Before consuming wild plants, contact your doctor to make sure it is safe, and make positive identification in the field using a good source such as Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West. Michael Moore’s books contain an excellent glossary of medical terms, as well as maps. )
Common Name: Cachana, Blazing Star, Gayfeather, Rattlesnake Master
Latin Name: Liatris punctata
Appearance and Habitat: The erect, unbranched stems of this perennial may be solitarybut are usually in clusters, 1-2 ft. tall.Several stems bear narrow, crowded heads with rose-lavender flowers arranged in slender wands. Numerous narrow leaves are crowded along the stem as they intermingle with the tufted flowers. Disk flowers crowd together to form a lavender spike encompassing the top third or half of the stem. Rayless heads of purple flowers and slender, often plume-like bristles on the fruits generally identify this complex genus of the East that barely extends into the West. The species name punctata means dotted and refers to the speckled leaves. A perennial. (1) Dry plains and prairies – Eastern N. America – Alberta to New Mexico and Texas, east to Minnesota and Nebraska. A perennial growing to 0.6 m (2ft). It is hardy to zone 3. It is in flower from Aug to September, and the seeds ripen in October. (2) Eastern Wyoming and Colorado, central and northern New Mexico, in the Texas panhandle, and into the plain states from 2,000 to 7,500 feet in altitude. Generally it is found along hillsides and road cuts. The leaves are long and slightly rough. They are crowded along the stem and into the lower flowers. The flower stalks can number up to 15 from a single plant. The flower color ranges from violet pink to bluish purple. The flowers are replaced later in the season with seed puffs similar to Dandelion. The root is brown and nodular, with the appearance of a lumpy carrot. The inner pith is dark gray. (3)
Edible Uses: Root – raw or cooked. A sweet flavour when harvested in the spring and baked. Eating the root is said to improve the appetite. (4)
Medincial Uses: Pulverized roots eaten to improve appetite. Powdered entire plant for tea for heart pains. Boiled root applied to swellings. Tea for stomachache, bladder and kidney problems. (5) An infusion of the roots has been used in the treatment of stomach aches, bloody urine and women’s bladder complaints. The root has been chewed and the juice swallowed in the treatment of swollen testes. A decoction of the roots is used as a wash for itching skin complaints. A poultice of the boiled roots is applied to swellings (6) Collect the roots in the fall after they have seeded, split them in half and dry in the hanging cheesecloth pocket. You can also collect the flowers when they are still in bud. Both can be used as a mild diuretic to increase urine flow in the case of mild bladder, urethra inflections, and water retention. It contains inulin, a starch that is not metabolized by the body but is considered helpful as a liver and kidney tonic. Clinically it is used to test kidney function. The root is also helpful for throat inflammations and laryngitis. For this purpose boil a tablespoon of the chopped root in a cup of water for 20 minutes and drink it slowly. A cough syrup can also be made from the root using equal portions of honey by blending it in a blender (or by hand) then boil the two together for 20 minutes and strain. (7)
Foot Notes: ( 1, 5 )http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=LIPU
Foot Notes: (3, 7) Medicinal Plants Of the Mountain West by Michael Moore, 1st Edition, page 47- 48 , publisher: Museum of New Mexico Press ; copy right 1979
Common Name: Hops, Zarsa, Lupulo
Latin Name: Humulus americanus (Our native species is not covered by PFAF, only H. lupulus which has warnings for some people in regards to dermatitis.)
Family: Cannabinaceae (hemp)
Appearance and Habitat: Hops plants bear a resemblance to grapes, in that they have large opposite leaves of 3 to 7 lobes. They also have a rough surface. The vines can climb up to 40 feet in some localities or form dense trailing mats down moist slopes. Single stems can exceed 30 feet and usually intertwined with other stems. The flowers are inconspicuous and eventually mature into plump oval cylinders that are formed by the scales on the hop fruit. The fruits are called strobiles and have a smell similar to garlic, are yellowish green to amber and are 1 1/2 to 1/2 inches long. Our native species is found in eastern Nevada (Yes, I found it!!) , Utah, Arizona, and the Rocky Mountains from New Mexico north. It is found from 5,500 feet to over 9,000 feet. Look for it along shady, moist, forest embankments, areas near forest meadows, and along streams. (It is damn easy to spot in the fall when it has the fruit hanging from the undersides of the stems. That is how I found it. The strobiles that I picked were about 3/4 inch in length. )
Edible Use: In the spring take cardboard or plywood and place over new shoots. Let them sit in the dark for 3 days and then you can cook them like you would asparagus.
Medicinal Use: The strobiles should be picked in the early fall before turn to yellow from the green state. A fresh strobile tincture is the best way to use them. While still out in the field, cram as many as you can in a bottle, cover it with ethanol, and place a lid on the bottle. By the next day the air in the strobiles with be released and fill it with alcohol again. You can also dry them in an oven at 125-150 degrees or go back to using the cheesecloth drying method by placing them in a pocket of the cheesecloth where they will get lots of air current, and even then turn them and layer them no more than 3 deep. The tincture works the best. Hops can be used as a sedative, bitter tonic, anti-spasmodic, anodyne, and as an antibiotic. As a sedative it works by relaxing the sympathetic nervous system while acting as an anti-spasmodic by relaxing cramps. The dosage should be 3 to 5 strobiles in hot water or thirty to thirty-five drops of tincture. You can also use a rounded tablespoon of the dried chopped plant to obtain the same results. The tincture or a strong tea of the plant can also be used for toothaches and minor pains, like rheumatism to sciatica. If you have trouble sleeping over pains, try Hops. Hops also contains several substances that are antibiotic, but they are not soluble in water. Once again think about the tincture, for Hops is used in beer making to retard spoilage and as a preservative. The alcohol content of beer is enough to release the antibiotics. The tincture is also excellent on skin sores, like abscesses. For this use you can apply the tincture every couple hours until the swelling goes down. You can even use the dry herb for this, just mix it with alcohol before applying it. Heat some brandy or vodka and make a paste out of the herb and apply it as a poultice with gauze rapped around it. For problems with insomnia, try taking a bath with either the crushed strobiles, stems, or the leaves it will help relax you.
Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West by Micheal Moore, 1st Edition, page 83-84, Publisher: Museum of New Mexico Press, copyright 1979, ISBN: 0-89013-104-X
Reproduced, in part, (as well as previous postings under this title) in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.