Cultural Plants

Local plants were of incredible importance to Native American tribes and early settlers alike, for both medicinal and nutritional purposes.  Hospitals and doctors are a modern day luxury. When this land was settled, people had to rely on the curandero or curandera(healer), sobador or sobadora(chiropractor), partera(midwife) as well as the arbulario, who could reverse spells cast by a brujo or bruja(witch).

The curandero know what kinds of herbs and teas would heal ailments.

  • For colds one would be prescribed poleo(spearmint) and yerba Buena(peppermint).
  • For coughs anis and piloncillo(brown sugar in pylon shaped cakes)
  • For stomach troubles one would take osha(root of wild celery), manzanilla(chamomile), Mariola(sage), cilantro and café con canela(coffee with cinnamon)
  • For colic an infant would be given manzanilla and romero(rosemary)
  • For rheumatism one would take plumajillo(sneeze-weed) and te dela abuela(grandmother’s tea)

Yerba de la negrita(bristly mallow)  was given for ulcers Plants high in Iron were given to women after childbirth: yerba de las golondrinas(spurge), altamisa(wormwood) and capulin(chokecherry) Osha was mixed with lard to help heal cuts Rosa de castilla was used for sore throats and oregano with sugar and boiling water was used for coughs.

Capulin–Chokecherry–Prunus Virginiana
The fruit of a willow type tree is very important to the cultures of the southwest. It is a small cherry, dark purple or black in color. In late summer, when ripe it is commonly used to make jams, jellies or while by the Spanish people. Indios dried the fruit for winter use. Fruits were pounded into dried cakes,  for later use.

Morada de Suello–Wild Strawberry–Fragania Ovalis
this are similar to garden strawberries but smaller. Fruit can be eaten raw or made into pies, jams or jellies. Leaves are used to brew and excellent tea. L low ground plant with hardy stems showing above ground. Runners are visible; leaves in slots of three; flowers with white petals.

Cola de Gato–Cattail–Typha Latifolia
A perennial plant with thick underground rootstocks;stems 3.5 ft to 8ft.; leaves 1/4 inch to 1 inch wide; fruits seed like, bearing hairs, found in marshes. Rootstalks can be eaten at any time; outer peel removed can be eaten raw, boiled or baked. Flour can be made by grinding dry rootstalks; leaves are excellent for weaving, down stuffed into shoes to prevent frostbite. Roots are pounded and mixed with animal fat for burn salve.

Pinon–Pinon Pine–Pinus Edulis
Most generally found in the foothills from 4,500 ft. to 7,500 ft.  “Pinion” the seeds produced by this tree are very important to the cultures of the Spanishand Indian people of the Southwest. Source of wood fuel.

Quelitas–Lambs Quarters–Chenopodium Berlandieri
This familiar plant grows in gardens and other irrigated soils. During spring it is gathered and the leaves are cooked as greens and sometimes chili seeds are added for more flavor.

Champes–Wild Rose–Ribes Montigenum
The fruit is the product of the Rosa de Costilla bush. the bush is spinny and produces a beautiful pink flower which forms the Champe. The Champe is used to make jam, jellies and wine. It is a high source of vitamin C. The fruit is picked when ripe at which time it has a deep red color.

Garambuyo–Gooseberry–Ribes monteigenum
The berries from this plant are tasty and nutritious. The are used for making pies, jams and jellies. The plant is a bush that is found along creek banks or other areas where there is good moisture. The flower bloom in early spring and the fruit is picked in late summer when the berries are a dark purple in color.

Verdologas–Purslane–Portulaca Oleracea
A plant that grows against the ground in mat formation which was used as a form of spinach. These plants must be picked while young and tender. they are fired, onion and chili seed often added for flavor.

A bright green leafy plant with mint flavor and odor that grows along creek banks and other areas with good moisture. the Poleo plant is known as a cold treatment plant. It is generally gathered in mid summer when it is nice and leafy; it can be used fresh but is most generally dried and stored for winter use. it is most commonly boiled and used as a tea to treat sore throats, fevers and other cold related illnesses.

Nopal–Prickly Pear Cactus–Optuna SPPT
Thick fleshy plant that grows close to the ground, stems in joints bearing many sharp needle spines. This plant grows in dry areas. The fruit can be eaten raw after peeling and removing seeds. Stems are also used raw or cooked. When feed was scarce the early Spanish sheep herders used Nopal as stock feed by burning of the spines with oak torches.

Lemitas–Squabush–Rhus Trilobata
A bush plant growing in clusters, sometimes as high as ten feet, produce small groups of berries which have a sharp lime taste. The berries are used to make lime drink and the roots of the lemita bush are made into a shampoo to prevent baldness.

Cebolla–Wild Onion–Alllium Cernuum
More fully known as Cebillita del Campo is a small plant with onion odor growing underground bulbs 1/3 to 3/4 inches in diameter. Bulbs or leaves used to flavor soups, stews and meats. Juice boiled down to think syrup for colds and throat irritations. Indios used juice on insect bites and as insect repellent.