|The agave plant is common in Mexico and the southern United States. Although it looks similar to aloe, the two aren’t related. Agave is white, blue or green and has a large central spike when it flowers. It prefers arid-tropical climates.
Agave attenuata is the most commonly used for gardens because its leaves lack sharp needles. Agave tequilana, or blue agave, is native to Mexico and is used to make tequila.
The agave plant is a succulent, meaning that it retains water for survival in arid climates. Although it is often mistaken for a cactus, agave is actually related to the yucca, lilly and amaryllis families.
You can drink the water stored in the agave plant’s flower stalk, and the flowers are edible if boiled. You can use the leaf fibers to make rope, threads, shoes, clothing and fire timber and the sap of some species is an effective soap. (“soap on a rope”) Some agave juice can cause skin irritations in a few people. Grows 2000 to 7000 feet
skin lesions, burns
The tips of Agave can be used to make sewing needles.
tea is very good for a GI tonic, indigestion
Cook the leaves (slow roast for a long time) and you can eat it. Tastes sweet.
|External application – not typically used internally.
Remedy for chigger and gnat bites. Take the leaf and rub on bit and then tape the leaf onto the skin. Probably also works for other insect bites. Helps relief itching from athlete’s foot fungus.
anti fungal and antiseptic
sprains, dislocations, hyperextension
pain on movement
Chaparral or Creosote
|The creosote bush (Latin name: Larrea tridentata) is common in the Desert Southwest. The creosote bush can be identified from its waxy green leaves and yellow flowers. These later turn to round, white wooly seed-vessels, which are the fruit of the creosote bush. In Arizona it is only found in the southern third of the state because it cannot exist above 5,000 feet of elevation. In the Phoenix area, it is the dominant desert shrub.Many people who are new to the desert notice the peculiar odor in the desert on the rare occasions when we have rain. People who move to the Phoenix area look at each other and ask, “What is that smell?” It is the creosote bush. It is a very unique odor, and although many people don’t care for it, some seem to like it just because it conveys a positive message – RAIN!|
The leaves of the creosote bush are coated with a resin to prevent water loss in the hot desert. The resin of the creosote bush also protects the plant from being eaten by most mammals and insects. It is believed that the bush produces a toxic substance to keep other nearby plants from growing. Creosote bushes are very long lived, many of them existing for one hundred years, and can grow to a height of 15 feet.excellent antibiotic, used for infections for cuts as scraps and all kinds of skin diseases as a poultice.
helps with digestion of fats – drink as a tea from leaves.
Helps with all kinds of infections since it is anti-viral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti parasitic.
juice for candida
Chaparro Amargosa or Crucifixion Thorn
|amebic dysentery, giardiasis
used to purify water
Make tea out of the stems/twigs to treat giardia.
Encelia or Brittlebush
|bright flowers in the spring! is a common desert shrub of northwestern Mexico through California and the southwestern United States. Its common name comes from the brittleness of its stems.
Arthritis aggravated by cold damp
mouthwash for tooth pain
induce sweating to break a cold
Gum is used for church incense
Brittlebush has a long history of native use.
Flowers and leaves can be used for allergies – boil as a tea and drink. It can also be used for lung congestion and cholera. The resin can also be used on burns and as a salve for aching muscles and bones. (Chew it up and rub it on)
The resin collected from the base of the plant is often yellowish to brown in color. This resin can be heated and used as a glue. The O’odham and Seri use it for hafting, to hold points on arrows and harpoons.
A different sort of resin is collected from the upper stems, is is more gummy and generally a clear yellow. The Seri use this to seal pottery vessels.
Sells area Tohono O’odham children use upper stem resin as a passable chewing gum.
The early Spanish friars learned that this resin made a highly fragrant incense, akin to frankenscense in odor.
Oldtime cowboys used brittlebush stem as a fine toothbrush. Simply select a largish branch and peal off the bitter bark, no need for toothpaste.
