Yerba Santa in bulk
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Eriodictyon californicum

yerba santa

plant overview
Holy holder of water

Yerba santa is a shrub-like evergreen in the waterleaf family that grows abundantly in the dry hills of Northern Mexico and California. The plant is also known as Bear's Weed, Consumptive's Weed, Gum Bush and, as its name literally translates to in Spanish, Holy Herb. Although the dark green leaves of the plant are leathery and not particularly aromatic, they become brittle when dried and develop a balsamic flavor. Because the plant has the ability to draw and store reserves of water from its arid environment, its leaves have a high mucilage content. Historically, yerba santa is used to produce teas, tonics, syrups and alcohol-based tinctures.

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Yerba santa
A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information on yerba santa

The plant Eriodictyon californicum is a species within the Hydrophyllaceae family.

Yerba santa grows as a shrub one to three meters tall, and is typically found in clonal stands. A sticky resin coats the smaller branches and foliage which are often dusted with black fungi. Yerba santa is known to be an occasional source of nutrition for grazing wildlife and livestock.

Its narrow leaves are approximately 15 centimeters long and somewhat lance-shaped. They have an odor generally considered unpleasant and a bitter taste. The plant's inflorescence is a cluster of bell-shaped white to purplish flowers. Each flower growing between one and two centimeters in length.

common names & nomenclature
Yerba santa is Spanish for “holy weed” or “holy herb.” Whereas Eriodictyon is a Greek compound word meaning “woolly net". This refers to the leaves' fuzzy underside.

Also known as:
yerba santa, mountain balm, bear's weed, consumptive's weed, gum bush

Yerba Santa, the holy holder of water
Where in the World
habitat and range for yerba santa

Eriodictyon californicum is native to California and Oregon, where it grows in several types of habitats.

Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting yerba santa

The Yerba santa plant grows in several types of habitats, including chaparral (shrubby and bushed areas), Coast redwood forests, and dry mountain slopes in full sun. Yerba santa can become dominant on range lands, since livestock will consume other flora before approaching yerba santa.

Prefers a well-drained sandy soil.

Sow seed in spring in a greenhouse. Transplant out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow on the young plants in a greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant out in late spring or early summer. Give some protection from the cold for at least their first couple of winters outdoors.

The leaves are harvested in the summer and dried for later use.

Store the dried yerba santa leaves in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

for educational purposes only

This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

please be advised: 
Before making any changes to your diet you should always consult with your doctor,
especially if you are pregnant, nursing or have existing conditions.