Thirty years ago now, the residents of Barron Park, which was not then part of the City of Palo Alto, bought from the Bol Estate, under a bond issue, the land which became the nucleus of Bol Park (inner Bol Park). As a gift to the Neighborhood, Ken Arutunian, landscaped this area. This section of Bol Park is under the City of Palo Alto Parks Department.

Slightly later the Neighborhood was lucky enough to acquire the old SP railroad track and this was landscaped by Jack Buktenica. This section of Bol Park is under the City of Palo Alto Open Space Division. Much of this area and also Buktenica's work was destroyed when the Matadero bypass was constructed.

Just prior to this construction there was a tree marking walk through and under the leadership of Doug Graham, it was decided that we would attempt to restore the area using Native Plants, including fodder, such as berries, for our wildlife. In addition, we would attempt to plant a large variety of native plants, so that the children and adults of the area would have easy access to view these plants. It was also decided that the plants would be marked both with their English and Latin names and eventually maps would be drawn up and data on the traditional uses of the plants would be made available to the Neighborhood.

The project as a whole, has a long way to go to completion. I remember my horror when I discovered the SCVWD contractor had taken our adobe soil (hard enough to grow anything in) and compacted it!!! Then there was the day Mickey (our then donkey) got sprayed bright green by another contractor!!! There have been vandals that pulled up plants and others that pruned young trees for unknown purposes.

PLEASE DO NOT PICK THE FLOWERS AND BERRIES, PLEASE LEAVE OUR TREES TO GROW UNDISTURBED. Particularly during the last two summers, we have lost too many plants to vandals. Grown plants have a chance to survive these "attacks", but the young plants need to establish themselves. We lost some plants from, believe it or not, over-watering by the SCVWD. Also due to (?) some of our established trees died back severely and became large shrubs (for the time being), thus turning heavy shade into bright sun for a fairly large number of new plants. There will be a replant with species that can tolerate both shade and sun, since the trees/shrubs are growing again! And yes, mea culpa, I did not get out to water as much as I should have. The watering is to establish the young plants and then the mature plants can, for the most part, take care of themselves.

For the Native Plants in our area, there are several key reference books. The most detailed are: Jepson, Willis L. - Manual of Flowering Plants of California Munz, Philip A. - California Flora but my own two favorites are: Thomas, John Hunter - Flora of the Santa Cruz Mountains of California and a lovely little fairly detailed manual put out by the Las Pilitas Nursery. I bought the hard copy (under $10), but it is also on line at . This site has other interesting data on it, such as butterfly habitats.

The pictures for all of the plants described can be seen at and

One of my main references for plant uses was: Moore, Michael - Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West.

The Nurseries which we have used to the greatest extent for the Bol Park plantings are in alphabetical order: Baylands Nursery (who have special ordered for us)
Christensen Nursery
Las Pilitas Nursery
Native Revival Nursery
plus several others for bulbs and seeds.

ACER spp. (Acer macrophyllum & Acer negundo var. californicum) - Big Leaf Maple & Box Elder.

Some of the local tribes used the inner bark of the Big Leaf Maple for making baskets, whereas the Box Elder was used for sugar making and food seasoning.

ALDER, WHITE - Alnus rhombifolia

This is a nitrogen fixing plant and if "kept happy" it should do well. The English Alder (Alnus glutinosa) bark was used to make dyes and also as a gargle for sore throats and mouth infections. Poultices made from the leaves were applied to ease swellings, inflammations and rheumatic pains.

ALUM ROOT - Heuchera maxima & H. micrantha

The local tribes steeped the roots from these plants and used the liquid as an eyewash and a mouthwash for sore throats and gums. The roots were also made into poultices for sores and swellings. The powdered roots were used to stop bleeding. The dried leaves or root slices were used by the settlers as additions to pickled fruits and vegetables to keep them crisp and colorful.


This herb was used by the local tribes and settlers as a "cure" for many ailments. A tea made from the roots was used for pleurisy, lung congestion, colds and stomach ulcers. The bark was collected in the Fall and from this teas and washes were made. The tea was given for ulcers and the washes were used on external sores. The roots were also dried and powdered and used directly on knife wounds and venereal sores on humans and sores and cuts on livestock too. The settlers used the spicy tea made from this plant as an aid for rheumatoid arthritis.


It should be remembered that many of these may be "crosses" and some will only appear when we reseed in years to come.

COLUMBINE (Aquilegia exima & A. formosa) The seeds from some species of these plants were crushed and the perfume generated was used by males as a "love charm". The California tribes mashed the seeds of Aquilegia formosa and rubbed them in their hair to discourage head lice (and perhaps smell "good"?).

GOLDFIELDS (Baeria chrysostoma) The local tribes collected the edible seeds in June, parched them, ground them up into a flour and used it in a mush.

OWL'S CLOVER (Castilleja exserta) Some species were used as decorations. Whereas, some tribes used small amounts of a solution from boiled roots as a cure for veneral diseases.

CLARKIA spp. (Clarkia amoena, C. concinna, C. unguiculata & Clarkia spp.) Used for decoration.

CHINESE HOUSES (Collinsia heterophyllia) Used for decoration. Usually very "showy".

GILIA (Gilia capitata, G. tricolor, Gilia spp.) The seeds of the Gilia staminea were eaten by the tribes in California.

GOLD FIELDS (Lasthenia glabrata) The local tribal women gathered the dark elongated seeds from May through July. The seeds were parched, eaten dry or ground into flour and made into a mush.

TIDY TIPS (Layia glandulosa) The local tribes gathered the seeds from this plant from June to August, ground them into a flour and cooked them with other ground seeds into a mush.

LUPINES (Lupinus arboreus, L. bicolor, L. densiflorus, L. nanus, L. succulentis and Lupinus spp.) Lupinus arboreus is an aggresive seeder, L. bicolor is used in revegetation mixes, L. densiflorus can grow to be 2 feet wide by a foot high, L. nanus can cover large areas, whereas L. succulentis is a good bank stabilizer. Some species of lupines contain alkaloid poisons, which have been responsible for livestock deaths and poisonings in man. Since it is often hard to tell the "goodies" from the "badies", it is best just to use them as nitrogen fixers and grow them for their beauty.

BLAZING STAR (Mentzelia lindleyi & Mentzelia spp.) The local tribal women collected seeds from these plants from February through October, depending on species. The seeds were parched and ground into a flour for making mush. A tea was made from the leaves to relieve stomach pains and as a wash for skin diseases. The oily seeds from Mentzelia albicaulis were pounded by some California tribes and made into a kind of cake (pinole mantica).

MONKEY FLOWERS (Mimulus aurantiacus, M. cardinalis M. guttatus, M. pilosus ) The leaves from Mimulus guttatus and other Mimulus species were to some extent used by both the tribes and the settlers as a substitute for lettuce. The ash from the leaves was sometimes used as a source of salt.

BABY BLUE EYES (Nemophila menziesii) These should be grown with California Poppies, they look delicate, but are not!

PENSTEMONS (Penstemon heterophyllus prudyi) These plants attract humming birds. The local tribes and the early settlers seem to have used these plants for decoration.

BEE FOOD (Phacelia campanularia, P. minor & P. tanacetifolia) The leaves from Phacelia tanacetifolia and perhaps some other species, were used by the California tribes as "greens". These plants were cultivated as a honey producing crop.

