Herbs & Plants

Opuntia basilaris

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Botanical Name : Opuntia basilaris
Family: Cactaceae
Genus: Opuntia
Species: O. basilaris
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Common Names :Beavertail,Beavertail Cactus

Habitat : Opuntia basilaris  is found in southwest USA, mostly in the Mojave Desert, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and Colorado Deserts, and also in the Colorado Plateau and northwest Mexico; it ranges through the Grand Canyon and Colorado River region to southern Utah, and in western Arizona, regions along the Lower Colorado River Valley.

The Opuntia basilaris is a medium sized to small prickly pear cactus, depending on variety, growing to about 60 cm tall. A single plant may consist of hundreds of fleshy, flattened pads. These are more or less blue-gray, depending on variety, growing to a length of 14 cm and are maximum 10 cm wide and 1 to 1.5 cm thick. They are typically spineless, but have instead many small barbed bristles, called glochids, that easily penetrate the skin. The pink to rose colored flowers are most common; however, a rare variety of white and even yellow flowers also exist. Opuntia basilaris bloom from spring to early summer….CLICK  &   SEE  THE  PICTURES

Edible Uses:
The Cahuilla Native Americans used beavertail as a food staple. The buds were cooked or steamed, and then were eaten or stored. The large seeds were ground up to be eaten as mush.

Chemical constituents: Opuntia basilaris is a psychedelic plant containing 0.01% mescaline and  4-hydroxy-3-5-dimethoxyphenethylamine.

Medicinal Uses:
The older pads served as medicine.  Their pulp provided a wet dressing for bruises and sores, bites and lacerations, an application said to deaden pain and hasten healing.

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.


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Herbs & Plants

Lycium pallidum

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Botanical Name ; Lycium pallidum
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Lycium
Species: L. pallidum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Solanales

Common Names:Pale Desert-thorn, Pale Wolfberry, Pale Lycium, Rabbit Thorn

Habitat :  Lycium pallidum is native to northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. In Mexico it can be found in Sonora, Chihuahua, Zacatecas, and San Luis Potosi. In the United States it occurs from California to Texas and as far north as Utah and Colorado.Grows in  Desert, Upland, Riparian. This plant grows in sunny locations in riparian areas, higher elevation deserts, chaparral, grasslands, and juniper woodlands.

Lycium pallidum is Perennial, Deciduous flowering plant.This shrub grows 1 to 3 meters tall. It is a dense tangle of spiny spreading or erect branches. It can form bushy thickets. The leaves are pale, giving the plant its name. The flowers are solitary or borne in pairs. They are funnel-shaped and “creamy-yellow to yellowish-green” or “greenish cream, sometimes tinged with purple”. They are fragrant and pollinated by insects. The fruit is a juicy, oval-shaped, shiny red berry containing up to 50 seeds. The plant reproduces by seed and it can also spread via cuttings, and by suckering and layering.

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This plant grows in many types of desert habitat. It occurs in pinyon-juniper woodland, sagebrush, shrubsteppe, savanna, and other ecosystems. It can grow in high-salinity soils. It is characteristic of the flora of the Mojave Desert, and it also occurs in the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts. In the Mojave Desert it grows alongside plants such as winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata), range ratany (Krameria parvifolia), spiny hopsage (Grayia spinosa), Shockley goldenhead (Acamptopappus shockleyi), Fremont dalea (Dalea fremontii), spiny menodora (Menodora spinescens), and species of ephedra, prickly pear, and yucca. In Arizona it grows in riparian habitat with sycamore (Platanus wrightii), willows (Salix spp.), Arizona walnut (Juglans major), Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii), alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana), Arizona white oak (Quercus arizonica), and velvet ash (Fraxinus velutina). This plant is common around Anasazi ruins; they may have simply collected it and dropped the seeds, but it is possible they cultivated it.

Edible Uses: The ripe red berries are edible raw, cooked, or dried and were a food source for Native Americans.Many types of animals consume the fruits. Phainopepla especially favor it. Woodrats like the foliage.

Medicinal Uses;
Native Americans utilized the plant for a number of medicinal and other purposes. The Navajo used it for toothache. They considered it a sacred plant and sacrificed it to the gods. Several groups used the fruit for food by eating it fresh, cooked, or dried, eating it mixed with clay, boiling it into a syrup, and making it into beverages

Wolfberry is used when there is excessive eye and nose discharge in allergic situations.  In addition, when lower respiratory tract tissues are congested and there are accompanying feelings of bronchial tightness Wolfberry can prove opening to this area.  Wolfberry’s moderately anti-cholinergic activity shifts constrictive emphasis away from these affected respiratory tissues.  This effect is most useful when this area is deemed over active, from an array of causes, but mostly because of an allergic-immune mediated response of some sort; Wolfberry shrinks tissues and allays hyper-secretion.

