a plant which helps us deal with the stresses of life. The root is a powerful digestive and adrenal gland herb, and can be chewed on by teething babies to relieve pain and distress.  

Where to Find:
Seek this friendly plant on sandy bluffs, pathways near rivers, plains, and foothills. 

Basic Description:
Licorice grows up to 3 1/2 ft, and has compound leaves divided into 11-19 lance-shaped leaflets. Flowers are yellow-white or green-white clusters, pea-like, forming into dense, brown, bur-like pods. The leaf pattern is similar to vetches but can be distinguished by the location and appearance of the flowers. 

Detailed Description:
 Aromatic, glandular-dotted, perennial herb with leafy, 1-3 1/4′ (30-100 cm) tall stems from deep, spreading rootstocks. Leaves pinnately divided into 11-19 lance-shaped, 3/4-1 5/8″ (2-4 cm) long leaflets. Flowers yellow-white to greenish-white, pea-like, about 1/2″ (12 mm) long, forming dense, stalked clusters, in May to August. Fruits brown, bur-like pods, 3/8-5/8″ (10-15 mm) long, covered with hooked bristles. 

Medicinal Purposes:
The medicinal variety is Glycyrrhiza glabra. Licorice root is a great adrenal and digestive herb. For stress, anxiety, low energy, and in some cases hormonal problems, licorice is a blessed herb. 
  

raspberry

Raspberry #15

One of the most loved plants for its berries alone; but the leaves are also great aids to the female reproductive system. 

Where to Find:
Seek in foothills and mountain zones. 

Basic Description:
Raspberry is a prickly shrub with compound leaves with 3-5 saw-toothed leaflets. Flowers are white, in small clusters, and produce delicious red berries. 

Detailed Description:
Prickly shrubs with branches (canes) that live 2 years. Leaves divided into 3-5 doubly saw-toothed leaflets. Flowers white, about 3/8″ (1 cm) across, forming small clusters near the branch tips, in June to July (for Rubus idaeus). Fruits juicy druplets, in clusters that are about 3/8″ (1 cm) across (raspberries). Wild red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) has red fruit and slender prickles. 

Medicinal Purposes:
Rubus idaeus is the medicinal variety. The fruit is a powerful general health food, and especially beneficial to the brain. The leaf aids the female reproductive system. 

stinging nettle

Stinging Nettle #16

Stinging nettle is a great kidney and nutritive herb. 

Where to Find:
Seek on moist, rich, often disturbed ground in plains, foothills, and mountain zones. 

Basic Description:
An erect herb covered in prickly, stinging hairs. Leaves are opposite, lance to heart shaped and saw-toothed. Flowers are small and greenish, hanging in clusters from the upper leaf axils. Male stinging nettles will have less bountiful flowers, whereas female plants will have dense clusters that droop and produce seeds. Usually nettle grows 3-7 ft but can reach up to 10 ft. 

Detailed Description:
Erect, perennial herb, armed with stinging hairs, with 4-sided, 1 1/2-10′ (50-300 cm) tall stems. Leaves opposite, slender-stalked, narrowly lance-shaped to heart-shaped, 1 5/8-6″ (4-15 cm) long and coarsely saw-toothed. Flowers greenish (sometimes pinkish), 1/16″ (1-2 mm) long, with 4 tiny sepals and no petals, borne in hanging clusters from upper leaf axils, in April to September. Fruits lends-shaped seed-like achenes 1/16″ (1-2 mm) long. 

Medicinal Purposes:
The latin name of the medicinal variety is Urtica dioica. This is a general health herb, mostly because of its effect on the kidneys. Remedying the kidneys has a ripple effect all across the body, and stinging nettle is popularly used for its effectiveness on allergies and aiding minor sicknesses. It is also rich in minerals, particularly iron. 

Difficulty: Hard

st john's wort

St. John's Wort #17

 A renowned anti-depressant, a plant that remedies sorrow and brings joy. Not for combination with pharmaceutical anti-depressants. 

Where to Find:
Seek on disturbed grounds at lower elevations, foothills, mountains, subalpine, and alpine zones. 

Basic Description:
Most easily identifying by their 5-petaled bright yellow flowers, with many stamens. The lance-shaped leaves have no petioles (stalk attaching the leaf to the stem). Grows up to 3 ft tall. 

Detailed Description:
Hairless, perennial herbs with opposite, stalkless leaves and bright yellow flowers, both usually dotted along their edges with tiny, black glands. Flowers about 3/4″ (2 cm) across, 5-petaled, with 75-100 stamens gathered in 3 bundles, borne in leafy, open clusters, in June to September. Fruits small capsules. Hypericum perforatum (the medicinal variant) has slender sepals (3-5 times longer than wide) and lance-shaped leaves. 

Medicinal Purposes:
Hypericum perforatum is the medicinal variety. This powerful herb remedies depression by relaxing and restoring the nervous system. 

St. John’s Wort affects serotonin and several mechanisms in the brain and nervous system concurrently being affected by many pharmaceuticals (not just anti-depressants). If you’re on pharmaceuticals of any kind, it’s a good idea to talk with a herbalist before trying this herb. 

hawthorn

Hawthorn #18

Hawthorn is a blessed tree renowned for its healing power on the heart. 