CALIFORNIA BEE PLANT (Scrophularia californica) In Europe, Scrophularia nodosa is used as a diuretic and externally, on wounds, abscesses and skin eruptions.

CALIFORNIA GOLDENRODS (Solidago californica) The local tribes used this plant for making a hair rinse and for feminine hygiene. The Spanish settlers made a lotion out of the boiled leaves and stems for sores and cuts on man and beast. The powdered leaves were also sprinkled on sores and cuts.

WIND POPPY (Stylomecon heterophylla) An annual, it is one of our uncommon-to-rare plants for this area. If you know of a source of seeds, please let us know.

ARMERIA MARITIMA - California Thrift or Sea Pink or Gilliflower.

In Europe, Armeria vulgaris var. maritima was sometimes used to treat "excessive fatness".

ASH, OREGON & FLOWERING - Fraxinus latifolia & F. dipetal

The English-European Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) was the sacred tree of Norse mythology, "Yggdrasil" (Tree of the World). The bark of this tree was used to make a tonic for fever, rheumatism and liver complaints. The wood of Oregon and Flowering Ash was used by local tribes to make tobacco pipes and also handles for weapons, small tools and walking canes. The fresh roots were made in poultices for wounds, particularly those received in bear fights. The leaves of the Ash are a favorite food of black army worms, which were then eaten by some of the tribes.

BALSAM ROOT ­ Balsamorhiza macrolepis

Some of the tribes, roast and pound the seeds and use them in pinole or bread making, whereas the young shoots are eaten raw or cooked and the inner roots are cooked. The powdered leaves or roots were sometimes used on burns and as a first aid for skin infections, since they contain antifungal constituents.

BAYBERRY, CALIFORNIA, Pacific Bayberry, California Wax Myrtle, Pacific Wax Myrtle ­ Myrica californica

The wax obtained from boiling the fruits was used in candle making. Whereas other parts of this tree have been used in several ways as folk medicine. The peppery leaves have been used for their vasodilating and astringent properties in teas. However, it is the bark and the ground-up roots that have been used most for their medicinal properties. Tinctures were made from either the fresh roots or the dried roots and/or the root bark and/or the bark from other sections of the tree. (PLEASE DON'T USE OUR TREE(S), THEY ARE JUST GETTING STARTED). These diluted tinctures were then used as mouthwashes for inflamed gums - supposed to be very good; and also as as a sore throat gargle, particularly if the throat had been slow to heal. The above tinctures and/or the powdered roots were used externally on slow healing skin ulcers and abrasions. For skin fungus, equal parts of a tincture made from Thuja placata (Red Cedar) and that from the Myrica californica (Bayberry) were mixed and painted on the sores. The bark of this tree also featured in an old patent cold and flu medicine by Samuel Thomson, called, "Thomsonian Composition Powder", made of 60% Bayberry bark, 30% dried ginger root, 5% capsicum (African Cayenne) and 5% cloves. About 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of this powder was added to boiling water, cooled slightly and then sipped.


BARBERRY, CREEPING or OREGON GRAPE - Mahonia/Berberis repens

The local tribes made little use of the custers of small, sour blue berries. However, they gathered the yellow root bark in large quantities to make a tea for treating microbially induced intestinal and stomach troubles and as a "blood purifier" (stimulate liver metabolism). The settlers used these teas too and felt that they also had an influence on thyroid function. Washes made from the roots were used externally for staph infections. The settlers and some tribes gathered the berries and used them (sweetened) for food and even made a wine from them. The acid berries were also made into confections and eaten as an antiscorbutic, under the name mountain grape.


Rubus ursinus is already a long-term resident. Of this California Blackberry, we already have 4 large patches and there was some berry picking in late summer 1999. Both Miner 49er and Perry declared, not Rubus ursinus, but Rubus asinus. I am hoping the crop size and quality will improve in this and coming years since berry picking was a Barron Park community activity for many years. During the Civil War, the blue and grey troops would sometimes declare a truce so that the men could go foraging for blackberries, which were thought to be helpful in preventing dysentery and certain stomache disorders, as well as being good to eat!!! The species which have been planted or which we will attempt to grow include: Rubus leucodermis (Western or White- stemmed Raspberry) Rubus parviflorus velutinus (Thimble Berry) Rubus spectabilis (Salmonberry) Rubus ursinus (California Blackberry) The roots of the Rubus ursinus were made into a tea by the local tribes and used for mild cases of diarrhea. Whereas the leaves were sometimes also used as teas for their Vitamin C and flavonoid content. As in Europe, these teas were considered of use for women during menstruation, late pregnancy and just before and after childbirth. The quality of the berries varies greatly, but most varieties do make good preserves, jellies and syrups. Try some Rubus ursinus (local Barron Park Rubus asinus) preserve next August!!! The steamed young shoots from all the above Rubus species were eaten by the local tribes in the springtime, probably because of their Vitamin C and flavonoid content.

CURRANTS & GOOSEBERRIES - Ribes species, Including: Ribes aureum gracillimum (Bugle Currant) Ribes/Grossularia californicum (Hillside or California Gooseberry); Ribes/Grossularia divaricata (Straggly Gooseberry or Straggle Bush) Ribes malvaceum (Chapparral or California Black Currant); Ribes/Grossularia menziesii (Bay or Canyon Gooseberry) Ribes sanguineum glutinosum (Winter or Pink Flowering Current) Ribes/Grossularia speciosum (Fuchsia Flowering Gooseberry) and Ribes viburnifolium (Evergreen Currant)

The flowers and fruits of the various Ribes species are much loved by bees, bumblebees, monach butterflies, hummingbirds, thrashers, robins, phainopeplas and other birds. The leaves of the Ribes malvaceum (and probably other species too) add a nice taste to peppermint and other teas. The leaves of some species were also used by the local tribes to eat with deer and then later, mutton fat. The size, quality and quantities of the fruits varies greatly. The fresh fruits are eaten by man in many places, but the wildlife often got there first. In some areas the local tribes dried and stored the fruits, as well as eating them fresh. Whereas in others, the fruits were made into intoxicating drinks. The dried fruits where also pounded into dried meats or fish, mixed with fat and made into cakes, for use particularly during hunting, fishing and other expeditions.

ELDERBERRIES, BLUE - Sambucus mexicana

Some early authors call them S. glauca and S. caerulea). These are the the inland lowland blue elderberries, whereas the highland ones, seem mainly to be called S. caerulea now. The local Coastal Red Elderberries are called S. callicarpa. The Sambucus species belong to the honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae). The name is from the Greek "Sambuke", a musical instrument made from Elder wood. The European elderberries (mainly, S. nigra) are fabled for elderberry wine, whereas the name, sambucus is commemorated in the trade name of a salve. Elderberries are one of nature's richest sources of Vitamin C. Traditionally, in California, the berries were eaten raw and/or dried and/or made into a rich unsweetened sauce. The settlers made the berries into jams and jellies and I image, also, elderberry wine. A decoction made from the blossoms and/or the leaves was used externally as a lotion for bruises and sprains, as an antiseptic wash for itching sores and also for open sores, particularly on livestock. Some tribes used the elderberry plant, rather than poison oak, for curing warts. The elderberries blossoms were brewed into a weak medicinal tea for fevers, colds and flu. The tea was traditionally considered to be beneficial for infants and good for the teeth. Older blossoms were considered to be the "best medicine". A tea made from the roots or inner bark was sometimes used for constipation. It was very fast and was used with care. WARNING The roots, stems, leaves and to a lesser extent, the flowers CAN cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea due to some of the plant components. WARNING: Do not eat or use the local white or red berries, leave those for the birds and other wildlife. Elderberry shrubs have been used to make two basket dyes - a yellow or orange dye is made from the stems and a purple or black one from the berries.

