Monday, June 30, 2008

Yerba mansa at Peterson Reservoir in Ash Meadows

The Peterson Reservoir in the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife viewing area. The sand dunes are a good place for viewing birds. Interesting plants can be found in that area along the trail, in the sand and near the water, such as the medicinal plant Yerba mansa of the Saururaceae family. The picture, taken on June 21, shows a maturing plant developing yellowish orange stains at some of their white, petal-like bracts. Yerba mansa plants are useful in many ways [1]:
Tea made of the leaves was used for purifying blood; a poultice for cuts and bruises; and bruised leaves reduced swellings, dysentery, asthma. The tea was also used for colds and to help movement of urine in kidney ailments. An infusion of the rootstocks was used for various skin troubles. The leaves boiled in a quantity of water were used as a bath for muscular pains and for sore feet. Dried roots, roasted and browned, were made into a decoction used for colds and for stomach ache.
[1] Muriel Sweet: “Common Edible and useful Plants of the West.” Naturegraph, Happy Camp, California, 2005 printing; page 61.

Still more about Yerba mansa:
Yerba mansa is also known as Anemopsis californica and under the common name lizard tail. The Spanish name,
Yerba mansa, means “domesticated herb.” Indigenous people of the Southwest and Mexico used the plant as medicine.

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