Bioregional Herbalism: Important Wild & Weedy Herbal Allies of Central Texas

The most common expression I hear when people try to make sense of gardening in Texas is: “Texas is weird”. It is!  Its unpredictable and extreme. When its hot, it gets really hot. When its dry it gets really dry. If and when we get water, many times its a flood.   If and when it gets cold, the temperatures can swing far below zero if they want. Our landscape is one of big wide open vistas, gorgeous expanses of wildflowers covering 100s of acres of open land in the spring pockmarked by hidden springs, limestone caverns and shrubby trees.  There isnt much elevation change but the stars and sunsets are as extreme as the weather. We suffer through 8 months of heat for 4 months of nice weather in winters, so the plants we align with as herbalists need to be able to ride the same seasonal shifts. The plants and the people here are tough and have multiple ways to protect or prepare themselves for the terrain.  Plants withstand extremes with adaptive techniques like thorns, being succulent and hydroscopic, growing close to the ground, hairy leaves, and dying back when needed. Trying to use herb books from other bioregions can be frustrating and to put it simply, they dont work. Please enjoy this selection of some of our wild and weedy Central Texas herbal allies.  I have included a free download of this selection for you to get started with!

If you want more, you can check out my book at the link with over 140 central texas allies, The Medicinal Plants of Texas

Agarita Mahonia trifoliolata


AGARITA Berberis/Mahonia trifoliolata 

Native Shrub- harvest from fencerows and as rescues. Great to grow for wildscapes, xeriscapes. Prickly! Use woody parts and leaves.

Energetics: Cooling and Drying

Actions: Anti-microbial, bitter, liver stimulant, astringent

Uses: Disinfectant topically for wounds and used internally to kill gut infections, relieve spasms and constipation. 

Reminds us: Its not whats on the outside, its whats on the inside


BEE BALM

Monarda citriodora et al

 Drought tolerant Native annual wildflower that blooms in early summer.  Seed in your garden in late fall, full sun good for wildscape or garden to repel bugs.


Energetics: Warming and drying relaxant


Actions: Aromatic, topical disinfectant,antifungal, Astringent and drawing


Uses: In honey for sore throats, topically for fungal infections, especially genital.  Teas to draw heat out of body, help break a fever.


Reminds us: flow with it and let it out. Suppressing things only leads to more problems

Chickweed Stellaria media


CHICKWEED

Stellaria media 

Invasive annual weed in late winter and early spring, collect around edges of pesticide free yards and fields.  Not recommended to plant, it generally can do fine on its own.


Energetics: Cooling and moistening


Actions: Nutritive, Anti-inflammatory, Astringent


Uses: As a food in salads, smoothies, and pestos.  In oil, wilted, for inflammatory conditions.


Reminds us: The littlest bird has the prettiest song…Jolie Holland’s words

Cleavers Galium aparine

CLEAVERS Gallium spp

Herbaceous vining annual weed, comes out in early spring all over fencerows and garden beds.


Energetics: Cooling and Drying


Actions: lymphagogue, urinary tonic, astringent


Uses: Urinary tract infections, bogginess in lymph from allergies or infections, allergies


Reminds us: dont get wrapped up with what you think you know, open your mind to possibility

JUNIPER Juniperus ashei et al. 

Native shrubby trees.  Better to harvest from wild than plant due to males being allergens. Harvest berries in early spring as they fall, or branches throughout the year.  


Energetics: Warming and drying


Actions: Aromatic,  urinary tract astringent, digestive, rubefacient, circulatory stimulant, antimicrobial


Uses: Urinary tract infections, protein digestion, aches and pains topically, fungal infections


Reminds us: Hold tight, hunker down, trust yourself and you will get through it 

Passionflower Passiflora so

PASSIONFLOWER

Passiflora spp 

Native and weedy vines for arbors/trellises, fences with gorgeous flowers. Perennial that blooms in midsummer to fall and dies back in freezes.


Energetics: Cooling and Drying relaxant


Actions: Calming, and hypnotic affects the cardiovascular system, glands,  and nervous system.


Uses: Anxiety, insomnia, heart palpitations

Reminds us: Be patient, and move slowly through complications and you will find the path out

Cactus Pad Opuntia sp


PRICKLY PEAR

Opuntia spp 

Native shrubby weed and will spread as one, contain in wildscapes/xeriscapes.  Harvest pads, fruits, and flowers.


Energetics: Cooling and moistening


Actions:Regulates blood sugar, Demulcent, Astringent


Uses: Balancing blood sugar, wounds, indigestion


Reminds us to protect our tenderness but also use it when its needed


 RAGWEED Ambrosia trifida et al

Native herbaceous wildflower.  Weedy and invasive, better to collect in the wild than plant. Pollen is a Allergen!  


Energetics: Warming and Drying


Actions: Antimicrobial, antihistamine, decongestant


Uses: For seasonal allergies, opens sinuses and helps prevent allergic response


Reminds us: The problem can also be the solution.  


VERVAIN

Verbena sp/Glandularia bipinnatifida 

Native wildflowers with one invasive species.  Great addition to xeriscape/wildscape- flowers thruout year


Energetics: Warming and drying relaxant


Actions: Diaphoretic, bitter, calming sedative to the nervous, glandular,  and digestive systems


Uses: Feelings of overwhelm, irritation, heat, hot flashes, anxiety


Reminds us: go where your heart needs to be not where you are told to be

Achillea millefolium


YARROW Achillea millefolium : 

Weedy perennial wildflower Grows well in garden or xeriscape no help needed but should be contained from taking over a garden bed!


Energetics: Cooling, and Drying


Actions: styptic, antinflammatory, diaphoretic, aromatic, analgesic, circulatory tonic


Uses: toothaches, menstrual cramps, excess bleeding, bruising, bleeding and inflamed wounds, radiation treatment


Reminds us:  solutions can be gotten to from seemingly contradictory paths

10-Wild-and-Weedy-Herbs-of-Texas

Want more? Buy my book on the Medicinal Plants of Texas

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