GRAPES, CALIFORNIA - Vitis californica

The fruits are purple, about 1/3 inch in diameter and full of seeds. The taste may be tart to sweet depending on the soil. The settlers made good jellies out of the grapes. The grapes were also dried as raisins. The local tribes mainly ate the grapes fresh or dried them. Some of the local tribes used the woody parts of the vines to make rims for their large carrying baskets.


The settlers and the local tribes gathered large quantities of these pea sized berries to consume fresh or make into pies. The fruits were also dried. The fight was on many times, who got there first, humans or birds or squirrels and other animals. The leaves of this plant were used by the locals, to make a tea considered to be of use both for glycosuria and hyperglycemia (lowering of urinary and blood sugar levels).

STRAWBERRIES, CALIFORNIA - Fragaria californica

These fruits, although smaller than the cultivated ones, were eaten fresh by our local tribes. Our plant is spreading rapidly and has started to produce very tiny flowers. The leaves of this plant were used by the settlers to make a mildly diuretic tea, whereas the roots made a tea helpful in cases of diarrhea.

BLADDER POD - Isomeris arboria

The pods of this plant were a source of food for the local tribes. The pods were gathered and cooked in a small hole in the ground with hot stones.

BLUE CURLS, WOOLY or Vinegar or Tar Weed - Trichostema lanatum

This blue-flowered annual, gives off a strong pungent odor, sometimes described as a mix between vinegar and turpentine. This plant was sometimes used as a fish poison by the local tribes. The settlers used the leaves and/or flowering tops as an ordinary herbal tea. They also used the tea as a mild menstrual stimulant. The leaves and flowers of this plant were boiled and made into a tea for the relief of stomach ailments and feverish headaches, by the local tribes. Certain tribes used the tea to help expel the afterbirth in labor. A wash made by soaking the leaves in either cold or hot water was used in cases of typhoid fever and feverish headaches.

BLUE WITCH ­ Solanum Umbelliferum

The fruits and tubers from some of the other Solanum species (Solanum boreale, S. elaeagnifolium, S. fendleri, S. jamesii & S. triflorum) were eaten by the tribes in Arizona and New Mexico, whereas in California the leaves of Solanum douglasii were sometimes used as greens. These are really interesting plants.

BRICKELL BUSH ­ Brickellia californica

The tribes sometimes used the leaves for a tea substitute and a "tonic" of the elderly. This plant has a wonderful frangrance!!!


This handsome shrub produces beautiful white flowering spikes in May. In the Fall, the leathery green seed pouches split open displaying very large sized, mahogany brown nutlike seeds with a white "eye". The hard "shell" of the seed, covers an inner pulp which has the consistency of raw potato. The Buckeye contains a TOXIC principle called aesculin, in all parts of the plant. This aesculin component, imparts a bitter unpleasant taste to the buckeye nuts, thus *usually* warning against consumption of a lethal dose of this POISON, which has some properties akin to strychnine . Children and unknowing adults, have died from consuming too many of these pretty shiny brown seeds. SO DO NOT EAT ANY! There are several references, particularly in the older literature, to bees relying on groves of Buckeyes for nectar gathering and thus producing a bitter toxic honey. When we complained to the Santa Clara Water District that we wanted *no further* Buckeyes planted, we were assured that the hazard was overrated and that our current local bees would not produce toxic honey, since they would gather nectar from a wide range of flowering plants. The California tribes around here, however, did eat the Buckeye nuts, AFTER PROCESSING THEM as follows: The brown coats of the nuts were removed and then the inner nut was roasted in an earth oven. The resultant nut-meal was then placed in baskets and leached in a running stream for up to 10 days. After leaching the final product had a bland taste and the bitterness was gone.

Hogs, as a rule, do not eat Buckeye nuts, but it is a favorite food for squirrels. There are claims that it has been used to expell bot worms from horses. Sheep and cattle nibble at the leaves and cattle seem to grow fat on them. However, if driven over a distance, the cattle lose their flesh very quickly. Cows eating the Buckeye nut are very apt to abort. Some goats eating the bark of this shrub have died. There are some claims that Buckeye leaves were traditional used for fish stupefaction, however, it appears only to have been used, if no other suitable species was available for this purpose. Medicinally, supposedly, small fragments of bark have been used in tooth cavities. Also mistletoe grown on this plant was said to have been used as an abortifacient. I have grave doubts as to the validity of *both reports*, I think a tricksters was attempting to make good stories better!


In California we have several plants of the Rhamnus species. The most common is the Rhamnus californica, usually called, the Coffeeberry tree, but also Pigeon-berry tree, of which we have many examples in Bol Park. This is the famous Cascara sagrada (sacred bark) of the Spanish settlers, *but* not the Cascara sagrada of *commerce*, which is Rhamnus purshiana. The aged bark of the European buckthorn tree (R. cathartica), called Hartshorn or Waythorn, has been used as a laxative, since the Middle Ages and appeared in the London Phamacopeia in 1650. Present day research has found that R. cathartica has antiviral properties (against herpes simples virus I and II and influenza virus A2), is active against staphylococcus and candida, kills several types of fungi, lowers blood pressure in rats and has some antitumor activity in mice. The Spanish settlers used R. californica as their laxative (cathartic) of choice and some local tribes used it for certain kidney complaints. The "Sacred bark" or Cascada Sagrada is still the world's most popular herbal laxative. Parke, Dacis and Co. first marketed in 1877 and it was first listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia in 1890. The bark must be aged for 1-2 years, during this time chemical changes take place in it, which reduce some of its side effects, such as "griping". Cascada Sagrada has been found to have antiviral effects against herpes simplex virus II and vaccinia virus.

The English name for Rhamnus californica, Coffeeberry comes from the resemblance of its fruit and seeds to that of the coffee tree, *however*, neither the fruit nor the seeds of R. californica are edible. The flowers however, have a delicate perfume and their nectar is much loved by the bees and other insects. The Coffeeberry tree is only eaten by deer during long severe droughts. Sometimes young plants will be defoliated by insects, *but* they come back more strongly than before. The Rhamnus trees are home to the Pale Swallowtail Butterflies. Another variety which we will have in Bol Park, is Rhamnus crocea, most often called Redberry, but also Hollyleaf Buckthorn. Certain local tribes found the berries of this shrub edible. Some of the California tribes have used both the aged bark and the berries of the various Rhamnus species as laxatives and when they noted the bears eating certain shrubs, made a jelly out of the bear-edible parts (it is not clear if these were only the berries or sometimes the flowers too).

BUCKWHEAT, WILD - Eriogonum spp.; E. arborescens, E. giganteum & E. grande rubescence

(The Eriogonums are phosphorus concentrators).
The local tribes made a tea of the leaves, stem and particularly of the woody roots for stomach pains, colic from "high living", headaches and "female complaints" (mainly, PMS, menstruation problems and childbirth). The newborns were also washed in the tea. The root tea was also used as an eye wash. A tea made from the flowers had diuretic properties. The very young stems and also the seeds were often eaten by various tribes. The leaves were sometimes boiled and eaten with corn meal.