Seri use brittlebush to treat toothache. For toothache the bark is removed, the branch heated in ashes, and then placed in the mouth to “harden” a loose tooth.
|jojoba grows to 6 feet tall, with a broad, dense crown. The leaves are opposite, oval in shape, broad, thick waxy glaucous gray-green in color. The flowers are small, greenish-yellow, with 5–6 sepals and no petals.
Each plant is single-sex, either male or female, with hermaphrodites being extremely rare. The fruit is an acorn-shaped ovoid, three-angled capsule 1–2 centimetres long, partly enclosed at the base by the sepals. The mature seed is a hard oval, dark brown in color and contains an oil (liquid wax) content of approximately 54%. An average-size bush produces 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) of pollen, to which few humans are allergic.
Jojoba foliage provides year-round food opportunity for many animals, including deer, javelina, bighorn sheep, and livestock. The nuts are eaten by squirrels, rabbits, other rodents, and larger birds. Only Bailey’s Pocket Mouse, however, is known to be able to digest the wax found inside the jojoba nut.
In large quantities, the seed meal is toxic to many mammals, and the indigestible wax acts as a laxative in humans. The Seri, who utilize nearly every edible plant in their territory, do not regard the beans as real food and in the past ate it only in emergencies.
1500 to 5000 feet
use as a coffee/tea
asthma, emphysema, sore throat
Used for promoting hair growth and luster, hence found in shampoos. Often also added to skin products. Some reports show that Seri Indians in Mexico used it for wound healing.
|Small trees with dark olive skin
1500 to 8000 feet
urinary tract infection
stomach and digestion
good for cooking
One Seed Juniper has the best berries to use for nutrition during winter months. A tea of the berries is a tonic for heart, liver and kidneys.
Only harvest dead wood. These trees take hundreds of years to grow.
|1000 to 5500 feet
external for broken skin, intestinal and amebic dysentery
eye wash for conjunctivitis
make flour, cereal from the pods
A tea of the bark is a good remedy for athlete’s foot. A tea of the leaves have been reported as good for kidney disorders. The clear gum that sometimes exudes from the bark can be used as glue. It can also be made as a tea for sore throats and lotion for sore eyes.
|protects the liver from damage from heavy metals and poisoning (including mushroom poisoning). Also shown to reduce cellular damage caused by exposure to radiation.
good for gallbladder dysfunction
Helps increase HDL levels
|One of the queerest and spectacular of desert plants. Because of its appearance it is also known as coachwhip, candlewood, slimwood, Jacob’s staff, vine cactus, flamingsword. The Ocotillo is not a cactus. A thorny shrub, it is a member of the Ocotillo Family and related to the boojum tree found in Baja. Blooms during the months of March, April, May and June with clusters of red, tubular flowers (which look like a flaming sword). Grows at elevations below 5,000′ preferring rocky, well-drained slopes. Grows 6 to 20 feet|
Most of the year, the individual “sticks” or canes that make up the plant do not have leaves, but after a heavy rain bright green leaves grow. When arid conditions return, the plant conserves energy by losing its leaves.
Ranchers, past and present, planted rows of ocotillo to create living fences. In some parts of Mexico, stems are used by natives to build huts.
Hemmorrhoids, prostate enlargement?
can be used for cancer. Apache used the tip of the branches for fatigue and swollen limbs, glands, including mumps, lumps and tonsils
makes an excellent tea – Taken as a tea it has been found to dissolve tumors, cysts and bladder infections.
Stem and blossoms can be used for sore throat and also for delayed menstruation.
|A summer or winter annual with finely dissected leaves that emit a sweet “pineapple-like” odor when crushed. Pineapple-weed is primarily a weed of landscapes, nurseries, and turfgrass, but also occurs in compacted areas like gravel roads or walkways. Pineapple-weed is found throughout the United States.Individual leaves are arranged alternately along the stem and are from 1/2 to 2 inches long. Each leaf is hairless and divided into many narrow segments (1 to 2 mm wide) that give off a “pineapple-like” smell when crushed.
