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California Native Medicinal Plants

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Botanical NameCommon NameTypeMedicinal Use
Achillea millefolium Yarrow perennial For acute fevers, hemostatic, anti-inflammatory.
Actea rubra Baneberry perennial Root is anti-inflammatory, vasodialator, antispasmodic and sedative. Berries are very toxic.
Aesculus californica California Buckeye tree Strengthens capillaries and treats edema for chronic congestion. Care is needed for proper dosage.
Angelica hendersonii Angelica perennial Seeds for acid indegestion, nausea.
Aralia californica California Spikenard perennial Lung tonic, antimicrobial and antifungal.
Arbutus menziesii Madrone tree Astringent, bladder infections, sitz bath for postpartum mothers, yeast infections.
Arctostaphylos spp. Manzanita shrub Tannins, lowers pH of urine, moderates blood sugar levels.
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Uva Ursishrub Cystitis and urethritis, sitz bath after birthing.
Artemesia californica California Mugwort perennial Tea is antifungal and antimicrobial, a variety of first aid purposes.
Asarum caudatum Wild Ginger perennial Induces sweat, secretion.
Berberis aquifolium, B.nervosa, B.repens, B.pinnata Oregon Grape shrub Bitter tonic, stimulant to liver and skin protein metabolism, anti microbial for the skin and intestinal tract.
Ceanothus cuneatus, C.velutinus, C.integerrimus Red Root shrub Astringent to membranes, good gargle and mouthwash for sore throat.
Chlorogalum pomeridianum Amole Lily, Soap Plant perennial Hair treatment, shampoo.
Crataegus douglasii Hawthorn shrub Heart tonic.
Dicentra formosa Bleeding Heart perennial Narcotic-analgesic for pain and central nervous disorders.
Epipactis gigantea Stream Orchid perennial Mood-elevating antisposmodic and sedative. PMS.
Eriodictyon californicum Yerba Santa perennial Decongestant, lungs and sinuses, a general cold and allergy tea.
Eriogonum spp. Buckwheat Bush shrub Phosphorous concentrator, soothes inflamed membranes, eyewash.
Eschscholzia californica California Poppy perennial Antianxiety, sedative, analgesic.
Frankenia salina Yerba Reuma perennial Astringent, antimicrobial, wash for skin irritations.
Garrya spp. Silk Tassel shrub Smooth muscle relazer, sedative to central nervous system, stomach cramps, anticholinergic without secretory supression (dry mouth).
Gaultheria shallon Salal shrub Astringent, anti-inflammatory, colic in children, pain reliever for scrapes, abrasions and burns.
Heuchera micrantha Alumn Root perennial Astringent, tannins, mouthwash for sore gums and throat.
Lepechinia calycina Pitcher Sage shrub Uterine tonic, antioxidant, sunscreen.
Mentha arvensis Brook Mint perennial Menthol, stomach distress, diaphoretic.
Myrica californica Pacific Wax Myrtle shrub Tincture for inflamed gums, vasodialator, shrinks membranes, sore throats.
Osmorhiza occidentalis Sweet Root perennial Antifungal.
Pedicularis densiflora Indian Warrior, Betony perennial Skeletal muscle relaxant, for adrenalin-stressed muscles.
Romneya coulteri Matilija Poppy perennial External skin wash, antimicrobial.
Salvia apiana White Sage shrub Diterpenes for staph and candida and Klebsiella pneumoniae.
Salvia spathacea Hummingbird Sage perennial Decongestant, expectorant, mild anti-microbial, delicious tea.
Sambucus mexicana Blue Elderberry shrub Create a tincture for use at the onset of cold and flu symptoms.
Satureja douglasii Yerba Buena perennial Diaphoretic for mild fevers, skin wash for rashes, nice tea.
Scrophularia californica Figwort perennial Anti-inflammatory for skin and mucosa, tonic for arthritis, bruises, stings.
Sequoia sempervirens Redwood tree Tea is a remedy for recovery from lung infections.
Smilacina racemosa False Solomon's Seal perennial Sore throat, respiratory excitability.
Thuja plicata Red Cedar tree Antifungal, antibacterial, smooth muscle stimulant.
Trillium ovatum Trillium perennial Uterine bleeding.
Umbellularia californica California Bay tree Antimicrobial skin wash, antifungal athlete's foot, smelling salt, careful of nose bleeds.
Vaccinium spp. Huckleberry, Blueberry shrub Lowers pH of urine, moderates blood sugar levels.
Vancouveria hexandra Inside-Out Flower perennial Sinus congestion, chronic rhinitis, hay fever.

