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A short list of gifts for the land-lovers in your life. Bring a twinkle of delight to the eye of your favorite plant geek, and set them up to tend the world deeply in 2024.

photo: Katie Vincent

for the new gardener:


by Tilth Alliance

photo: Katie Vincent

for the herbalist:


by Juliet Blankespoor

a root slayer tool
photo: Home Depot

for the restoration junkie:


(it's the best for blackberries!)

photo: Katie Vincent

for the ethnobotany nerd:


by Leigh Joseph (Squamish)

land back

... or donate on their behalf to a land-back project like Sogorea Tea Land Trust or Canoe Journey Herbalists's many land projects.

for the budding designer:


by Erik Ohlsen

for the liberation warrior:


by Leah Penniman

for everyone:

best tool ever

and... a gift certificate for a Tending Alive offering!

Note: I do not get any commisions or benefit from recommending these books and products. This is just what I think is really cool and may support you + our local ecosystems.

A light skinned hand is outstretched over a foggy alpine lake, mirroring and pointing to  a rocky peninsula  jutting out in the distance from the right.

Everything is a lot right now, y’all. Tending Alive ​​is rooted in the ecological. I see this word used more often lately. I think this is a good time to clarify what I mean when I use it.

To me, ecological is not the same as “organic”. It is not ​perfect or morally superior​ way of relating to land.​ W​e cannot escape entangle​m​ent in system​s of resource extraction and power-over​. It has impact. If anything, ecological is choosing to stay with a whole lot of trouble*. To me, ecological is relational. It is owning and honoring my story as I also humble myself to the thousands of more-than-human stories unfolding around me. It is to be changed by these stories as I watch, receive, remember, and offer what I genuinely can in return. It is what Donna Haraway* calls “response-ability.” To design ​an ecological landscape, we begin by listening to the story of the land. A site analysis is one part, but we can’t forget to hollow our bodies and ​b​e ​a​vailable to hear the truth. Tell me: Who was and still is displaced from this land? What was taken from this place? What is the dream this place carries? To listen, we will need to slowly resensitize our bodies to ways of knowing beyond the mind. ​No matter how out-of-tune we’ve become​, ​w​e are an inextricable part of ecology​. We cannot step out of the web of relations. Technically, a pesticide-soaked monoculture and the center of a war zone are still ecological. ​​And still, there are undeniable ways our presence and action can lead to more flourishing and aliveness than others. Tending Alive’s work is oriented to the vision of all people stepping into their birthright as soulful, attuned land stewards. It can be painful to be attuned. I am ripped open ​w​itnessing the mass carnage and fear the Arab, Israeli, Jewish and Palestinian people (listed alphabetically) and beyond are experiencing right now. Maybe you are too. There is no separate ecology, no roots that do not thread to the soil of my own body. This is a humanitarian and ecological catastrophe. How do we act ecologically in times like this? I don’t know. Lately I’ve been asking myself, how would water flow through this landscape? Fellow bodies of water, it isn't ecological for me to tell you how to think, feel or respond​ right now. ​Ecologies are diverse and complex. Multiple truths exist at once. ​I trust your knowing. As in my consults, classes and more, I am here to walk with you as you remember your unique way of listening with the World and find your next ​life-giving step. So I ask: What does your rage, grief or numbness alchemize in you? What do your dreams evoke? Which thoughts haunt you? What voices are changing you? How could you listen even wider? How does your watershed feed this? What do the past and future ancestors ask of you? Does the land you live on have any advice? Maybe you will lean in. Listen. Call your representatives over and over. Speak your truth. Grieve. Call for a Ceasefire. Go silent. Go to a religious service. Join a rally or march or blockade. Write. Boycott. Send funds. Call a prayer circle. Do magic. Do nothing. Fundraise. Read and learn. Make art. Raise awareness. Plant in your garden. Listen some more. Sing. Rage. Initiate repair. Offer healing to your people. Unravel layers of Antisemitism and Islamophobia. Talk to people in real life. Check on your friends. Snuggle. Maybe you will rest. Whatever you do, may it be from your ​embodied truth, and may it be for Life. If you want to know what I’m doing, please ask me. I may share more openly about what I’m up to, but ​f​or now I want to encourage you (and me) to l​isten from within. Stay with the trouble, friends. Resist the seduction of simplification. Remember each others’ humanity. Track supremacy. ​Be mad. Be soft. Find joy. Keep going, and keep listening. ​P​S. We are a wide web of listening humans. I’d love to share resources. Who are you listening to? Whose voices are changing or even challenging you? Please, post or tag them below.