ALLIUM spp. (A. amplectens, A. dichlamydeum, A. haematochiton, A. hyalinum A. unifolium) - Onion Family. Allium bolanderi were eaten by the tribes in California. Whereas, Allium unifolium bulbs and leaf bases were roasted prior to eating. The bulbs of many other onion species were also used as flavoring, vegetables, salad greens etc. The medicinal use of these plants were also known to the settlers.

BLOOMERIA CROSEA - Golden Stars The bulbs of Bloomeria aurea were eaten both raw and cooked by the tribes.

BRODIAEA spp. (B. appendiculata, B. californica, B. coronaria, B. elegans, B. jolonensis, B. minor, B. lutea/Triteleia ixoides var. ixoides, B. pulchella/Dichelostemma capitatum - Blue Dicks, B. purdyi, B. stellaris & B. terrestris) The bulbs of Brodiaea grandiflora and B. pulchella were eaten raw or roasted by the tribes. The corms of most other Brodiaea were much prized as food, the large corms being eaten raw or cooked and the smaller ones replanted. The flowers were used as a soap and hair shampoo.

CALOCHORTUS spp. (C. albus, C./Mariposa argillosus, C./Mariposa catalinae, C./Mariposa luteus, C. plummera, C. simulens, C./Mariposa splendens, C./Mariposa superbus, C. tolmiei, C. umbellatus, C. uniflora, C./Mariposa venustus & C. weedii) The bulbs/corms/roots of most of this species, but including, C. luteus, C. macrocarpus, C. maweanus, C. pulchellum & C. venustus (sweet) were all eaten by the tribes. The corms were eaten raw or roasted in a pit of ashes or steamed. These corms were sometimes called, "Indian potatoes".

CAMASSIA spp. (C. leichtlinii & C. quamash) The tribes cooked these bulbs in stone-lined pits in the ground until they were "a sweet molasses-like liquid" OR dried and ground them into a flour to be made into bread OR eaten fresh OR cooked in many different ways. Hog were found to fatten better on these bulbs than on corn. NOTE: Great care was taken not to collect the poisonous bulbs of Zygadenus.

DICHEOSTEMMA spp. (D. capitatum/Brodiaea pulchella - Blue Dicks, D. congestum, D. ida-maia, D. multiflora & D. volubile) The corms of many of this species including D. californicum, D. capitatum (sweet) and D. congestum were all eaten by the tribes. The dicheostemma corms were sometimes eaten raw, but were "sweeter" if cooked in ashes. See Brodiaea above.

ERYTHRONIUM spp. (E. californicum - Fawn Lily & E. tuolumnense). The bulbs of Erythronium grandiflorum, Erythronium giganteum and other Erythronium spp. were eaten to some extent by the tribes. However the crushed corms were also used as poultices for boils.

FRITILLARIA spp. (F. affinis/lanceolata - Mission Bells, F. biflora, F. lilacea, F. pluriflora - Adobe Lily & F. recurva) Many of these ricelike bulbs of Fritillaria were sometimes eaten by the tribes either raw, or boiled or dried for future use.

IRIS (I. douglasiani, I. fernaldi & I. Longpetula) Ropes and nets were made from the leaves of these plants.

LILIUM (L. humboldtii & L. pardalinium) These bulbs were eaten by the tribes.

ODONTOSTOMUM HARTWEGII No known specific use.

TRITELEIA spp. (T. bridgesii, T. hyacinthina, T. ixoides var. ixoides/Brodiaea lutea, T. laxa & T. peduncularis) The tribes are known to have eaten the bulbs of Triteleia laxa and Triteleia peduncularis, as well as other Triteleia - see Brodiaea above

BUTTERCUP, CALIFORNIA ­ Ranunculus californicus

Some of the tribes parched and ground the seeds into a meal and used them as a pinole or in baking.

CALIFORNIA NUTMEG - Torreya californica

This tree is of the Yew family. We will attempt to grow it, so far so good. It seems to be fairly rare and it has to be "kept happy"

CALIFORNIA PEONY (Paeonia californicus)

The local tribes reduced the roots of this plant to a powder and made it into a tea for sore throats, colds and chest infections. A cough medicine was also made from the seeds.


This is a RARE plant. It seems to be fairly hardy and has come back although some insects made a feast of its leaves last fall!!!

CEANOTHUS spp - Wild Lilacs

There are at least 30 species and varieties of Ceanothus in this general area. We have attempted to obtain a wide selection for Bol Park, but have been hampered by vandalism (plants have been pulled up, run-over by bikes and one bush, C. spinosus, was recently ripped down the center of its trunk) and then, when the large trees in Bol Park died back so very badly, the berm area habitat was changed from deep shade to total sun and now will change back again!!! Some of the Ceanothus species that may be able to grow in our area, include, C. arboreus, C. cuneatus, C. cyaneus, C. ferrisae(Rare plant), C. foliosus, C. gloriosus, C. griseus, C. heastiorum, C. impressus, C. integerrimus, C. leucodermis, C. maritimus (some inland varieties), C. papillosus roweanus, C. purpureus, C. rigidus, C. roderickii (Rare plant), C. sorediatus and C. thyrsiflorus. The common names for these plants include: wild lilac, buckbrush, deerbrush, tobacco brush (C. velutinus), sweet birch, snowbrush, Oregon tea tree, Mahala mat and red root. These plants are nitrogen fixing plants. Under stress the roots of these plants become "redder". The leaves from several species of this plant have been used as substitutes for China and India tea, in fact, its eastern seaboard siblings were used by the colonists after the Boston "Tea Party". Medicinally the bark and particularly the roots, were used by the American tribes and the colonists. The teas made from the roots (and sometimes the bark) were used for dysentry, asthma, sore throats, bronchitis, as a sedative and as a "blood" tonic (there being alkaloides in the roots that are mildly hypotensive) and for people under stress . The teas were also highly thought of as a lymphatic remedy, particularly for enlarged lymph nodes and sinus and tonsil inflammations. The colonists sometimes used these teas for menstrual hemorrhaging, nosebleeds and bleeding piles. Some of the local tribes used the shoots of some species (for example, C. integerrimus) as the circular withes for their baskets and collected large quantities of the seeds for pinole. An extract from the flowers were added to their hair shampoos or used as a rinse. The leaves of many Ceanothus species (for example, C. cuneatus) are much loved as food by the deer and the squirrels are fond of the seeds.

CEDAR, INCENSE - Libocedrus decurrens

The tree contains volatile oils which give off a chararcteristic odor, somewhat like incense, hence the common name. The local California tribes used the timbers of these trees underground since they are very resistant to decay. The bark was used for temporary houses. The smaller limbs of branches were sometimes used in the construction of bows. The settlers used this wood for furniture and interior house finishing. The local tribes sometimes used the leaves of these trees in a tea to relieve stomach problems.

CEDAR, WESTERN RED - Thuja plicata

The Western Red Cedars were held in religious regard by certain tribes. The Red Cedar contains immunostimulants, as well as anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agents. Various tribes use it for ring-worm, athlete's foot and nail fungi. A tea made from young fan branches was used for chronic bladder and urethral irritation. These teas were also found useful in chronic respiratory and intestinal infections. The teas were found to be harmful in kidney disorders and during pregnancy.

The leaves make a lovely incense. The local tribes made the fiber of the inner bark into ropes and thatching. Further north the wood was used for war canoes and carved totems.

