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Anemopsis californica | by wallygrom
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Anemopsis californica

A June day at Kew Gardens ...


The monotypic genus Anemopsis has only one species, Anemopsis californica (Nutt.) Hook. & Arn., with the common names Yerba mansa or lizard tail.


It is a perennial flowering plant within the family Saururaceae, native to southwestern North America in Northwest Mexico and the Southwestern United States from California to Texas to Kansas to Oregon.


From Dr Soule's book on herbs of the southwestern USA ...


"Yerba mansa is one of those names which confounds linguists. Yerba is Spanish for herb, and thus one would think that mansa is also from Spanish as well, but all indications point to the fact that it is not. Mansa means tame, peaceful, calm in Spanish, and the plant has no sedative effect, nor did local people ever use it as a calming agent. Its primary use is as an antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal. The most likely explanation is that mansa is a Spanish alteration of the original native word for the plant, now lost in the depths of time"


Hartweg, who collected it at León, Guanajuato in 1837, recorded the local name as "Yerba del manso".


Yerba mansa is used as an antimicrobial, an antibacterial, and to treat vaginal candidiasis.


Yerba mansa is used to treat inflammation of the mucous membranes, swollen gums and sore throat. An infusion of roots can be taken as a diuretic to treat rheumatic diseases like gout by ridding the body of excess uric acid, which causes painful inflammation of the joints. Yerba mansa prevents the buildup of uric acid crystals in the kidneys which could cause kidney stones if left untreated. A powder of dried root can be sprinkled on infected areas to alleviate athlete's foot or diaper rash.


Yerba mansa is versatile, it can be taken orally as a tea, tincture, infusion or dried in capsule form. It can be used externally for soaking inflamed or infected areas. It can be ground and used as a dusting powder. Some people in Las Cruces, New Mexico use the leaves to make a poultice to relieve muscle swelling and inflammation.


Dried floral structures are used in dried arrangements.


Dried plant parts, (leaves, floral structure) emit a spicy fragrance and are used in potpourri.


In the deserts of California yerba mansa is being used as turf in public parks and ground cover in gardens.

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Taken on June 14, 2014