Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What I call "tar weed", and other aromatic plants.

Both, Joe Erwin and Naoma Holley steered me to these plant identifications. Thank-you!

I'm going to do some more posts on smelly plants the grow in the EelRiver valley. I'll atart with this one. This is what I always called "tar weed". But I know that's wrong because the newcomers told me it was.

Tar Weed or Vinegar Weed

Trichostema lanceolatum
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Trichostema lanceolatum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Subfamily: Teucrioideae
Genus: Trichostema
Species: T. lanceolatum
Binomial name
Trichostema lanceolatum Benth.

The annual herb of the mint family Trichostema lanceolatum is commonly known as vinegar weed because its foliage contains volatile oils that have a strong vinegar odor. Other common names for the plant include terpentine weed and camphor weed. The oils also have phytotoxic properties, which help vinegar weed compete by killing or injuring other plant species. Indians of northern California used the plant as a cold and fever remedy, a pain reliever, and a flea repellent.

Vinegar weed is a wildflower bearing striking purple-blue flowers on short green stems. The numerous leaves are juicy and green and are covered in fluffy hairs. The plant is well adapted to its native range in California, where it thrives in dry, nutrient-poor, sun-baked clay soil. In hot weather the vinegar smell of the plant becomes intense as the oils in the tissues permeate the air. The plants of this genus are sometimes called blue curls, but this name may be more associated with the similar, but sweeter smelling, species Trichostema lanatum. Vinegar weed is found on the west coast of North America from northern Mexico to southern

Yerba Santa. Eriodictyon glutinosum

Other Names: tar weed, Yerba Santa, mountain balm, Consumptive’s weed, bear’s weed, gum plant.

Elements Applied: Leaves are commonly applied in herbal medicine.

Used for: The plant is valued for its scent. Additionally it’s used to promote expectoration.

The plant’s conventional application is for catarrhal pulmonary diseases, asthma, recurrent bronchitis, and laryngitis. Quite popular for cold-in-the-head and nasal congestion. Additionally applied for rheumatism. The herb is used topically to heal bruises, sprains, insect bites, and sores.

Safety: There is no data concerning the plant’s safety level. It is possible that the plant interact with a chemical remedy you use. Speak to your health-care provider before using the plant.

Related Terms:
Consumptive's weed, bear's weed, eriodictyol, Eriodictyon californicum, Eriodictyon glutinosum, gum bush, holy herb, mountain balm, sacred herb, tarweed, Wigandia californicum.

Brand name products: American Indian Baby Smudge Bundles Clarity (Yerba Santa) from Ancient Aromas, Flower Essence FES North American Flower Essences Yerba Santa ¼ Oz from FES Quintessentials, HerbPharm Yerba Santa 1 Oz from HerbPharm, Mouth Kote from Parnell Pharmaceuticals, Turtle Island Yerba Santa Leaf from Turtle Island, Yerba Santa 1 Oz from Nature's Apothecary, Yerba Santa Botanical from Viable Herbal Solutions, Yerba Santa liquid Extract from Eclectic Institute.

Note: Not to be confused with other herbs which share the same common name(s). For example, the common name "mountain balm" is also used for Ceanothus velutinus, Satureja chandleri, and Calamintha nepeta. The common name "consumptive's weed" is associated with three different Eriodictyon species. The common name "gum bush" is also associated with several different Eriodictyon species. The common name "bear's weed" is also used for Arctostaphylos uva-ursi. The common name "tarweed" is associated with many species of Hemizonia and Madia. The common name "holy herb" is used for marijuana (Cannabis sativa), hyssop (Sorghum vulgare), basil (Ocimum basilicum), verbena (Verbena officinalis) and aloe (Aloe barbadensis). The common name "sacred herb" is used for marijuana and tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum).