Prepared by Chris Dye
Updated by Anya Crane in 2017

Healing Plant Recipes
Using Native Plants

Provided By Kami McBride of the Living Awareness Institute

Blue Elderberry
Sambucus mexicana

Harvest the blue elderberries when they are plump and ripe. Make the brandy with the fresh berries.

Elderberry Brandy
2 cups brandy
1 cup fresh blue elderberries

Put brandy and berries in a glass Mason jar. Put the lid on and store in a cool, dry place. After one month use cotton muslin cloth and a funnel to strain the berries from the brandy. Discard the berries into the compost pile and the remaining liquid is your elderberry brandy. Store it in a clean glass jar. Shelf life of the elderberry brandy is about two years. Take 2 tablespoons three times a day at the onset of cold and flu symptoms.

California Mugwort
Artemesia douglasia/californica/vulgaris

Harvest the fresh leaves from March through June

Mugwort Massage Oil
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped mugwort leaf

Chop mugwort finely and put oil and mugwort into a sterilized glass jar. Store in a cool, dry place for one month. While the mugwort is infusing into the oil it is very important that the plant not pop up above the oil because it can mold. You have to check your jar regularly to make sure the plant is completely covered with oil. Sometimes you have to add more oil. Let sit for one month and then strain out the plant. Discard the plant material and store the oil in a cool, dark place. Shelf life of the oil is about one year. This is a terrific massage oil for sore joints, an achy back or belly oil for menstrual cramps.

Dig up a piece of ceanothus root in the fall. Using your best clippers, chop it into small pieces immediately. When it dries, it turns rock hard.

Red Root Tincture
1 cup 100 proof vodka
3/4 cup fresh chopped red root

Put vodka and chopped ceanothus root into a clean Mason jar and store in a cool, dry place. After one month, use a funnel lined with cotton muslin cloth and strain the roots from the vodka. Discard the roots into the compost pile and the remaining liquid is your red root tincture. The shelf life of this tincture is about 3 years depending on how you store it. Take 30 drops up to 4 times a day at the onset of colds, flu and sore throats.

Achillea millefolium

Harvest fresh yarrow leaves and/or flowers. Use them fresh or dried for making tea.

Yarrow Tea
2 cups water
2 tablespoons yarrow

Put water and yarrow into a pot with a lid on. Bring it to a boil and then turn off the heat. Let the tea continue to steep for another hour. Strain out the herbs and then re-heat the tea. Drink 1 to 4 cups of warm tea a day for colds, flu, urinary tract infections and heavy menstruation. You can also apply yarrow tea topically to scrapes and cuts to prevent infection.

Yerba Santa
Eriodictyon californicum

Harvest the medium sized green yerba santa leaf and use it fresh to make your yerba santa syrup.

Yerba Santa Syrup
2 cups water
1 cup fresh yerba santa leaf

Simmer water and leaf on the lowest heat in a pot without a lid on. When the water has slowly cooked down to one cup, strain the yerba santa out. You now have one cup of a very strong yerba santa tea that nobody I know will drink. So what you do is add 3/4 cup honey and make a syrup. Stir the honey in well and store in the refrigerator. Shelf life in the fridge is about 3 months. Take 3 to 5 tablespoons a day for coughs that have lots of phlegm and mucus. This syrup is not good for hot, dry coughs.

Recommended Books:
Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West by Gregory Tilford
Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West by Michael Moore
Edible and Useful Plants of California by Charlotte Clarke
These books are available at the shop at Yerba Buena Nursery:
Living Wild: Gardening, Cooking and Healing with Native Plants of California by Alicia Funk and Karin Kaufman
California Foraging by Judith Larner Lowry

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12511 San Mateo Road (Highway 92)
Half Moon Bay, CA

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Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

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