Sticky evergreen shrub growing to 8 ft (2.5 m). Its narrow lance-shaped leaves are shiny green on the upper side and hairy white underneath. Trumpet-shaped white or blue flowers grow in clusters.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to California and Oregon in the U.S., and northern Mexico, yerba santa flourishes on dry mountain slopes. It grows at altitudes of up to 3,900 ft (1,200 m).
Yerba santa contains a volatile oil, flavonoids (including eriodictyol), and resin.
History & Folklore
The name yerba santa (holy weed) was given to this plant by Spanish colonists who learned of its medicinal virtues from Native Americans. Traditionally, the leaves were infused and taken for coughs, colds, sore throats, mucus, and asthma. The infusion was also used as a wash to ease fever, and the mashed leaves were applied as a poultice to treat sores.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
An aromatic herb with a pleasant sweet taste, yerba santa is a valuable expectorant that can be used to treat tracheitis, bronchitis, and asthma, and similar respiratory tract ailments.