Wolfberry’s effect is also noticeable in gut and intestinal centered distresses.  Nausea, intestinal spasms and general over-excitability of these areas respond well to Wolfberry.  The plant acts well to quell chills, sweating and nausea (much like the drunken juice of 1 or 2 raw potatoes) from over-exposure to chemical herbicides, fertilizers and other conventional agricultural productions. Wolfberry is a mild drug plant, meaning it suppresses symptoms and does not have much underlying value beyond temporally diminishing distresses, albeit in a limited way.  In chronic issues, Wolfberry works well in formula with other more supportive herbs.  It thereby can diminish surfaces distresses while deeper issues, possibly exaggerated immune responses or stress patterns can be addressed.

Topically the freshly poulticed plant or liniment can be applied to acute stings, swellings, contusions and other injuries where the skin is not broken.  In this respect, Wolfberry acts like other Nightshade family plants applied externally.  It moderately reduces pain and inflammation similarly to, although weaker than Datura or Tobacco.  The Navajo use the ground root for toothache.

The ground up root has been placed in a tooth cavity to bring relief from toothache. The bark and the dried berries have been used as a ‘life medicine’. The fruit of many members of this genus is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavonoids and other bio-active compounds. It is also a fairly good source of essential fatty acids, which is fairly unusual for a fruit. It is being investigated as a food that is capable of reducing the incidence of cancer and also as a means of halting or reversing the growth of cancers. A feeble, useful and safe anticholinergic for hay fever, colds and diarrhea

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


Lycium pallidum – Pale Desert-thorn

Herbs & Plants

Hyptis emoryi

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Botanical Name : Hyptis emoryi
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Hyptis
Species: H. emoryi
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Name :Desert Lavender

Habitat :
It occurs mostly in areas with a water source; in the southwestern USA deserts it is commonly in the dry washes, intermixed with other species.

In the “Creosote Bush scrub” Yuma Desert-(western Sonoran Desert) of southwest Arizona, it is found with the palo verde, Bebbia, Encelia farinosa, desert ironwood (Olneya tesota), Lycium andersonii (wolfberry or Anderson thornbush), Psorothamnus spinosus (a type of smoke tree), and Acacia greggii, as some common associated species of the washes, elevation dependent.

In Arizona, found from central to southwestern Arizona of the Sonoran Desert; in northwest Arizona found in regions of the Mojave Desert. In southern California and Nevada, desert lavender is found in southern regions of the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert of southeast California.

Desert lavender is a medium to tall cold tender perennial shrub found in the southwestern United States of Arizona, Nevada, California, and northwestern Mexico in Sonora and Baja California.


It is a multi-stemmed shrub reaching 15–18 ft in optimum locations. It has violet-blue flowers up to 1 in, in leaf axils. The flowers are profuse along the main stem and side branches and is an aromatic attractor of the honeybee and other species. Leaves are oval and a whitish gray-green-(in deserts), serrated margins, hairy, and 2-3 in. It is found in dry washes, and on rocky slopes, up to 3000 ft (900 m). It is evergreen or cold deciduous, depending on location.

Medicinal Uses:
Both the flowers and the leaves can be used to make a minty-tasting tea that is good for the stomach and throat.  It’s an anesthethic to the esophagus, thus extremely soothing to inflamed tissues. It is also a hemostatic, used by desert Indians to treat heavy menstruation and bleeding hemorrhoids as well as being given to women in childbirth.  Desert lavender is an excellent tea for hangovers and helps rid the mouth of the sour taste that comes with stomach flu.  Betulinic acid, with tumor-inhibitory properties, was identified from a chloroform extract by Sheth et al. (3). Tanowitz et al.  (4)  identified 34 constituents from the oil of a collection from San Diego Co., California, with 11.9% borneol as the most abundant constituent

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.


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Herbs & Plants

Castela emoryi

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Botanical Name :Castela emoryi
Family : Simaroubaceae – Quassia family
Genus: Castela Turp. – castela
Species: Castela emoryi (A. Gray) Moran & Felger – crucifixion thorn
Kingdom : Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision:  Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass:  Rosidae
Order: Sapindales

Common Name ;Crucifixion Thorn ,Castela emoryi

Habitat : Crucifixion thorn is endemic to the Sonoran Desert and southern Mojave Desert, is
widely scattered in southwestern Arizona (e.g., along Interstate 10) and reaches its
western limits as a few populations in the deserts of southeastern California (Turner, et al,
1995). This species also occurs in northwestern Sonora, but is reported from only 4-5
sites there (Turner, et al., 1995), and in northern Baja California at one site immediately
adjacent to the Crucifixion Thorn Natural Area (CTNA) population in Imperial County,
California (Turner, et al., 1995).