Chumash Indians and other California Indians have used Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon californicum) and other related species (Eriodictyon crassifolium, Eriodictyon trichocalyx) for many centuries in the treatment of pulmonary conditions, saliva production, and to stop bleeding of minor cuts and scrapes. In the United States and Britain, Eriodictyon californicum was formally used for conditions including influenza, bacterial pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis, and tuberculosis starting in the late 1800s until the 1960s (when drug regulations became more stringent around proof of efficacy). Subsequently, the extracts remained on the GRAS ("Generally Regarded as Safe") as a flavor for foods, beers, and pharmaceuticals (such as to hide the bitterness of quinine). Eriodictyon plant extracts have also been used in cosmetics.

Eriodictyon species contain flavones with free radical scavenging (antioxidant) properties, and have therefore been proposed as being beneficial for a number of health conditions. However, there is little scientific study of Eriodictyon californicum in humans, and efficacy has not been demonstrated for any specific condition.

Watch video on yerba santa by clicking the arrow below:

Yerba Buena

Yerba buena (Clinopodium douglasii) is a rambling aromatic herb of western and northwestern North America, ranging from maritime Alaska southwards to Baja California Sur.[1] The plant takes the form of a sprawling, mat-forming perennial, and is especially abundant close to the coast.

The specific plant species regarded as "yerba buena" varies from region to region, depending on what grows wild in the surrounding landscape, or which species is customarily grown in local gardens. Perhaps the most common variation of this plant (besides Clinopodium douglasii) is spearmint (Mentha spicata).

In parts of Central America yerba buena often refers to Mentha citrata, a true mint sometimes called "bergamot mint" with a strong citrus-like aroma that is used medicinally and as a cooking herb and tea. In Cuba, yerba buena generally refers to Mentha nemorosa, a popular plant also known as large apple mint, foxtail mint, hairy mint, woolly mint or, simply, Cuban mint. In Puerto Rico a close relative of traditional culinary savory, Satureja viminea, is sometimes used. In Peru the name is sometimes applied to a shrubby aromatic marigold, Tagetes minuta also known as huacatay or "black mint"; in this case, despite some similarities of flavor, the herb in question is in the Sunflower family and is quite unrelated to any of the mints or mint-relatives with which it shares a name.

Penny Royal (Mentha pulegium) Toxic! My warning, Ernie

Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) is a plant in the mint genus, within the family Lamiaceae. Crushed Pennyroyal leaves exhibit a very strong fragrance similar to spearmint. Pennyroyal is a traditional culinary herb, folk remedy, and abortifacient. The essential oil of pennyroyal is used in aromatherapy, and is also high in pulegone, a highly toxic volatile organic compound affecting liver and uterine function.
Note: an abortifacient means that it kills unborn children. The Indian people of the north coast routinely used it to abort unwanted pregnancies.
The drawing isn't a very good depiction, I can get a picture tomorrow and add it here.
As an easily-made poison, pennyroyal has had a long historical use. Early settlers in colonial Virginia used dried pennyroyal to eradicate pests. So popular was pennyroyal, that the Royal Society published an article on its use against rattlesnakes in the first volume of its Philosophical Transactions (1665)

Pennyroyal tea is the use of an infusion made from the herb, the infusion is widely reputed as safe to ingest in restricted quantities. It has been traditionally employed and reportedly successful as an emmenagogue (menstrual flow stimulant) or as an abortifacient. In 1994 a young woman died from an undetected ectopic pregnancy while performing a self-induced abortion using pennyroyal tea; reports say that she had consumed the tea for longer than the recommended five days. The most popular current use of the tea is to settle the stomach. (don't trust it! Ernie)  Other reported medicinal uses through history include treatment for fainting, flatulence, gall ailments, gout, and hepatitis (presumably Hepatitis A), and as a lung cleanser, a gum strengthener and, when ground with vinegar, a tumor remedy.

I'm sorry! I got this information from so many places that I couldn't keep the attributions in order, and I didn't want to look them up again. As long as nobody sells this article, we should be okay. Otherwise bring me chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookies in jail!


Joseph said...

We always called the plant you showed vinegar weed. Look up Yerba Santa, consumptive's weed, and Eriodictyon californicum. You will find pictures that match my memories of Mountain Balm. I could describe the location of one large patch using a map--maybe could even find GPS coordinates....

