Hedeoma or American pennyroyal.–pictured here is hedeoma, skullcap and venus looking glass. The pinkish tops are the hedeoma
Pennyroyal is said to be from Latin puleium, or pulegium regium (so called as being good against fleas), do not confuse with the European Pennyroyal, Mentha pulgeum, though as found here http://www.henriettesherbal.com/eclectic/bpc1911/hedeoma.html on Henrietta Kress’s Site I love so much, it has some similiarities.
It is in the in Mint, or Lamiacaeae family
Description: We have a couple of species growing wild in Central Texas. I have seen a much larger showing of the plants this spring than others.. Our Hedeomas are delicate, low growing annuals and perennials found in open meadows. Hedeoma has small, simple, opposite leaves, growing up its stem and tiny pink irregular flowers. One of the most distinctive characteristics is the pungeant lemony smell the foliage produces upon contact.
Harvest: Typically in central texas these plants are not abundant enough to harvest. If you were to propagate them, they are best harvested in spring.
Historical Use: Iroquois, steeped Pennyroyal leaves and drank the resulting tea to cure headaches. As a domestic American medicine it was used to induce sweating in the early stages of colds. It was also employed to promote menstruation, and with brewer’s yeast and raw linseed oil dress burns. It was used to check nosebleeds when drinking the tea while taking a hot bath. More Recent scientific findings show that it can act as a an aromatic stimulant, helping to relieve indigestion, as well as bring on boggy menstrual flow.
Modern Use: Small amounts of the tea or tincture can actually act as a uterine tonic. It is not safe for use during pregnancy. American pennyroyal is most known as an insect repellent now. Recent research has shown that hedeoma may be helpful against houseflies. News to me and I cant wait to try it.
Because of its effect on menstruation, a few women have attempted home abortions by drinking pennyroyal oil and they died. Straight Essential oils of any kind should not be ingested. Essential oils are created from many pounds of plant material. It is not safe.
We have a few species of Hedeoma in Central Texas I am just getting to know. The Essential OIls vary from species to species. I have begun putting the tincture into my Bug Sprays. So far its not helping against fleas but I am still hopeful….
When used properly American pennyroyal is a sweet lemony addition to our medicine cabinets, shooing flies and helping to encourage production of secretions in the body.