Botanical Name: Larrea tridentata
Species: L. tridentata
Synonyms : L. divaricata. L. mexicana.
Common Name : Creosote Bush – Chaparral
Habitat : Larrea tridentata is a prominent species in the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan Deserts of western North America, and its range includes those and other regions in portions of
southeastern California, Arizona, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah, New Mexico and Texas in the United States, and northern Chihuahua and Sonora in Mexico. The species grows as far
east as Zapata County, Texas, along the Rio Grande southeast of Laredo near the 99th meridian west. It grows in desert areas.
Larrea tridentata is an evergreen shrub growing to 1 to 3 metres (3.3 to 9.8 ft) tall, rarely 4 metres (13 ft). The stems of the plant bear resinous, dark green leaves with two opposite lanceolate leaflets joined at the base, with a deciduous awn between them, each leaflet 7 to 18 millimetres (0.28 to 0.71 in) long and 4 to 8.5 millimetres (0.16 to 0.33 in) broad. The flowers are up to 25 millimetres (0.98 in) in diameter, with five yellow petals. Galls may form by the activity of the creosote gall midge. The whole plant exhibits a characteristic odor of creosote, from which the common name derives. In the regions where it grows its smell is often associated with the “smell of rain”.
As the creosote bush grows older, its oldest branches eventually die and its crown splits into separate crowns. This normally happens when the plant is 30 to 90 years old. Eventually the old
crown dies and the new one becomes a clonal colony from the previous plant, composed of many separate stem crowns all from the same seed.
Requires a moderately fertile moisture-retentive soil in full sun or light shade. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and –
10°c. The plant is resinous and aromatic.
Seed – we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in a greenhouse in spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and
grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of new growth in spring in a frame
Edible Uses: Condiment; Tea.
The flower buds are pickled in vinegar and used as a caper substitute. The stems and leaves are a tea substitute. The twigs are chewed to alleviate thirst. A resin is obtained from the leaves
and twigs, it delays or prevents oils and fats from becoming rancid.
Chaparal is used for treating such ailments as: tuberculosis, bowel complaints, stomach ulcers and bowel disorders, cancers, and colds and flu. It is found to be beneficial to the walls of
capillaries throughout the body, and so are good to take regularly in cases of capillary fragility. Chaparal contains N.D.G.A.. It is responsible for inhibiting several enzyme reactions, including
lipo oxyginase, which is responsible for some unhealthy inflammatory and immune-system responses. It has been shown to reduce inflammatory histamine responses in the lung, which is good news for asthma sufferers. N.D.G.A. is one of the most highly anti-oxidant substances known to man. Several types of tumors, such as those in uterine fibroids and fibrosystic breast disease, can be helped immensely by a concentrated extract of the plant. Chaparal can improve liver function, causing the liver metablolism to speed up, clearing toxins, and improving the livers’ ability to synthesize fatty acids into high density lipids (HDLs….the good quality cholesterol). The low density lipids levels (LDLs….the poor quality cholesterol) decrease. The strong anti- oxident effects of Larrea t. appear to repair free radical damage caused by drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines.
External uses of the herb include poultices placed on aching joints, and the tea or a fomentation (applied several times per day and left on the area) for such things as ringworm, skin
fungi, and athletes’ foot. Has also been used for reducing fibroids A study in the Journal of Dental Research showed chaparral mouthwash reduced cavities by 75%.
Lipoxygenase and 5-hydroxyeicosatatraenois acid are usually high in the synovial fluid of arthritis sufferers which means Chapparal’s ability to inhibit these can help here as well.
Larrea contains active flavonoids and ligans that, in addition to being anti-oxidants, act as antifungals, antibiotics, and antivirals. It is in this last capacity, as an antiviral that prompted
investigations into its ability to inhibit the spl promoter HIV and as an inhibitor of Herpes simplex-1 in cell cultures; as well as Kaposi’s sarcoma virus. Clinical evaluations consisted of
testimonies from close to 36 persons. Larrea was prepared as an extract in an aloe-based lotion and was effective in reversing symptoms in nearly all cases of HSV-1 and shingles within 12-24
hours and in greatly reducing the severity of sores from Kaposi’s sarcoma in people in full-blown AIDS. The lotion proved to work faster and to be more effective than acyclovir, the main drug for herpes.
When applied to the skin as a tea, tincture, or salve, Chaparral slows down the rate of bacterial grown and kills it with its antimicrobial activity. Chaparral will also help dry skin,
brittle hair and nails and cracks in the hands or feet.
Known Hazards : Acute hepatitis associated with oral use. Contact dermatitis also reported. Not considered safe as a herbal remedy
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.