CHEMISE BUSH or Greasewood - Adenostoma fasciculatum

These bushes were used by the local tribes in building construction for huts, ramadas and fences, as well as for bows and arrows. The large roots were used as firewood for roasting special meals. A gum from a deposit of a scale insect of this plant was used as a glue for arrow points and binding baskets to mortars, etc. The leaves and young branches of these plants were boiled to make washes for sore, swollen or infected areas of the body. An infusion of this plant was given orally to sick cattle (sickness not specified).


The fruit of this tree is reddish-yellow and resemble small gage plums. The local tribes gathered these cherries, in quantity, in August and spread them in the sun until the pulp was dried. Then the pits were broken away from the dried flesh. The flesh was stored separately and the pits were broken open and the kernels extracted. These kernels were crushed in a mortar, leached in a sand basket and boiled into atole. Both the dried flesh and the prepared kernel meal were equally popular with the local tribes. The kernel meal was also often made into a tortilla-like food. The fleshy fruit, both fresh and dried, was made into drinks. The dried fruit was sometimes mixed with dried meats, to make a trail or journey snack, which is similar to the North-Eastern tribes pemmican. The dried chokecherries were sometimes stored as chokecherry biscuits. Pieces of the biscuits were fed to children for stomach aches. The bark of this tree was used to make an infusion for "curing" colds and lung ailments.

This tree is a favorite with birds. The tree gives off terpenes (chemicals) which can inhibit weeds and other seedlings.


It looks like a manzanita with madrone berries or a funny looking Toyon. I would like to try and grow it although it is a Southern California native and appears to be rare


This tree is best known for its wood, which was traditionally used for making mortars. It also made an excellent firewood, whereas its fibrous bark could be used for many purposes. This is an important California bird and butterfly tree. In general, the larvae of the Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly, as well as those of the Wide-Banded Admiral and the Mourning Cloak favor these trees. Traditionally, the leaves and bark of the cotton wood were boiled and made into a poultice to reduce swelling after bruising, muscular strains and for arthritis. Solutions made from the bark and leaves were also used for cuts and sores. Likewise, these treatments were used on horses (mules(?) and donkeys(?)) to treat saddle sores and swollen limbs. These trees belong to the willow family (Salicaceae), so it is not surprising that cloths dipped in solutions of boiled bark and leaves were tied around the head for long lasting headaches. Apparently the solution was not drunk, although the antiscorbutic properties of the leaves were recognised. Mushrooms found growing on the dead limbs of the cottonwood (also willows and oaks) were considered to be a special delicacy, both in the springtime, when they were white in color or in late summer when they had turned brown. These mushrooms which were high in protein were a special addition to the normal acorn mush.

COYOTE BRUSH (Baccharis pilularis)

The local settlers drank a tea made from these shrubs for hay fever, sinusitis and frontal headaches. The local tribes made a strong tea from the leaves of these plants and used it as an eyewash. This tea was also used as a hair wash in order to prevent baldness and as a female hygienic agent. The wood from this plant was used by the tribes to make arrows, since the branches were straight, light and pithy and also in hut construction.

COYOTE MINT - Monardella villosa

The fresh or dried leaves, collected when the plant was seeding, were made into teas that were a favorite for tribal camping parties. The boiled leaves were sometimes used as seasonings, particularly for eating with hares. A strong tea was also used as a remedy for colic.

CREOSOTE BUSH (Larrea divaricata & L. tridentata)

These plants are among the OLDEST living plants being about 11,700 years old. They contain an interesting antioxidant, nordihydroguaiaretic acid, as well as having antiseptic properties. The leaves contain 16% protein (comparable with alfalfa), making them a valuable livestock feed. These plants were one of the most commonly used medicinal herbs, by both the settlers and the tribes. A tea made from the leaves and stems were used for colds, chest congestion and infections, bowel complaints and stomach cramps associated with delayed menstruation. Heavy doses of the tea induced vomiting. The tea was given to horses for colds, running noses and distemper. Poultices made from the leaves were used to heal open wounds, draw out poisons and prevent septic infections. A wash made from this plant was used for dandruff and as a body deodorizer.

CYPRESS FAMILY - Cupressus ssp.

The reason why we are attempting to grow particularly the Santa Cruz Cypress (Cupressus abramsiana) is because it is very rare to endangered and the Monterey Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpus) is because it is uncommon to rare. We may also attempt to grow two other species the Gowen Cypress (Cupressus goveniana) and Bakers Cypress (Cupressus bakeri) to keep the very rare ones company.

DOGWOODS, BROWN & REDTWIG - Cornus glabrata & C. stolonifera, also called C. californica

The roots of these trees have some anti-inflammatory properties and teas made from them have aspirinlike effects and were used by local tribes to break fevers. The fruits of these trees, although bitter were eaten by some of the tribes. The bark was sometimes made into a tobacco.

DUTCHMAN'S PIPE - Aristolochia californica (also called California Snakeroot or California Pipe Vine

A tea made from the roots (and sometimes also the stems) of this plant was considered by the settlers as a very good bitter tonic. This tea was considered to be of use following the eating of too many fatty foods and also during incidences of low grade fevers. The plant also appears to have some immunostimulation properties. High amounts of these teas can be toxic.

EVENING PRIMROSE - Oenothera hookeri/elata & O. graciliflora and O. ovata - SUNCUPS or Golden Eggs

Some seeds from these species were occasionally eaten by the local tribes (further details not known). The leaves and roots were sometimes used as boiled vegetables. The settlers gathered the seeds too and used them for, what we would call, chronic painful menstruation, diabetes, lowering blood pressure, an anti-inflammatory for rheumatoid arithritis, certain types of allergies (particularly Ig-E-mediated) and dry, eczematous skin. The reason behind these uses is that these seeds contain our old friend GLA (gamma-linoleic acid). The roots can be made into a tea and used medicinally too, however, the quality of the product is *highly* variable.

FLANNEL BUSH or CALIFORNIA SLIPPERY ELM ­ Fremonia/Fremontodendron californicum

This plant has similar uses to Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva). The bark and/or the young leaves can be made into a tea for sore throats and bronchial infections. The bark can also be made into a poultice for "drawing-out" the infection in boils etc.

FLAX, BLUE ­ Linum spp. (Linum Iewisii & L. perenne)

The seeds of these plants were used by the tribes as a food pinole and as a condiment. The stems were used as a source of fiber for making strings, cords, baskets, mats and fishing nets.

FRINGE CUPS ­ Tellima grandiflora

A favorite of the hummingbirds

FUCHSIAS, CALIFORNIA & HUMMINGBIRD - Zauschneria californica & Z. cana, sometimes called Epilobium Cana

Beautiful to look at and beloved by the butterflies and hummingbirds.

GALVEZIA SPECIOSA - Showy Island Bush Snapdragon

Pretty to look at and nice for our butterflies, bees, etc.

GINGER, WILD - Asarum caudatum

The settlers made a tea mainly from the roots, although sometimes from the leaves. They also used wild ginger much as others, the world over, used ordinary ginger (Zingiber officinale) as a kitchen spice and for nausea, etc. In addition, the settlers and some of the local tribes used wild ginger tea medicinally to induce sweating. Asarum caudatum appears to have antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial properties. Thus it was also used for poultices on ulcers, pulmonary and respiratory infections and strangely, for "heart pain" and arrhymias. Wild ginger should not be used during pregnancy.


BRIZA MEDIA - Quaking Grass No known specific food or medicinal use.

