Chaparral is one of the most widespread plants found on the desert floor, and some of them are noted to be the oldest living plants in the world. Expansive areas of these shrubs are found growing throughout the desert in western San Bernardino County, and some near Ridgecrest Ca are estimated to be 11,000 years old. Botanists believe that many of surrounding plants are clones of these original plants. Chaparral is regarded as one of the most adaptable desert plants in the world; as it was one of the first to grow back in Yucca Flats after the 1962 nuclear bomb tests done there.
Also known as the "creosote bush," Larrea tridentata is a flowering
evergreen shrub that's native to Southwestern U.S. and
northern Mexico. One interesting characteristic of this plant is that it
produces a sap that prevents competing species from growing near it. So this is why we usually see just this plant species in Chaparral populated ares. Also, its extremely bitter taste keeps it safe from
animals that would otherwise graze upon it. The common name Chaparral derives from the Spanish chaparro, meaning "evergreen oak," and the name "creosote bush" comes from the smell that the plant exudes when it rains.
As a medicinal herb, Indians of the Southwestern desert regions used the sap as a sunscreen, as the sticky resin is known to screen against ultraviolet radiation. The dried herb, when brewed in tea has been used for numerous aliments and appears to help the body rid itself of parasites as well as chemical toxins. Internal use is not recommended unless under the care of a qualified health care professional. Chaparral contains saponins and medicinal qualities that are especially beneficial to the skin. Applied to the skin, chaparral can have a remarkable healing effect on dandruff, eczema, herpes, cold sores, psoriasis, and contact dermatitis.
I know most people don't consider the creosote/turpentine aroma of the Chaparral pleasant, but non the less, I like to recommend Chaparral for use in herbal shampoos, salves and skin washes as it really is a miracle worker on the skin. Looking for Chaparral Leaf? Find it here in my Local Harvest Store.
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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Jessica Morgan, M. H., Morgan Botanicals.
Disclaimer - The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information in this article for self-diagnosis or to replace any prescriptive medication. You should consult with a health care professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem, suffer from allergies, are pregnant or nursing.
Jessica Morgan, M.H.