Brittlebush

Botanical Name : Encelia farinose
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Encelia
Species: E. farinosa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Common Name :Brittlebush

Other Names : “incienso,” and “hierba del vaso” (Spanish) and “cotx” (Seri). The Spanish name is because dried sap was burned by in early Spanish Missions in the New World as incense.

Habitat : Brittlebush, 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.

Encelia farinosa can be found in a variety of habitats from dry gravelly slopes to open sandy washes up to 1000 m. It does well in cultivation and recently has spread dramatically in areas not natural to its distribution in large part because Caltrans has begun to use it in hydroseeding.

Description:
Encelia farinosa grows to 1 m-3 ft tall, with fragrant leaves 3–8 cm long, ovate to deltoid, and silvery tomentose. The capitula are 3-3.5 cm diameter, with orange-yellow ray florets and yellow or purple-brown disc florets. They are arranged in loose panicles above the leafy stems fruit 3–6 mm and there is no pappus.

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3-Acetyl-6-methoxybenzaldehyde is a chemical compound found in the leaves of E. farinosa.

Varieties
*Encelia farinosa var. farinosa Gray ex Torr.
*Encelia farinosa var. phenicodonta (Blake) I.M. Johnston
dark-eyed brittlebush

*Encelia farinosa var. radians Brandeg. ex Blake

Medicinal Uses:
The dried herb is chewed, or the tea used, as a mouthwash to alleviate toothache, sore gums or a sore mouth.  The powdered herb is mixed with water for a hot poultice, and the tea taken for acute arthritis episodes.  The bright yellow resin is burned for an aromatic incense and chewed as an expectorant.  A simple tea of leaves for mouthwash and gargle.  Powdered leaves for poultice.

Other Uses:
Brittlebush has a long history of uses by indigenous and pioneer peoples.

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*Glue: 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.

*Sealer: 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.

*Gum: The Sells area Tohono O’odham children use upper stem resin as a passable chewing gum.
Incense: The early Spanish friars learned that this resin made a highly fragrant incense, akin to frankenscense in odor.

*Toothbrush: Oldtime cowboys used brittlebush stem as a fine toothbrush. Simply select a largish branch and peal off the bitter bark, no need for toothpaste.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encelia_farinosa
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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