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Moosa Creek Blog
MAR
1

Medicinal Native Plants

Creekside Chat

 Medicinal Native Plants

by Diane Kennedy

California native plants are known for their drought tolerance, beauty and habitat value. Historically, they have also been useful to humans in many varied ways. Much of that knowledge has been preserved by our local tribes, and in response to a growing hunger for this wisdom our native collaborators will share their knowledge to an appreciative audience.  Moosa Creek Nursery will be hosting an event March 16th to highlight traditional and contemporary uses of native plants. Native collaborators, including local educators Rose Ramirez, Deborah Small and Abe Sanchez, will lead the event. In their beautifully designed book, the Ethnobotany Project, Deborah Small and Rose Ramirez highlight the uses of select natives. Here are some of those plants, as well as others that have been used medicinally.

Desert Century Agave is a beautiful succulent with sharp leaf tips that is often used as an effective barrier. Juice from the leaves helps heal bruises, and taken internally relieves constipation and indigestion.

Bladderpod is a lovely gray-leafed plant with pretty yellow flowers, large green edible pods and a strong scent. The leaves have antimicrobial properties and can be used on wounds.

Creosote Bush, or greasewood, is a yellow-blooming shrub ubiquitous throughout dry areas. Its funnel shape allows rainwater and leaves to collect underneath creating fertility and habitat. It has wide uses, particularly as a pain killer. Its antimicrobial properties help to heal cuts and bacterial or fungal infections.

Elderberry is a small tree that enjoys water near its roots. A tincture of its edible white flowerheads makes a soothing, sweat-inducing tea for fevers.

Jojoba is a small tree that produces a very oily edible nut that is used extensively as a topical treatment of skin issues.

Manzanita ‘Uva-ursi’ , also called the fun names of Bearberry or Kinnikinnik, is a low-growing shrub. The leaves and bark have been widely used for urinary and bladder issues and as a substitute antibiotic.

White Sage has deep roots in Native American traditions and is best known for ‘smudging’, or using leaf smoke ceremonially and for cleansing the air. Soaking leaves in rainwater makes a refreshing hair rinse.

Yarrow  is a beautiful flowering perennial that’s been used as a cure for many ills, including preventing baldness! Mostly it’s applied to wounds and sore gums as a pain reliever.

Yerba Mansa  is a low growing wetlands plant. An infusion made from the root is used as a liniment for wounds or bruises. The leaves can be applied as a poultice to relieve swellings.

Please be sensitive to our habitat. We do not encourage wild gathering of native plants for medicinal or edible use!

Caution: this information is not intended to advise, prescribe, or replace the advice from a doctor of medicine.

Diane and Miranda Kennedy operate Finch Frolic Garden Permaculture at www.vegetariat.com.

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