Botanical Name: Acourtia microcephala
Species: A. microcephala
Synonyms: Perezia microcephala (DC.) A.Gray
Common Names: Sacapellote
Habitat: Acourtia microcephala is native to southern California and Baja California, where it grows in woodland and chaparral, especially in the coastal mountain ranges. It grows on Dry sunny slopes.
Acourtia microcephala is a bushy perennial herb producing several erect stems from a woody caudex up to about 1.5 meters in maximum height. The stems branch toward the ends and are densely foliated in toothed, wavy-edged, glandular leaves 2 to 15 centimeters long. The stems and leaves are sticky with exudate. The inflorescences contain clusters of many flower heads, each cylindrical head wrapped in long, flat glandular phyllaries. It is in flower from July to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs). The flower heads are discoid, containing only disc florets and no ray florets. Each disc floret has two lips, the outer of which is long, flat, and usually bright pink, and easily mistaken for a ligule. The fruit is a glandular achene a few millimeters long which has a pappus of bristles up to a centimeter in length.
Requires a freely draining gritty soil, preferably of fairly low fertility, and a position in full sun. Dislikes winter wet. Plants are not very hardy outdoors in Britain, though they should succeed in the milder areas of the country, especially if given the additional protection of a wall. They are hardy to about -10°c, so long as they are not too wet. Excess moisture, especially in the winter, is the main cause of death.
This plant had a traditional medicinal use as a laxative. A decoction of the plant has been used to bring about a very quick passage of the bowels.
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