Herbs & Plants

Abronia fragrans

Botanical Name : Abronia fragrans
Family: Nyctaginaceae
Genus: Abronia
Species:A. fragrans

Common Names: Snowball Sand Verbena, Sweet sand-verbena, Prairie snowball, Fragrant verbena

Habitat : The native range of sweet sand-verbena extends from Northern Arizona to western Texas and Oklahoma north through the Rocky Mountain and western plains regions of the United States and south to Chihuahua, Mexico. Sweet sand-verbena occurs in prairies, plains, and savannas where it can be found growing in loose, dry, sandy soils.

Abronia fragrans, Sweet sand-verbena, is an herbaceous perennial with an upright or sprawling growth habit, reaching 8-40 inches (about 20–102 cm). It grows from a taproot with sticky, hairy stems growing from 7.1 inches to 3.3 feet (18–100 cm) long.

The flowers consist of 4 to 5 petaloid sepals and sepaloid bracts with a tubular corolla borne in clusters of 25 to 80 at the ends of stems. The blossoms are usually white but may be green-, lavender-, or pink-tinged. The sticky leaves are simple and opposite, up to 3.5″ (8.89 cm) long and 1.2″ (3 cm) wide, and elliptical or linear. The fruits are egg-shaped achenes about 0.1″ (.25 cm) long, lustrous, and black or brown. The achene is enclosed within a leathery top-shaped calyx base which may or may not be winged.


It is in flower from Jun to August. The flowers of this plant open in the evening and close again in the morning, a habit which gives the Nyctaginaceae family its common name of Four O’clocks. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.
Prefers a light well-drained sandy soil in full sun. This species is not very hardy in Britain, though it should succeed outdoors in the southern part of the country, especially if given a warm sheltered site. The flowers are produced in terminal clusters, they only open in the coolness of the evening, diffusing a vanilla-like perfume. Seed is rarely ripened on plants growing in Britain.
Seed – sow autumn or early spring very shallowly in pots of sandy soil in a greenhouse. Germination can be very slow unless you peel off the outer skin and pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water. The seed usually germinates in 1 – 2 months at 15°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Seedlings are prone to damp off and so should be kept well-ventilated[200]. Plant out in late spring, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings in spring, rooted in sand.
Edible Uses:
Root – cooked. Dried then ground into a powder and mixed with corn. Use of the root was said by some North American Indian tribes to give one a good appetite and make them fat.The Acoma and the Laguna mix the ground roots with cornmeal and eat the mixture as food.

Medicinal Uses:

Cathartic; Diaphoretic; Emetic.

The plant is cathartic, diaphoretic and emetic. The roots and flowers were used by the North American Indians to treat stomach cramps and as a general panacea or ‘life’ medicine. A cold infusion was used as a lotion for sores or sore mouths and also to bathe perspiring feet.
The Ute use as a roots and flowers for stomach and bowel troubles, whereas the Zuni use the fresh flowers alone for stomachaches.
The Indigenous peoples of the Southwest use the plant as a wash for sores and insect bites, to treat stomachache, and as an appetite booster. Among the Navajo, it is used medicinally for boils and taken internally when a spider was swallowed. The Kayenta Navajo use it as a cathartic, for insect bites, as a sudorific, as an emetic, for stomach cramps, and as a general panacea. The Ramah Navajo use it as a lotion for sores or sore mouth and to bathe perspiring feet.
The Keres mix ground roots of the plant with corn flour, and eat to gain weight.
Other Uses: Sweet sand-verbena is grown in gardens for its attractive blossoms and fragrance, and to attract butterflies.The Keres mix ground roots of the plant with corn flour and use this mixture to keep from becoming greedy, and they make ceremonial necklaces from the plant.
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.

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