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
Yerba santa: 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.

Yerba santa: 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.