Picking wild flowers, fruits, berries, mushrooms, herbs and other wild plants for culinary purposes is a very enjoyable leisure time activity. But it requires that you are absolutely sure you know about the plants you want to use. "Could be" or "looks like" is not enough.
You must know exactly what you are picking, because many wild plants and plant parts are poisonous.
So, if you are not sure, you should either leave the plant alone - or use a local flora or plant identification manual to find out.
Pick your plants or plant parts early in the day or before the sun gets too hot.
That's when they have the highest content of essential oils and other active constituents.
According to many biodynamicists the phase of the moon also plays a role for when to pick.
I don't know if this is true - but I know that some of the world's most recognized wine growers prune and harvest only around new moon.
Get the most out of your plants
To get the most out of your plants or plant parts, here are some general guidelines for when to pick:
Pick only from healthy plants, and only what you need here and now - not for storage. Fresh plants taste better than stored ones.
Don't pick in polluted or sprayed areas such as roadsides, fields, fruit orchards, etc. Plants from such places are unhealthy and they will ruin the taste and flavours of your schnapps.
Keep your plant material in paper or cotton bags or cardboard boxes till you get home. Never plastic bags - they spoil the plant flavours.
If you cannot use your fresh plant parts right away you can wrap them in a wet towel and keep them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Do not pick plants or plant parts if they belong to endangered or rare species.
Only uproot plants if you want to use their underground parts. And only if these plants are common, widespread and abundant.
When picking you should remember to leave enough foods - fruits, berries, nuts, flowers, etc. - for the wild animals, birds and bees.
Take only a few leaves from each plant according to its size. If you take all the leaves the plant will not survive.
Do not take all the flowers or seeds from annual plants. They are needed to produce a new generation.