Naoma said...

Hi...look up Yerba Santa....Consumptives weed....Enodeclyon glutinosum.

Naoma said...

Yes, Joe is right. I looked it up on Google about a week ago. Bruce and
I would sit out on the porch at the cabin and "legally" smoke the leaves.
"cough, need some mountain Balm" and felt "grown up" .
I never did "smoke" other things. The Yerba Buena was nice. The only
thing I have found in this area close to it is called "ground Ivy" it is
high in Vit. C and of the

Naoma said...

I looked it up on is under Yerba Santa...and like you said
Consumptive Weed. It was fun to sit on the porch of the cabin and
pretend we were "smoking" ....we'd tell mom "cough. cough, and it would
be legal! LOL... I never did smoke other things. Oh , thanks for the
complement, I will treasure it in my old age!! I don't have a quarter!!
Yes, Gram and your mom made some good tea for us. The closest to the
taste of anything here is Ground is high in vit. C too. I have
tried to transplant some from the Chattanooga area up here on Sand Mt.
but it didn't live. I found on Google a nursery that had native
California plants and maybe I can get a start of the Yerba Buena. I am
going to try to figure out how to be on Ernie's blog. The people on it
sound so knowledgeable and I am enjoying the conversations. Thanks to
each of them for the comments. Naoma

Ernie Branscomb said...

I'm sorry if the comments, and this post, seems somewhat disjointed. I pasted the whole thing up from other information. I hope that I didn't make Joe and Naoma look foolish. The clumsiness was ALL mine. There is so much good information here that I just wanted to get everything posted. Sorry!

Ernie Branscomb said...

Olmanriver found this reference to the Fremds.

Hey Joe, I was researching away today and found a Times newspaper mention of the Fremds from 3/2/1906:
"George Fremd of Harris arrived in town last evening from the mattole secion with a band of Angora goats. There were 16 of them and they were beauties of the goat family. Mr. Fremd was taking them to a ranch on the main Eel."

oldmanriver said...

"When rolled up into wads and dried in the shade the leaves are most valued for chewing. The taste is peculiar, being rather disagreeably resinous and bitter at first. This taste soon disappears and gives place to a sweet and cooling sensation, which is especially noticeable when one ceases to chew for a minute or drinks a glass of water. As one Indian expressed it, 'It makes one taste kind of sweety inside'.
The bitter taste of the extract is obviated by boiling the leaves with sugar." page 382 V.K. Chestnut's Plants used by the Indians of Mendocino County California.

Ben said...

Ernie... We use Yerba Santa as a tea brewed with Oregon Grape root. The tea is brewed then cooled in the fridge before drinking. Good for stomach problems as well as lungs. The Oregon Grape has berberine and is yellow under the bark. This is a remedy learned from the Klamath River Indians. They use Yerba Buena by picking a bunch and twisting the stands into a wreath which is then dried. The dried wreath is boiled for a long time to make a tea that is "good for the nerves". We also use it. There is another low lying little vine that can be confused with Yerba Santa but the smell makes finding the real thing easy.
My stock raiser friends tell me Pennyroyal (not a native) is bad for livestock.
Let's see, what else is there. My wife, Tui, calls Vinegar Weed (Blue Curls) "Romero". Also the name for Rosemary in Spanish.

Ernie Branscomb said...

The following is clipped from personal correspondence between Naoma and Joseph. Naoma asked me if I would post it here. I also posted it back with the mountain lion stories, but this was so good that I didn't want anbody to miss it!