CALAMAGROSTIS FOLIOSA - Leafy Reed Grass No known specific use as a food, medicine or for basket making.

CAREX spp. (C. nudata, C. senta & C. tumulicola) - Sedges The tribes stripped the leaves off the stems of these plants and used them for food, since the stems were filled with a palatable sugary juice. The tuberous base of the stems was also eaten. These Sedge plants were used very extensively for basket making.

FESTUCA CALIFORNICA - California Fescue The tribes ate the seeds of these plants.

SISYRINCHUM spp. (S. bellum & S. californicum) - Blue-eyed & Yellow-eyed Grasses Some of these plants were used as food by the tribes, particularly the seeds and somtimes the young or immature leaves were used as "greens".

HAPLOPAPPUS spp. - Halopappus arborescens, H. linearifolius & H. squarrosus) - Mock Heather

In Southern California the local tribes used a tea made from the roots of Haplopappus acradenius for sore throats and colds or inhaled the steam from the leaves soaked in a pan of boiling water. The boiled leaves were also used as a poultice for sores. The boiled leaves and twigs of Haplopappus palmeri were used as poultices on sore feet to relieve pain and swelling, whereas horses were washed with an infusion to keep away insects. *Since at least one species of Haplopappus contains poisonous constituents that can result in liver damage, these plants should not be taken internally as in teas*.

HAZELNUT, CALIFORNIA - Corylus californica

In Celtic mythology, the English Hazelnut (Corylus avellana) symbolized fertility and immortality. The wood was used to make sorcer's wands, and dowser's and diviner's rods. The nuts from the California Hazelnut trees were eaten by the local tribes and the settlers. The bark of the tree was sometimes used as a poultice for sores and wounds. The young stems and branches were used for making sieves, fish traps and the warp for sedge baskets.


The local tribes sometimes ate the small dried fruits of this very beautiful plant, which covers itself in white blossoms.

HONEYSUCKLE - Lonicera interupta & L. involucrata (also called TWINBERRY)

The fruits of these plants were eaten fresh by the local tribes and sometimes dried and stored for winter use. The children were fond of sucking the nectar from the long yellow flowers. The leaves were sometimes made into a tea, which was used as an eye wash. The flexible stems of these plants were occasionally used for the circular withes of baskets.

HORKELIA spp. (Horkelia californica var. frondosa & H. bolanderi var. parryi - Rare) - Leafy Horkelia & Star Turf.

Could someone please tell me some uses of this plant?

INDIAN WARRIOR - Pedicularis densiflora & P. dudley

The nectar from these plants was much sought after by the birds and the children of the local tribes also sucked these flowers.

KECKIELLA CORDIFOLIA spp. - California Snapdragon

Pretty to look at and nice for the butterflies and bees etc

LOTUS spp. (Lotus scoparius & Lotus strigosus) - California Broom/Deerweed & Strigose Trefoil.

Some of the tribes used the Lotus scoparius in house construction, whereas Lotus strigosus, was used as a green vegetable. Lotus scoparius is used in revegetation projects.


I would like to get a specimen because they are rare. But I do not hold out much hope (a) we can get a specimen and (b) we can find a spot one would "like". They are really a Southern California Island natives.

MADRONES - Arbutus menziesii & A. "MARINA"

As we were warned, the Arbutus menziesii is very difficult to establish and we have found that plants coming from north of the Bay Area nearly all died. However, we have several nicely growing plants, which have been with us for a couple of seasons, with several more ready to go move to Bol Park shortly. The Arbutus "Marina" was developed by Christensen Nurseries for the South Bay area and "touch wood" they seem not to mind Bol Park's compacted SCVWD adobe clay soil and have even produced flowers and berries. Why have I been so keen to establish some of these trees, which I hope will give great pleasure to people 50-100 years from now? These species of trees were the "Council Meeting Place Trees" for several of our California Native Indian Tribes. So I am hoping in our future to celebrate our past too. The leaves from these trees, were used in times gone by, to make a tea for gastric and urinary problems. They were also used in sitz baths by postpartum mothers and these "Madrone sitz baths" were found to help in vaginitis and minor yeast infections. Early settlers used the Madrone berries to make jellies and jams. And also used the flowers for decorative purposes.

MALACOTHAMNUS spp. (Malacothamnus davidsonii - Rare, M. fasciculatus, M. orbiculatus & M. palmeri)

Hope to get some of these interesting plants growing in Bol Park soon. Anyone any uses???

MANZANITAS , MISSION ­ Xyloccocus bicolor

Looks like a manzanita crossed with a coffeeberry. We may not be able to get a specimen and it is really a Southern (Santa Catalina) rather than a Northern California Native. They seem to be fairly rare, hence my interest.

MANZANITAS - Arctostaphylos spp.

Many types of Manzanitas will eventually be planted in Bol Park, including, but not limited to: Arctostaphylos crustacea, A. cruzensis, A. cushingiana, A. densiflora, A. edmundsii, A. glandulosa, A. glauca, A. hookeri, A. insularis, A. pacifica, A. pajarensis, A. pungens, A. tomentosa, A. uva-ursi, A. viscida and A. "Dr. Hurd". The early Spanish settlers called these plants, "manzanita" which means "little apple." The generic name is from the Greek words meaning "bear" and "grapes", hence the name "bearberries". The use of the manzanita berries for food by the California tribes was partially dependant on the quantities of tanin found in the locally grown berries. However, what the humans did not rapidly harvest, the birds and wildlife did. The fruit is *very* nutritious, but too much eaten, at one time, could act as a poison, and some species (A. arguta) have been found to have narcotic properties.

Early in the berry gathering season, the berries were considered suitable for use as beverages. The pulp was mashed, mixed with water, strained and drunk OR the berries were just soaked and that water was drunk. If available, honey might be added. The cider was also fermented to obtain vinegar, as well as an alcohol drink. When fully ripened the berries were made into a gelatinous mass which was used as an aspic. The berries were also dried and stored for future use. The dried berries were ground into a flour from which a mush was made. Because many of the dried berries were bitter tasting, honey was added or the flour was mixed with other sweeter tasting flours. Manzanita seeds were also ground into meal from which mush or cakes were made. The leaves from some of these plants were steeped in water to make a tea which was used for colds, catarrh, diarrhea and stomache ailments. A leaf extract was considered to be a cure for poison oak rash! Since the extract could contain about 8% tanin, It was also used in sitz baths for infections, burns and inflammations and as a wash for human and animal (horse and donkey) sores. The leaves from A. uva-ursi were sometimes used as a tobacco. The leaves of A. uva-ursi were also used by some settlers to tan "Russian Leather".

The manzanita wood was used in construction of houses and for making parts of small tools and in pipe making. When burnt the wood was slow burning and produced a very hot fire. Manzanitas also served as indicators of where wildlife might be found. Bees love these plants! Children also were fond of sucking or eating the globular waxy flowers.

MONTIA & CLAYTONIA spp. (Montia parvifolia & Montia/Claytonia perfoliata) - Small-Leaved Montia & Miner's Lectuce.

Montia parvifolia was eaten as a green by some tribes. Miner's lectuce was used by the tribes and the settlers as a fresh salad green and boiled as a vegetable. Its tuberous roots were also sometimes eaten. Please note: *Miner's Lettuce is NOT a Native Plant, it comes from Europe*, but we have a lot of it in Bol Park.

MULE'S EARS (Wyethia angustifolia, W. glabra & W. helenioides).

