Eriodictyon californicum

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Eriodictyon californicum
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Boraginales
Family: Boraginaceae
Genus: Eriodictyon
Species: E. californicum
Binomial name
Eriodictyon californicum
(Hook. & Arn.) Torr.

Wigandia californica Hook. & Arn. (basionym)[1]

Eriodictyon californicum is a species of plant within the Boraginaceae family. It is also known as yerba santa, mountain balm, consumptive's weed and bear weed.[2]


It is native to California and Oregon, where it grows in several types of habitats, including chaparral and Coast redwood forests.


Eriodictyon californicum is a shrub growing one to three meters tall, typically found in clonal stands. The smaller branches and foliage are coated in a sticky resin and are often dusted with black fungi, Heterosporium californicum. The shrub is known to be an occasional source of nutrition for wildlife and livestock.[3] The narrow, long leaves are somewhat lance-shaped and up to 15 centimeters in length. They have an odor generally considered unpleasant and a bitter taste, making them unpalatable to most animals,[3] although it does have multiple insect herbivores. For example, it is the primary nectar source for Variable Checkerspot butterflies in the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve in California.[4] The inflorescence is a cluster of bell-shaped white to purplish flowers, each between one and two centimeters in length.


When first described, it was placed in genus Wigandia, so its basionym is Wigandia californica.[1]

Traditional medicine[edit]

The leaves have historically been used to treat asthma, upper respiratory infections and allergic rhinitis.[3] The Concow tribe calls the plant wä-sä-got’-ō (Konkow language)[5] The Chumash used it as a poultice for wounds, insect bites, broken bones, and sores. It was also used in a steam bath to treat hemorrhoids.[6]

Food use[edit]

Eriodictyol is one of the 4 flavanones identified in this plant by the Symrise Corporation as having taste-modifying properties, the other three being: homoeriodictyol, its sodium salt and sterubin.[7] These compounds have potential uses in food and pharmaceutical industry to mask bitter taste.

Environmental use[edit]

This species of shrub is used for revegetating damaged or disturbed lands, such as overgrazed rangeland.[3] It is, however, strongly fire-adapted, sprouting from rhizomes after wildfire and developing a waxy film of flammable resins on its foliage.[3]


Eriodictyon californicum is a specific Papilio eurymedon butterfly food and habitat plant.


  1. ^ a b  Wigandia californica, the basionym for Eriodictyon californicum was first described and published in The Botany of Captain Beechey's Voyage 364, pl. 88. 1839. "Name - Wigandia californica Hook. & Arn.". Tropicos. Saint Louis, Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved May 23, 2011. Annotation: as 'Californica'  
  2. ^ Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz. Yerba Santa Eriodictyon californicum. Flower Essence Society.
  3. ^ a b c d e Forest Service Fire Ecology
  4. ^ Murphy, Dennis D., Marian S. Menninger, and Paul R. Ehrlich. "Nectar Source Distribution as a Determinant of Oviposition Host Species in Euphydryas Chalcedona." Oecologia 62.2 (1984): 269-71.
  5. ^ Chesnut, Victor King (1902). Plants used by the Indians of Mendocino County, California. Government Printing Office. p. 408. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "Using Santa Barbara's Yerba Santa to Treat Cold, Flu, and Cough". Retrieved 2012.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  7. ^ Ley, JP; Krammer, G; Reinders, G; Gatfield, IL; Bertram, HJ (2005). "Evaluation of bitter masking flavanones from Herba Santa (Eriodictyon californicum (H. And A.) Torr., Hydrophyllaceae)". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 53 (15): 6061–6. doi:10.1021/jf0505170. PMID 16028996. 

External links[edit]