Did I ever tell you about the time dad, mom, bruce and I were headed up to the ranch on the old 101 highway???? some where along the Eel the road had had a big slide. We had to stop for the one way traffic...and as we were waiting dad told us to look up onto the big rocks of the hill. There overlooking the activity was a big cougar. Paws under its head, lying {there} just looking and watching. As the flagman gave us the go ahead to move the car forward dad stopped to talk him...and showed him the cougar. The fellow told dad, that the cougar came every day and just watched the men working...always lying in the same spot. Dad asked if it made the men "leery" ...He told dad that they just figured the animal was "just curious" and rather enjoyed watching them work. That was the only time I had seen a cougar in the wild. When our family first came to the "Circle E'" Mom and dad were looking for a place to put our cabin. We were up where Your dad and Mom built your house...the land was buildings. We were under that great big old oak that was in your yard and I kept saying "mama, Kitty, Kitty" They said..there are no kitties there, but I kept insisting there was a "kitty". As I look back over the years I do believe there was a young panther stretched out on that big limb of the oak tree, Any & mom set up our tent with the cots in it and for air circulation left both flaps open..front and back. There was a walk space between Bruce's cot and mine. Mother and dad's cots were at the front of the tent with the same spacing. In the morning mother told as that during the night a cougar came in the front opening, walked between the cots, and as she held her breath&prayed it just walked out the back of the tent. I was about two years old I guess.

Idaho said...

Wow, great cat stories Naoma!

olmanriver said...

I am still not sure about which plant is tarweed. Maybe a local poet can help us with our tarweed identification...

Margaret S. Cobb Smith was a poet and painter who taught school all over northern Mendocino county. The daughter of Chilean royalty and one of the first settlers of Long Valley, William Smith, Margaret married Mr. Oliver Cobb who ranched beside the SF Eel by Sproul Creek. They married in 1904, and the property was left to her at the time of his passing in 1914.
The Cobbs hosted Jack London's 1911 visit when he toured up the coast with his wife Charmian, driving a four horse team. He wrote an account of this vacation expedition for Sunset Magazine. Andrew Genzoli wrote in the Redwood Country: "The Cobbs proved to be such good company that Charmian called them 'our people'. She tried her hand at fishing and caught up on correspondence while Jack set about writing his lasst Post story, 'The Feathers of the Sun', a rollicking comedy about a desreputable beachcomber with royal pretensions. Here was a South Seas version of Kipling's 'The Man who Would Be King,'..."

Margaret also had George Sterling as a close friend, and corresponded with Ambrose Bierce. She did get poems published, and was a good painter, but the work she is most known for was Blaxine, a story of mixed white and Indian families and a rare novelized glimpsed into what it was to be a half-breed. The poet Joaquim Miller touted the book highly. Lynette sagaciously sussed out that this was modeled on the AE Sherwood family situation of Sherwood valley, which I was able to confirm through an online reference to a teacher who had taught the Sherwood kids in Sherwood, and Margaret Smith in Long Valley. As this is Lynette's bailiwick I shant say to much here.
(her poem about tarweed in part 2)

olmanriver said...

Long Valley by Margaret S. Cobb

"We passed through Long Valley in September,
Facing its first gleam of level at Farley Creek,
Then from the little uplift at the old Talkington place,
The valley before us in a glory of browns, tans, and saffrons,
That dimmed and faded in the distance of mauves and gray.
It was late evening. the guarding prescence of old Farley Peak
Lifted itself against the sky in pale opaque blueness.
Cow Mountain and the Cahto hills lay black against the west,
Against a wash of pale green western sky, and across this sky
Floated thin lines of brilliant crimson clouds.
Yet so transient this cloud beauty that even while we watched,
And ere we reached the old Leonard place,
It had faded to a gray lavender and lay against
A paling sky.
And now the tar weed, sweet vagrant of the valley,
Useless, unloved, but offering its golden discs by millions
To waste places, filled the air with its poignant tang,
Bringing back childhood with a pang of pain--
Old dreams of childhood lived in this lovely valley.
Fences now lay as purple lines across the fields,
Straw from the threshing lay as beaten gold,
Willows become as gray and olive dreams against the low red hills, Unkempt old orchards glowed, painted with scarlet apples'
Pines lifted their delicately lined contours, oaks were purple massed,
Then came the friendly Lights of Laytonville,
And blue night settled broad and vast o'er all,
Only the tarweed, vagrant, unloved weed,
Still told of fields widespread beneath the night."