* The concepts of "staying with the trouble" and "response-ability" are directly from Donna Haraway's book, Staying with the Trouble. I cannot recommend this book enough.

photo credit: Katie Vincent

Plant identification (or recognition) is not a hobby, but a set of essential skills for everyone's survival and thrive-al. A way of breathing and becoming storied with place—of seeing and being seen. A birthright. They are relational skills that extractive Capitalism does not want us to have, as paying exquisite attention is one of the biggest doorways into a closer relationship with the natural world—dangerous to a culture of domination.

As herbalists, foragers, gardeners, farmers, restoration ecologists, eaters, and just plain ol' humans in this time, I encourage us all (including myself) to stretch our edges of what we think we know to actually see the patterns in the plant world around us. The more we notice and language we have to express what we see, the more we can become skillful and active participants in the ecologies surrounding us. But we have to know who's here first.

I'm offering this Botanical Intimacy Series as an encouragement in this practice. Take your time, go slowly, and see what patterns you notice. Perhaps you'll discover one of these plants in your neighborhood and get to learn from them yourself!

This week's Botanical Intimacy Series: How to Identify Linden Trees

The Basics

Latin Names:

  • Tilia americana

  • Tilia cordifolia

  • Tilia japonica

  • Tilia tomentosa

  • ...and 25+ more!

Common Names:

Linden (English), basswood (American), Linde (German), lime (Britain), tilo (Spanish), ıhlamur (Turkish), tilleul (French), panashuk/pishannuk (Choctaw), vhahwv (Creek), липа (Russian), lehmus (Finnish), lipa (Croatia), and more.


Malvaceae, and in the sub-family Tilioideae.

Native Range:

T. americana - Southeastern N America

T. cordifolia - Europe, Middle East, NE Asia

T. japonica - China, Japan

T. tomentosa - SE Europe, SW Asia

Leaf & Stem:


  • Simple (no lobes)

  • Heart-shaped (cordate)

  • Saw-toothed edge (serrated margin)

  • Uneven/asymmetrical at the base (oblique)

  • Glossy on top, smooth underneath except tufts of hairs in leaf axils


  • leaves alternate on the stem (alternate)

Flower & Seed:

overall form:

Inflorescence is called a "cyme." It has a main trunk (peduncle) that is partly fused to a bright leaf-like bract that acts like a maple samara for seed dispersal. Below, it branches into multiple flower stalks (pedicels). Linden cymes are compound and grow from where leaf meets stem (axillary leaf node).

petals: 4-5, white to yellowish, oval to lanceolate, with tiny notches many, in some species grouped in 5 bunches

stamens (pollen bits):

many, in some species grouped in 5 bunches

pistil (egg bits): 1 style (tube to ovary), 5-lobed stigma

Bark & Overall:

bark: Greyish brown, ridged & furrowed. Young tree bark is lighter grey in color with more shallow furrows. Varies by species.

growth habit: Pyramidal shape, ranging from 30-80' tall

conditions: Prefer moist yet well-draining soil, neutral to slightly alkaline. Full to partial sun.

Comparison: Little-leaf Linden (Tilia cordata) vs. American Basswood (Tilia Americana)

Little-leaf Linden

Tilia cordata Leaves: 1.5 - 3" wide and long. Margin is more finely serrated.

Flowers: 4-16 per cyme

Bark: Can have orange undertones, more shallow furrows

Shape: More upright as they mature, 60-70 ft tall

American Basswood Tilia americana Leaves: 3.5 - 6" wide and long. Margin is more roughly serrated.

Flowers: 6-16 per cyme, cyme slightly larger than T. cordata

Bark: Can have deeper furrows

Shape: More ovate as they mature, 60-80' tall

Other Neat Things:
wildlife: Very attractive to honeybees and other pollinators—the fragrant blooming trees are loudly abuzz! T. americana is known to attract lightning bugs. Seeds are food for birds and small mammals like squirrels.
wood: Also known as basswood, the wood of linden is known to be light, soft and easy for carving. Coppices well. The inner bark has long traditional use as a fiber for weaving baskets, nets, mats and more.
food: Young linden leaves are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked. Slight mucilage texture. One of only a few trees with edible leaves!
...and they're very medicinal. (Why else identify them?! :) See my Instagram post for more.)

References: Beyer, Rebecca. "The Folkloric Uses of Wood Part VIII Basswood." 2016. - Byington, Cyrus. A Dictionary of the Choctaw Language. Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 46. George,Benjamin. "PSC 2620" Utah State University -
Henriette’s Herbal -
Hutton, Kimberly. "A Comparative Study of the Plants Used for Medicinal Purposes by the Creek and Seminoles Tribes." 2010.
NC State Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox -

Thanks for reading. Let me know if you recognize the linden trees growing around you!
I also welcome any feedback or any linden identification patterns you want to share with our community of greening thumbs. Plant intimacy is a communal effort.

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