The crucifixion thorn barely reaches the WMPA as a few scattered populations and
individuals: Amboy Crater quad. (Davidson, 1920; Skinner and Pavlik, 1994); Lavic, 8
miles (13 km) west of Ludlow, occurs for some distance along a sandy wash (Ferris, 1919;
Munz and Johnston, 1922; Munz, 1974; Jepson, 1936; Tibor, 1997); east of Hector Mine
Road in a wash, Sunshine Peak quad. (Wear and Wade s.n., UCR, RSA; Skinner and
Pavlik, 1994); lava beds 25 mi. (40 km) northeast of Daggett, Dunn quad. (Greer s.n.,
SD; Jepson, 1936; Parish, 1921; Skinner and Pavlik, 1994); at the southeast edge of the
area at Clark’s Pass east of Twentynine Palms (Aulenbrock 127, UCR), and at Dale Dry
Lake (D. Swinney s.n., UCR).

Castela emoryi is a   short tree (up to 30 feet tall) with a crooked trunk and a wide spreading crown with many fine branches, leafless for much of the year.The tree looks like Jerusalem thorn – yellow paloverde


It  leaf is alternate, bipinnately compound, usually with only 2 major leaflets each about 1/2 inch long, blue-green and short lived. and the flowers are  loose clusters of bright yellow flowers with 5 lobes, entire flower 3/4 inch across, appearing in spring and early summer. The fruits are Two to 3 inch flat legume, light brown, mature in the summer and drop quickly.
Twigs are Slender, blue-green and smooth, straight spine at base of leaf. Barkis Initially smooth and green, later turning light brown and a bit scaly.

Medicinal Uses:
The Yavapai people traditionally used this as a medicinal plant, making a dermatological aid from its bud’s sap. The cold brewed tea is used to treat amoebic and giardic diarrhea, and any stomach or intestinal flu, particularly in the flat-tasting, early days of recuperation.  Soak the stem pieces in water to make it safer to drink. The tea makes a good skin wash for scratches and abrasions.

Other Uses:
Insecticide and fungicide:
Castela emoryi is a plant toxin insecticide. It contains quassinoids such as glaucarubolone glucoside which has antifeedant properties against termites such as Reticulitermes flavipes, or potential fungicidal activity for the control of grape downy mildew.

It also contains glaucarubol, a compound characteristic of the family, ellagic acid, betulin and (—)-syringaresinol.

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.


Click to access crucif1.PDF

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Herbs & Plants

Yucca (Yucca schidigera)

Botanical Name : Yucca schidigera
Family: Agavaceae
Genus: Yucca
Kingdom: Plantae
Species: Y. schidigera

Habitat : It is native to the Mojave Desert and Sonoran Desert of southeastern California, Baja California, southern Nevada and western Arizona.


The Mojave yucca is a small evergreen tree growing to 5 m tall, with a dense crown of spirally arranged bayonet-like leaves on top of a conspicuous basal trunk. The bark is gray-brown, being covered with brown dead leaves near the top, becoming irregularly rough and scaly-to-ridged closer to the ground. The leaves are 30-150 cm long and 4-11 cm broad at the base, concavo-convex, thick, very rigid, and yellow-green to blue-green in color.

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The Mojave yucca (Yucca schidigera), also known as the Spanish Dagger, is a flowering plant in the family Agavaceae.

The flowers are white, sometimes having a purple tinge, bell-shaped, 3-5 cm long (rarely to 7.5 cm), produced in a compact, bulbous cluster 60-120 cm tall at the top of the stem. The fruit is fleshy and green, maturing into a leathery, dark brown six-celled capsule 5-11.5 cm long and 3-4 cm broad in late summer.

This yucca typically grows on rocky desert slopes and Creosote desert flats between 300-1200 m altitude, rarely up to 2500 m. They thrive in full sun and in soil with excellent drainage. It also needs no summer water. It is related to the Banana yucca (Y. baccata), which occurs in the same general area; hybrids between the two are sometimes found.

Medicinal Uses:

Common Uses: Cholesterol Control * Osteoarthritis * Pet care * Rheumatoid Arthritis *
Properties:  Analgesic* Anti-inflammatory* Antirheumatic*
Parts Used: Roots
Constituents: saponin (click to see : Saponin’s Research Information)

Yucca’ s most promising use among natural health practitioners is in the treatment of both osteo and rheumatoid arthritis. The steroidal saponins in yucca are used as starter substances in the production of synthetic steroid drugs. These phytosterols work with the natural immune functions of the body, and assist the body in using and producing these its steroid related hormones. Human studies have shown that an extract of yucca reduces the swelling, pain and stiffness of arthritis, though the studies were controversial.

Currently extracts from this plant are in animal feed and various herbal medications. Some reports claim that Native Americans washed their hair with yucca to fight dandruff and hair loss. Among the other maladies this yucca has been used to treat are headaches, bleeding, gonorrhea, arthritis and rheumatism.

Other Uses:
The fibers of the leaves were used by Native Americans to make rope, sandals, and cloth. The flowers and fruit could be eaten and the black seeds were ground into a flour. The roots were used to make soap.  Also used as a natural deodorizer. Used in pet deodorizers.

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.


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