The roots from these plants were baked and used by the local tribes as poultices for rheumatism. The roots were sometimes cooked (and fermented) and eaten, as were the young leaves and also the seeds.

NINEBARKS ­ Physocarpus capitatus

The name is more interesting than the plant. Hope to try it in another spot in Bol Park. I think the tribes must have had uses for it. Anyone know any uses???

OAKS, NATIVE ­ Quercus spp.

Our most common Oak around here, is the California Live Oak (Q. agrifolia), which varies from a rather nice looking tree to an untidy looking bush. I have found that the people, who do not live too close to Bol Park like them, whereas those who do, wish that the squirrels would stop burying the acorns all over the place. These "squirrel" given oaks have become weeds, not worthy of being the offspring of "historic" trees.

Our second most common oak is the CaliforniaValley Oak/ White Oak/Roble Oak (Q. lobata). We have several very beautiful examples of these oaks, both in Bol Park and in yards in the area. The SCVWD has planted a fair number of these oaks along the bike path. Most of these young trees are doing fairly well, but we should know whether we have potentially beautiful trees in about 10-20 years.

We will be planting specimens of 3 other oaks, namely, California Black Oaks/Kellogg Oaks (Q. kelloggii); California Blue Oaks/Douglas' Oaks (Q. douglasii) and the third which is not true oak, the Tan Oak/Tan Bark Oak (Lithocarpus densiflora).

In the "Old World" oaks were revered and in Roman times, beautiful old trees were dedicated to Jupiter, their chief god. In Britain, the druids performed their rites under the oak trees and oaks became a symbol of the power of England, because their ships were built of oak, in times gone-by.

In the "New World", many tribes, including those in this area, used the oak acorns (including those from the Tan Oak) as food. To remove the astringent and bitter principles (mainly tannins), the acorns were dried and ground and the meal, thus produced, was percolated with water until it tasted sweet and had a nutty flavor. This sweet meal was used as a flour and many types of foods were prepared from it, including soups and breads. The Q. agrifolia, Q. douglasii, Q. kelloggii, Q. lobata and also the L. densiflora were used as acorn/oak meal producers. In northern California, the black oak (Q. kelloggii) meal was said to be preferably to the tan oak (L. densiflora), to the white oak (Q. lobata). The Tan Oaks (L. densiflora) were also valued for the taste/quality of their oil and which was said to have a pleasant taste after the tannins (bitter matter) were washed/leached out.

The ashes of burnt oak wood and bark were used as an antiseptic wash. The oak galls (which are a fungus) were ground up and used in an eye wash. Oak bark was used to produce various fast color, nonfading dyes. A substance obtained from the bark (various tannins) was also used in buckskin tanning. Oak leaves were used as bedding. It has been said that acorns could be made into a musical instrument (any ideas of how???), used in animal traps and used in various games. Certainly they were used as items of trade. The early settlers (as they had in Europe) fatten their hogs by feeding them acorns, but seldom used the acorns in preparing their own food.


The fruits were eaten by the local tribes and the local wild fauna.

PIGGY-BACK PLANT ­ Tolmeia menziesii

It seems hardy and it "likes" my yard, so I hope to get it going in Bol Park before the spring.


ESCHSCHOLTZIA SPP., PAPAVER SPP. & ARGEMONE SPP. The California State Flower is our beautiful California Poppy (Eschscholtzia californica), also called Cups-of- Gold and Flame-Cups. Eschscholtz, Johann Friederich Gustav von, was a Russian botanist (1793-1831). The early Spanish settlers called them, "Copa del Ora" and told a legend that the golden petals filled the soil with golden riches. The Costanoan Indians of the Bay Area, including probably our local Puichon tribe, rubbed an extract of this plant in their hair to kill lice. Whereas, the Indians from Medicino County used the freshly cut root, in the cavity of a tooth for toothache. An extract from the plant was used on suppurating sores and to stop milk excretion in mothers. Given internally, this extract caused vomiting (and hence cured(?) stomache aches) and was considered to be a cure(?) for comsumption. The leaves were sometimes used as greens, but the water they were boiled in, was thrown away. The leaves were also sometimes roasted on hot stones (to make the part of the above extract(?)). The Cahuilla women of Southern California used the flower pollen as a facial cosmetic. These lovely golden poppies are officially annuals, but often re-grow for several years and given a bit of water, can flower a number of times a season. Several plants are flowering now along the bikepath.

The famous/infamous poppies of legend and story are actually from the Papaver spp. *and are not native to California*. Three well known members of this species are the Iceland Poppies (Papaver nudicaule), the Corn or Red Poppies (P. rhoeas) and the Opium Poppies (P. somniferum). From Opium Poppies (P. somniferum) can be manufactured morphine, codeine, heroine and many other alkaloids. *Please note the seeds of this plant, which we use in baking and cooking, contain NO opium*. However, the seeds of the Iceland Poppies (P. nudicaule) do contain *small* amounts of opium and have been used by the Kalmucks as a tranquilizer and pain-killer.

The European Corn or Red poppies (P. rhoeas) are a source of a red pigment that has been used to color wines and certain medicines. The flowers have been used medicinally since ancient times, particularly as an expectorant (that is an agent which is thought to help the expulsion of respiratory mucus). These flowers have long been associated with cornfields (also oats and barley). In 1969, I saw abundant poppies growing in the grain fields around the Greek-Turkish border and wondered, P. rhoeas or P. somniferum. The Corn Poppies were sacred to the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite and also Ceres, the Roman goddess of Mother-Earth and thence, fertility. In Britain, the Red Poppies are the Memorial Day (11 Nov.) symbol, originating from the poem written by the Canadian Army Medical Officer, Col. John McCrae (1872-1918), during the second battle of Ypres in 1915, which reads in part:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row .
... If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Another type of Poppy, are the annual Mexican Prickly Poppies (Argemone mexicana), these again, are not native to northern California. From the seeds of these plants an oil is produced, which can be used in the manufacture of soap and it is also used as a purgative. It is of interest to note that, ashes from the leaves of Sweet Poppies (A. intermedia) were used by the Kiowa Indians as an ingredient for tattooing.

BUSH POPPY or TREE POPPY ­ Dendromecon rigida Nice to look at and of interest for bees and butterflies. I keep feeling I am missing medicinal uses. Anyone know of any medicinal uses???

COULTERšS MATILLIA POPPY ­ Romneya coulteri Some of the local tribes used the watery substance found in the stalks of this bushy perennial as a drink. The plant was however, used by the settlers as a medicinal herb. The plant was made into a wash for use on skin inflammations, burns irritations, etc. The powdered herb was used as a good first aid for wounds, cuts and bites, due to its antimicrobial and antifungal properties. A tea made from this poppy made a good mouth wash and was also used for stomach pains due to over eating. This tea may give a false positive in urine testing for opiates.

REDBUDS, WESTERN - Cercis occidentalis

The bark and the young sprouts were used by local tribes in basket making. The early settlers used the bark as a substitute for quinine in chills and fevers. Some of the tribes roasted the seed pods and ate the seeds. The flowers are also edible and were used by some of the settlers in salads and pickles..

