Plant of the day: alum root

Heuchera_micrantha-3Tall, delicate sprays of tiny white flowers bloom from a shaded crevice of rock. Large scalloped leaves grow abundantly around the base of each stem. This is alum root (Heuchera micrantha), a member of the saxifrage family that was used for a wide variety of medicines by native Californians.

The minute flowers are lovely and intricate, with thin narrow petals that curl backwards around the white sepals like ribbons on a gift. Long white stamens are tipped with rust-red anthers.

The root of alum root was taken for sore throats, boils and liver troubles. Roots and leaves were chewed up and spat onto the skin, or mixed into a poultice along with Douglas fir sap, as a topical treatment for wounds. Leaves and stems were pounded and rubbed on the scalp to make hair grow, and also eaten for food–either boiled or steamed.  Heuchera_micrantha-2Heuchera_micrantha

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Filed under Edible, Medicinal, Native, Plant of the day

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