grindeliaintegrfoliaCommon name: gumweed

Scientific name: Grindelia integrifolia

Plant family: Asteraceae (Sunflower)

Description: Grindelia integrifolia is an herbaceous perennial.  Leaves can get up to 40cm in length and are resin-dotted. They are lance-shaped, alternate and they clasp at the base.  The flowers are yellow disks with normally 10-35 pedals.  There is a sticky glandular on them and the heads are hemispheric.  The fruits on the plant have 2 to several firm but deciduous awns.  It’s a perennial herb that has a stout branched stem-base.  The leaves are often hairy. Grindelia integrifolia can grow from 15-80cm tall.

Habitat and Range: G. integrifolia grows in rocky beach areas and salty marshes.  It is common in marine habitats but also grows in moist open meadows like those of the Willamette Valley.  It grows in the entire United States and Southern Canada.[1]

Historical and Contemporary Uses: Grindelia integrifolia is used by Native Americans all over the Northwest but it is most prominently used by the Pomo as a form of glue.  The leaves, fresh or dried, can be steeped in water and used as a bitter tea.  Indigenous people of North America use it as a treatment for bronchial problems and any skin irritations like a reaction from poison ivy and poison oak.  It is believed to decentralize the nerve endings on the bronchial tree and slow the heart rate, which makes for easier breathing.  It was a simple remedy for asthma and can help with kidney and heart irritations.

The dried leaves and flowers of Grindelia integrifolia are anti-inflammatory and a sedative and can treat even severe cases of whooping cough.  The plant must be harvested while it is in full bloom for it to be used medicinally.  A liquid extract is prepared when the fresh leaves and flowers are put in a certain amount of simmering water for 15 minutes.  This allows the extract to be spread on irritations as a paste form.   Historically, Spanish New Mexicans would drink an extract that was derived of boiling 3 flower buds 3 times in 3 pints of water, this was done until there was one pint left.  They would drink one full glass 3 times a day to help with any kidney problems.  When all the usable parts were gone they would use the stems as brooms.[2]

[1] Pojar, Jim, Andrew MacKinnon, and Paul B. Alaback. 1994.  Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Lone Pine Publishing.