Trapper's Tea
Ledum glandulosum Nutt.
Family: Ericaceae, Heath
Genus: Ledum
Synonyms:
Other names: western Labrador tea
Nomenclature: glandulosum = glandular
Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
Edible plant
Medicinal plant
Description

General: evergreen shrub, mostly 40-80 cm tall, twigs short-hairy and glandular-dotted.

Leaves: alternate, 1.5-4 cm long, ovate and rounded at base to oblong-ovate, elliptic-oblong, or elliptic and tapering to base, deep green on upper surfaces, lighter green and often grayish, finely mealy-short-hairy, densely glandular and occasionally short-hairy on the lower surfaces, more or less with edges rolled under.

Flowers: white, 10-15 mm wide, several in dense, rounded clusters at stem tips. Flower stalks mostly 1-2 cm long, short-hairy near the base. Petals 5, broad, rounded, spreading. Stamens (5) 8-12, usually considerably longer than the style, the filaments densely hairy on the lower half. June-August.

Fruits: capsules, nodding, from nearly round to ovoid, 3-5 mm long, short-hairy and glandular, on 1-2 cm long stalks.


Distribution

Moist to wet, open or wooded sites, montane to subalpine zone, in w and c. parts of MT. Also from B.C. to e. WA, n.e. OR, CA, ID and in n.w. WY.
Edible Uses

An aromatic tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves of Trapper's tea. The dried leaves are often mixed with non-aromatic leaves such as comfrey. The plant contains a narcotic toxin called ledel. This toxin only causes problems if the leaves are cooked for a long period in a closed container. Some caution is advised. It would be better to brew the tea in cold water by leaving it in a sunny place, or to make sure that it is brewed for a short time only in an open container. The leaves are used as a flavoring, they are a bayleaf substitute. The fresh leaves can be chewed.



Medicinal Uses

The leaves and young flowering shoots have agents that are laxative, cause tissue to contract, induce sweating and urination, and give strength and tone to the stomach.


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