Synonyms: Other names: curlycup gumweed, rosin weed Nomenclature: squarrosa = curved at the ends (bracts) Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
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General: aromatic plant, 20-60 cm tall. Growth habit: biennial or short-lived perennial from taproot, branching from base, often growing in patches. Stems: hairless, with many upper branches.
Leaves: oblong, 10-35 mm long and 6-12 mm wide, hairless, with small, hardened teeth, to sometimes more coarsely toothed or even entire, often dotted with resinous glands. Middle and upper leaves mostly clasping.
Flowerheads: yellow with 25-40 rays that are about 7-15 mm long. The disk is 1-2 cm wide. Involucre strongly resinous, with several overlapping rows of backward-curling bracts. Many heads growing in flat-topped clusters.
Fruits: achenes, 4-5-ribbed, without 2 knobs on top of margin. Pappus of 2 or 3 slender bristles, soon dropped.
Common in dry, open places in all parts of MT. Also from BC to MN and s. to CA and TX.
The fresh or dried leaves of gumweed can be used to make an aromatic, slightly bitter but pleasing tea. The plant was used by the native North American Indians to treat bronchial problems and also skin afflictions such as reactions to poison ivy. It is still used in modern herbalism where it is valued especially as a treatment for bronchial asthma and for states where phlegm in the airways impedes respiration. In addition, it is believed to desensitize the nerve endings in the bronchial tree and slow the heart rate, thus leading to easier breathing. The plant merits investigation as a treatment for asthma. The herb is contraindicated for patients with kidney or heart complaints. The dried leaves and flowering tops are antiasthmatic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, expectorant and sedative. The principal use of this herb is in the treatment of bronchial catarrh, especially when there is an asthmatic tendency, it is also used to treat whooping cough and cystitis. The active principle is excreted from the kidneys, and this sometimes produces signs of renal irritation. Externally, the plant is used as a poultice to treat burns, poison ivy rash, dermatitis, eczema and skin eruptions. The plant is harvested when in full bloom and can be used fresh as a poultice or dried for infusions etc. A fluid extract is prepared by placing the freshly gathered leaves and flowers in a small quantity of simmering water for about 15 minutes. A homeopathic remedy is prepared from the leaves and flowering stems. In earlier times curlycup gumweed had medicinal uses. Spanish New Mexicans would drink an extract made from boiling three flower buds three times in three pints of water until only one pint was left. They would drink a glassful three times daily for kidney problems. Others used gumweed extracts to treat a wide range of ailments from skin troubles to rheumatic pains. Curlycup gumweed was used by the North American Indian people for various purposes: gummy secretions were used to relieve asthma, bronchitis and colic. A boiled extract of leaves and/or flowering tops relieved saddle sores and raw skin, it was consumed as tea in an attempt to cure tuberculosis. As tea it was used to relieve coughs, as an expectorant and to treat dizziness. The crushed flowers were used to make poultices for treating poison ivy. The sticky sap was chewed as gum. Leafless stems would be used as brooms. In modern medicine, extracts of the leaves and buds are used to treat whooping cough and asthma.
var. quasiperennis Lunell: Leaves entire or remotely sharply small-toothed, or, especially the lower, coarsely and irregularly toothed or somewhat pinnatifid, mostly short-lived perennials.
var. squarrosa (Pursh) Dunal: Upper and middle leaves 2-4 times as long as wide, mostly ovate or oblong. Leaves closely and evenly sharply small-toothed, mostly biennials.
var. serrulata (Rydb.) Steyermark: Upper and middle leaves 5-8 times as long as wide, mostly linear-oblong to oblanceolate. Leaves closely and evenly sharply small-toothed, mostly biennials.
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