2 to 12 inches high
similar to Chamomile (aka wild chamomile)
Stomach indigestion and irritability (anti-spasmodic)
nerve damage also a good sedative
Good for teething in children.
|Prickly pear cactus are found in all of the deserts of the American
Southwest, with different species having adapted to different locale
and elevation ranges. Most require course, well-drained soil in dry,
rocky flats or slopes. But some prefer mountain pinyon/juniper forests, while others require steep, rocky slopes in mountain foothills.Most prickly pear cactus have yellow, red or purple flowers, even among the same species. They vary in height from less than a foot (Plains, Hedgehog, Tuberous) to 6 or 7 feet
Contusions and sprains, asthmatic symptoms of the chest, liver trouble, earaches,
skin abrasions and tumors (skin growths that are not necessarily malignant).
Filleted pads can be used as a poultice or a band-aid
In Mexico anti inflammatory diuretic
adult onset diabetes
fruit are delicious- singe needles over the fire – Caution: not all varieties are safe to eat. Don’t eat the ones with red-orange thorns (Jaggers ?) – they are toxic.
Leaves must be cooked or roasted.
|Shrub to 3′. Branches gray. Stems are spineless but taper to a sharp point. Leaves are inconspicuous, simple, smooth-edged to lobed, grayish-green, haired to 1/2″ long. Flowers bloom April – Oct. and are violet, with 5 petals. Fruit is fuzzy greenish-white ball with barbed spines
can be used as a bandaid
like a steptic pencil
|The yucca plant is native to the high deserts of the southwestern United States and Mexico.
Yucca plants are tree-like succulents of the lily family (Liliaceae) with stemless stiff, pointed leaves that end in a sharp needle.
Native American tribes in the southwestern United States and Northern Mexico found numerous uses for the yucca, dating back hundreds of years. Several tribes, including the Western Apaches on the Fort Apache Reservation in Arizona, use the plant today. The most common use seems to be for hygiene. Roots of the yucca baccata are pounded to remove extracts that are made into shampoo and soap. The Apaches also use yucca leaf fibers to make dental floss and rope. Historically, Western Apaches mixed ground juniper berries with yucca fruit to make a gravy. They also made a fermented drink from juniper berries and yucca fruit pounded to a pulp and soaked in water. Other Native American groups used yucca soap to treat dandruff and hair loss.
Native Americans also used yucca plants for a variety of other non-medical purposes, including making sandals, belts, cloth, baskets, cords, and mats. Such uses can still be found today among Hopi, Papago, and Ute Indians. The Zuni used a mixture of soap made from yucca sap and ground aster to wash newborn babies to stimulate hair growth. Navajos would tie a bunch of yucca fibers together and use it as a brush for cleaning metates.
The primary medical use of yucca is to treat arthritis and joint pain and inflammation. Native Americans used sap from the leaves in poultices or baths to treat skin lesions, sprains, inflammation, and bleeding. Teas made from yucca mixed together with other herbs are still brewed by folk healers in northern New Mexico to treat asthma and headaches. Tea of the root stalk or leaves is nearly a miraculous remedy for relieving heart burn according to Peter Bigfoot.
Yucca extract is used to treat a variety of other conditions, including migraine headaches, colitis, ulcers, wounds, gout, bursitis, hypertension (high blood pressure), and high LDL cholesterol (also called bad cholesterol). Liver, kidney, and gallbladder disorders are also treated with yucca extract. More recently, researchers have found that resveratrol, a compound found in yucca extract as well as in red wine, inhibits the aggregation or clumping of blood platelets. This finding suggests that yucca extract may be useful in preventing blood clots.
A number of commercial uses for yucca extract have been found, including adding it to root beer, alcoholic beer, and cocktail mixers as a foaming agent. The bittersweet dark brown extract is also used as an additive in ice cream and other foods.
Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon West, Michael MoreMuseum of New Mexico Press 1989
Rudolf Steiner and Biodynamic Agriculture, Rudolf Steiner
Organon, Samuel Hahnemann
Correspondence with Grabriel Howearth former owner of Seeds of Change, Oddveig Myhre Naturopathic doctor.