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Common Name :Elephant’s head and Elephanthead
Habitat :This plant is found in the high mountain ranges of western North America, particularly the Cascades and High Sierra, much of Canada and Greenland. It grows in wet environments such as riverbanks.
General: erect perennial, 15-70 cm tall, coarsely fibrous-rooted, sometimes with an evident stem base, mostly hairless throughout. The stems reddish-purple, often clustered.
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Leaves: basal leaves 5-25 cm long, the blade equaling or exceeding the stalk, 0.5-4 cm wide, the pinnate segments narrow, sharply toothed, often with somewhat firm but elastic edges. Stem leaves alternate, several, gradually reduced upward.
Flowers: many in a dense, elongate, spike-like cluster. Bracts mostly much shorter than the flowers, at least the lower more or less cleft into narrow segments. Calyx lobes 5, short, entire, almost equal, often edged with minute hairs.Corolla pink-purple or almost red, 1-1.5 cm long, the galea short and strongly hooded, tipped with a slender, elongate,
conspicuously upturned beak, like an elephant trunk. Lower lip rather small.
Flowering time: June-August.
Fruits: capsules, hairless, curved and flattened.
Like other louseworts and related broomrape genera, this is a root parasite which obtains nutrients from the roots of other plants by piercing them with haustoria.
The Cheyenne Drug used a tea of powdered leaves and stems taken to stop or loosen a coughs. They also used a tea of smashed leaves and stems taken for coughs. All of the Pedicularis’ are tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, powerful aphrodisiacs, and sedatives. They are often employed medicinally for muscle pain and tension, particularly back pain. . It is also used for muscle strain due to overwork, sprains, joint pain, night-time cramps, and as a preliminary before bodywork such as massage. It is very relaxing to voluntary muscles, but large amounts can make a person goofy and lethargic. Pedicularis are also used for their psychological effects, good for anger, fear, pain, anxiety. The whole flowering herb is harvested for the tincture, but only the flowers, fresh or dried, are made into a tea. At least one Native American tribe is known to smoke the flowers of certain Pedicularis species for their medicinal effects and narcotic effects. These plants are a welcome addition to any smoking mixture both as flavor and a narcotic. Elephant’s Head is claimed to have the best flavor but is the mildest, but every Pedicularis has an excellent taste. P. Densiflora being the most potent species
Known Hazards: Louseworts can be eaten in small quantities in an emergency, but contain enough poisonous glycosides to cause severe illness if they are eaten in quantity.
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.