Medicinal Plant: Creosote Bush

One of my missions this year is to nail down identification of some of the more important medicinal plants of the desert Southwest. This blog will be a useful repository for pictures and basic information.

CreosoteBush aka Chapparal, is abundant in the Chihuahuan Desert.

This time of year there are few blossoms, so I feel lucky to have captured an image. If you look carefully at the photo you can see the distinctive little white balls that are the fruits.

Its scientific name is Larrea diverticata. After it rains this bush gives off a resinous odor, and so is sometimes called “stinkbush”. It is also called “greasewood”, as it has resinous incrustations on the branches which Native Americans used for mending pottery and fixing broken arrow points.

Chaparral is a powerful antimicrobial and makes a great hiker’s field dressing for abrasions. In the field you could make a tea and apply liberally. At home you can make a tincture or salve to carry in your pack.

Taken internally, it acts as an antioxidant, although it is simply quite disgusting to drink as a tea. Better to get it over with quickly by imbibing it as a tincture. The book Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon West by Michael Moore is an excellent resource , and has more specifics on its internal action and uses. He recommends a 1:5, 75% alcohol tincture.


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