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WILDCRAFTING
QUESTION:
Could you please tell me, when gathering various barks, for medicinal purposes, is it safe to assume that different varieties of the same tree will have the same properties?  i.e.. white willow bark vs. river willow bark?  Also, does it make a difference which part of the tree you remove the bark from?  I've read different theories such as shaving the base of the trunk, (ouch), or using small twigs and branches.  The later seems much kinder  to the tree.

ANSWER: For most cases, the best time to gather bark is when trimming branches from a tree, strip the bark from the cut branches not from the trunk of a tree, never ring a tree or it will probably kill the tree.

Yes, its important to know what species of tree to use.

Technically,  it is also important to know whether to harvest, spring, summer, fall or winter, when the tree is in bloom, in fruit, leafing or dropping leaves.  And, yes its important to know if you want, inner bark, outer bark, root bark, trunk or branch bark.

The final rule of Wild Crafting (harvesting what you need from the wild) is if you need it badly and don't have time to be ethical or technical, take what you need where you can find it.  But this mainly applies to emergency situations, not planned wild crafting such as you are suggesting.