Where to Find:
Seek in well-drained foothills, open plains, mountain, and subalpine zones. 

Basic Description:
Hawthorn trees (sometimes shrubs) are most distinguishable by their strong, straight thorns along the branches. There is variation in leaf shape between Crataegus species, but leaves are generally oval with a wedge-shaped base. Flowers are white, 5-petaled, growing in clusters that turn into “haws” (tiny apples). 

Detailed Description:
Deciduous shrubs or small trees with strong, straight thorns. Leaves alternate, generally oval, with a wedge-shaped base. Flowers whitish, 5-petaled, unpleasant-smelling, forming showy, flat-topped clusters, in May-June. Haws small, pulpy, red to purplish pomes (tiny apples), containing 1 nutlet. 

Medicinal Purposes:
Crataegus monogyna is the most commonly used variety in herbal medicine, though most varieties of Crataegus have similar actions.  The flowers and haws/’berries’ are powerful heart remedies, working on the heart in a myriad of beneficial ways. 

scavenger hunt

Oregon Grape #19

This herb benefits the liver and gallbladder, which simultaneously tends to benefit the bowels and skin. 

Where to find:
If you live in BC, this is the probably the easiest herb to find on the list; seek it in any forested slope. For all other regions in Canada it is more difficult, but varieties can still be found (e.g. Mahonia repens); seek in forested foothills and mountain slopes. 

Basic Desciption:
Wintergreen shrubs with leathery, spiny-edged leaflets (holly-like). Flowers are yellow, growing in clusters, and turning into purplish-blue grape-like berries. The flowers/berries grow out of the stem of the plant.

Detailed Description:
Low, wintergreen shrubs with leathery, holly-like leaves pinnately divided into spiny-edged leaflets, red or purple in winter. Flowers yellow, about 5/8″ (1 cm) across, forming elongated clusters, in April to June. Fruits juicy, grape-like berries, about 5/8″ (1 cm) long, purplish-blue with a whitish bloom.  

Medicinal Purposes:
The most popular medicinal variety is Mahonia aquifolium. The root of Oregon Grape stimulates the liver and gallbladder, enhances digestion, and benefits the skin. 

 

burdock

Burdock #20

This humble, blessed herb is a power-house of detoxification. 

Where to Find:
Seek on disturbed sites. 

Basic Description:
In the first year of growth, Burdock stays lower to the ground and doesn’t flower. For the untrained eye, only a plant in its second year of growth will be easy to properly identify because of the easily distinguished thistle head flowers and the large leaves in combination. The leaves are typically heart-shaped, thinly white-wooly on the underside. Flowerheads are thistle-like, pink-purple, spiky, and may stick to your clothes if you brush up against it. 

Detailed Description:
Robust, biennial herbs with mostly heart-shaped leaves that are thinly white-wooly beneath. Flowerheads bur-like, with slender, tubular, pink to purplish florets above overlapping rows of hook-tipped involucral bracts, borne in branched clusters, in August to October. Fruits 3-5-sided, hairless seed-like achenes. 
The popular medicinal variety,
Arctium lappa, has open clusters of large (1-1 5/8″ [2.5-4 cm] wide), long-stalked flowerheads. 
B
urdock may be confused with common cocklebur, which is somewhat poisonous. 

Medicinal Purposes:
Artcium lappa is the popular medicinal variety. This powerful detoxification herb works on the bowels, liver, skin, lymphatic system, and kisses the kidneys as well (all of the eliminative systems/organs). A heal-all herb, but in some cases too strong. 

Animal Tracks Identification

Going out after a rain will make it easier to spot tracks. Going out in the morning might help as well, as many animals are active at night. Either a picture with the animal or the animal’s prints will suffice for the scavenger hunt.  

Squirrel #21

squirrel

Rabbit #22

Rabbit

Beaver #23

beaver

Bear #24

Deer #25

deer

Raccoon #26

raccoon

Coyote #27

Bird #28

bird

Mountain Lion / Bobcat #29

Mouse #30

mouse

Rock Hounds

This list is a complete beginners rock hounding experiential course. The following rocks and minerals are some of the easiest to identify in the natural world, but very few people could do so. It has been said by great healers, that there is no higher level of healing on the physical plane than from a master of crystals / gemstones. 

sandstone

Sandstone #31

Description:
Color: Varies greatly from white to grey, yellowish, or dark red. 
Texture: Normally gritty
Origin: Most commonly formed by accumulations in marine water, or as wind-blown deposits in arid continental areas. A finer-grained matrix binds grains of sand together over millions of years
Grain size: Medium

Where to find: 
-Beaches and coastlines
-Deserts
-Rivers and streams

More info: 
What we think of as “sand” is an accumulation of small mineral particles of varying minerals. The color of sandstone depends upon the cement (medium) that glues the sand grains together, as well as the overall color of the mineral grains (sand). Sandstone is used primarily in construction.

Metaphysics:
Sandstone is a creative stone harnessing ones creative side. It helps to build and strengthen the cohesiveness and solidarity within relationships. Sandstone also encourages truth and promotes clarity in thought and sight; it balances one’s reality and facilitates ease of movement and change.

 

Shale #32

Description:
Color: Black and grey are the most common, but can also be red, brown, yellow, or green
Texture: Dense, with particles the size of silt and clay. Shale is compact, hard and thin-bedded
Origin: Sediments in lake and ocean bottoms
Grain size: Very fine

Where to find:
-Lagoons, lakes, and swamps
-Rivers, streams, and basins (bowl-shaped depression)
-Continental shelves and deep ocean

More info: 
Commonly used in the production of cement, pottery, and other ceramic products (e.g. terra-cotta pots.) Black shales can break down to form natural gas or oil. 

Metaphysics:
Shale aids in emotional stability, personal growth, and the release of past traumas, promoting a sense of balance and resilience. 

 

granite

Granite #33

Description:
Color: Red, pink, grey, or white. Dark mineral grains visible throughout. 
Texture: Coarse, with rough texture 
Origin: Granite forms from the slow crystallization of magma below the Earth’s surface. 
Grain size: Coarse

Where to find:
-Mountainous regions
-Seek granite in areas with a history of quarrying granite
-Outcrops in mountainous regions (Outcrop = extruded rock / not covered in soil (e.g. a boulder/mountain face))
-Riverbeds / streams

More info:
Granite is composed mainly of quartz and feldspar with minor amounts of micas, amphiboles, and other minerals. 

Uses for granite include interior and exterior construction. It is resistant to abrasion and strong enough to bear significant weight. Granite also withstands weathering, and accepts brilliant polish. 

Metaphysics:
Granite enhances stability and endurance, aligning us with the Earth’s deep, stabilising energies. It supports physical strength, perseverance, and a balanced, practical approach to life’s challenges. 

Limestone #34

Description:
Color: Normally white to dark grey or black, occasionally red. (Darker colors are caused by organic materials, and yellow and brown colors result from iron oxides.) 
Texture: Appears as a dense rock with even, granular texture.
Origin: Varies
Grain size: Medium fine

Where to find: 
-Caves
-Stalactites, stalagmites and crystalline “sculptures” at hot springs/geysers are often limestone
-Coastal areas, mountainous areas, rivers, deserts

More info:
Limestone contains a minimum of 50% calcite (or aragonite).  The remainder consists of a variety of impurities, which may include grains of dolomite, quartz, clay, and others. When acidic water dissolves calcium carbonate from stones, the carried away calcium carbonate gathers in caves or other holding places and result in calcite formations called limestone. Limestone is used for roads, concrete, and cement. 

Metaphysics:
Limestone helps in enhancing healing and purification; and reminds us of the importance of keeping our wellness and balance.

 
basalt

Basalt #35

Description:
Color: Dark
Texture: Fine, with crystal-line structures too small to be distinguished with the unaided eye
Origin: Forms when magma erupts on the Earth’s surface with rapid cooling and hardening of the lava flows
Grain size: Very fine

Where to find:
-Volcanic regions
-Canadian Shield
-Igneous intrusions

More info: 
Basalt is one of the most widespread volcanic rocks on earth. It is also very rich on the moon. Basalt is used in road construction, concrete, asphalt, railroad ballast, and much more

Metaphysics:
Basalt helps individuals establish a stronger connection with the Earth, and promote feelings of stability and balance. It holds transformative qualities and symbolises the process of change and rebirth.  

 

slate

Slate #36

Description: 
Color: Normally light to dark grey, but also shades of green, red, purple, brown, or yellow
Texture: Fine-grained with characteristic perfect, slaty cleavage produced by the alignment of flaky minerals. This makes it easy to cut into parallel slabs. 
Origin: Forms when fine-grained sediments such as mudstones or shales are metamorphosized at low temperatures and low pressures. 
Grain size: Fine

Where to find:
-Mountainous regions
-Fault lines
-Volcanic regions

More info: 
Slate is shale or mudstone that has been hardened. It is used in construction for interior flooring, exterior paving, dimension stone and decorative aggregates

Metaphysics: 
Slate is a balancing stone and brings balance and harmony among the elements (earth, fire,air and water) . It can settle anxiety and balance the Chakra system resulting in total inner harmony.

quartz

Quartz #37

Description:
Color: Variable but translucent is very common; may be cloudy or milky. Violet crystals are referred to as amethysy; grey-black crystals are smoky quartz. Distinctions in color are caused by mineral impurities. 
Crystals: Commonly hexagonal prisms ending in six-sided pyramid

Where to find:
-Can be found in chunks of sandstone, granite, and many other types of stone
-Rocky outcrops
-Caves
-Old mine tailings
-Riverbeds
-Beaches

More info: 
Has many uses. The clear rock crystal is in great demand for electronic equipment, such as oscillators for controlling radio frequencies. Colored varieties are desirable in the gem trade

Metaphysics:
Quartz is a universal stone that heals; it aids in meditation, protection and channelling. Quartz is a harmoniser for the universe