REDWOODS ­ Sequoia semervirens

One of the great beauties of Bol Park are the stately groves of Coastal Redwood Trees (Sequoia sempervirens) that curve along the path by Matadero creek. The picture of the Redwoods accompanying this write-up comes from the famous Berkeley Website and in part (2) of this series, I will list the address of this and several other websites of interest, as well as citing my key reference books. When I think of Bol Park, the image of our beautiful Redwoods comes instantly to mind. In years gone by, the leaves of the Coastal redwood trees were used as an incense when placed on embers. What is less well known, is that particularly in the springtime, an aromatic tea was made from the stems, leaves and branchlets and used during the recuperative stage of lung infections when a hacking cough was a problem. Our local Puichon Indian village was a bit higher up on Matadero Creek, on the land now owned mainly by the VA Hospital, but certainly they too must have enjoyed the beauty of the stately Redwoods.

ROSES, CALIFORNIA (Rosa californica)

Some of our plants have produced an abundance of flowers last spring and also large hips this last fall. The local tribes apparently did not make much use of the hips, although their Vitamin C content is very high. The birds and the bees have already started to enjoy our plants. The flowers are beautifully scented. The buds and flower petals can be used in all the traditional ways of the "old" roses.

SAGES, NATIVE - Salvia spp.

The Latin name Salvia, means "to be saved" and the Greeks and Romans, believed their local sage (Salvia officinalis) to be a "cure all" and be able to give longevity. Our locally planted sages, if we find spots to make them happy (there are disputes over what are the various ranges and also which are sub-species, etc, I leave that to our native plant experts) will include: Salvia spathacea - Hummingbird, Pitcher, Crimson or Canon Sage Salvia mellifera - Black Sage Salvia columbariae - Chia Salvia apiana - White Sage Salvia sonomensis - Sonoma Sage Hummingbird Sage was used as a decongestant. The tea, which is delicious, I am told, is mildly antimicrobial and hence can be used as a gargle for sore throats. The Pomos used a plug of dried leaves as a vaginal bolus for vaginosis. Both this sage and White Sage have been used as an incense and for smudge sticks. The seeds of the Black Sage and the annual Chia (which blooms earlier) were used as a food and the fresh leaves as a condiment.

The seeds of the annual Chia are well know from the Health Food Stores and contain about 20% protein. Traditionally, the parched seeds were ground into meal, which could then be made into cakes or mush. Soups and beverages were also made from these seeds. Medicinally, the mush of the Chia was used as a poultice for infections. Eye washes were made from the seeds of this sage and also from those of the White Sage. The seeds of the White Sage were also ground into meal, but as the taste was rather distinctive, they were usually mixed with other seeds. The protein content of the White Sage seeds is about 8%. The young fresh leaves, like those of the Black Sage were used as flavoring. The leaves were also smoked, eaten and used in sweathouses to cure flu and colds. The leaves were used as hair shampoos, dyes and hair straighteners. The fresh leaves were crushed and used to eliminate body odors. The Hummingbird Sage in particular lives up to its English name and should give pleasure to the area bird watchers. We hope the fragrances of the various sages will give pleasure to all.

SAGE, PITCHER - Lepechinia calycina & L. fragrans

The settlers made a tea of the flowering and fruiting tops and used it for pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and for post menses discomfort. This tea was also used for painful episodes in benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). The plant appears to contain anti-inflammatory agents, as well as the known antioxidants and astringents.

SAGEBRUSH, CALIFORNIA - Artemesia californica

This is one of the most important medicinal plants of the California tribes. If anything, it was considered to be essential for the women of the tribes. Beginning with the onset of menstruation, women were given a tea made from the boiled plant, every month just before the commencement of each menstrual cycle to induce menstrual activity. It is of interest that the women were not allowed to eat salt, grease or meat for several days after drinking this tea. These dietary restrictions were thought to stop dysmenorrhea and alleviate menopause problems that might occur later. The tea *was not used during pregnancy*, but was used just before delivery to assure a "comfortable" childbirth and rapid post-natal recovery. The tea was given to newborns one day after birth to "flush out their systems". The leaves of the sagebrush were used by all members of the tribe to relieve colds, bronchitis and rheumatism and were also burnt in their sweethouses. A tea was used for stomach aches, headaches and various kinds of fever. It was also used for chronic gastritis and gastric ulcers. In addition, the leaves were chewed either fresh or dried and also smoked. A juice from this plant was sometimes used against the effects of poison oak.

Some tribes parched and ground the seeds of this plant into a flour for a pinole-like mush. This plant contains antioxidants and also antifungal and antimicrobial components, hence its medicinal use by the tribes.

SALAL - Gaultheria shallon

The fruit were eaten by the local tribes either fresh or cooked with grease. Large quantities of the fruits were dried and pressed into slabs or cakes and stored. Chunks of the dried Salal were often added to root vegetable soups. The fruits are high in flavonoids and Vitamin C. The berries are also much prized by birds and wildlife. A tea made from the crushed leaves, contains both astringent and anti-inflammatory agents. The settlers used this tea for gastritis and diarrhea, and urinary and bladder and sinus, respiratory and pulmonary infections.

SERVICE BERRY - Amelanchier pallida

The local tribes ate large quantities of these berries, raw and also dried and stored them. The Vitamin C content of these berries is high. The wood from this plants was sometimes used for arrows.

SIDALCEA spp. (Sidalcea hickmanii - Rare & S. malvaeflora) - Checkerbloom/ Wild Hollyhock.

These plants were eaten as greens by the tribes.

SILENE spp. (Silene californica & S. scouleri var. grandis - Rare) Indian Pink

In other parts of the world their native species are eaten as a vegetable, particularly for use in soups.


Garrya elliptica is also called Quinine Bush or Fever Bush, whereas Garrya fremontii is also called Skunk Bush or Quinine Bush. We will have both these species in Bol Park. I fell in love with the beauty of the "silk tassels". The tribes in California and the South-West took the leaves of the Quinine Bush (G. elliptica, in this instance) and mixed them together with leaves from the Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus glabrata) and the Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva ursi), both the later will also be in Bol Park, and made them into a type of tobacco. Some of the Southern Californian tribes and also the settlers, did not use the Garrya bark nor the roots (both considered *too* potent), but leaves picked, "after the blooms had faded and before the berries ripened" and made a tincture or tea from these. This was used as a remedy to speed and ease kidney stones passage, for bad cramps from gallbladder pain, urethral and bladder cramps, and bad menstrual cramps. The Northern Californian tribes also used both the bark and the leaves of the Garrya elliptica to make a decoction to relieve intermittent fevers. Whereas Garrya fremontii was sometimes even used as a "tonic". The taste of any "medicine" made from the Garrya species is horrible. These "medicines" were not used by either children nor by prudent pregnant women.

SNOWBERRY - Symphoricarpos albus laevigatus

The white waxy berries of these plants were sometimes eaten by the local tribes. Apparently the further north one goes the more tasty the fruit becomes. The shrub was prized by the local tribes for its wood, which is very light, but durable and strong and contains large quantities of pith. The slenderest twigs were made into sweeping brooms, whereas the medium sized ones were made into arrows and tobacco pipestems. The larger branches were valued for making the revolving shafts of drills used by some tribes to make their shell money.

SOAP PLANT, CALIFORNIA or Amole Lily - Chlorogalum pomeridianum

We have one large "colony" of these plants in the neighborhood and are working on establishing others. They are not the prettiest looking plants, but their wide variety of traditional uses makes up for this. PLEASE DO NOT DIG UP THOSE IN BOL PARK! The fairly small white flowers of this plant occur on the branches of a 2-6 foot long stalk. They only open after midday and have a faint but pleasant smell. Fresh leaves from this plant, because of their flexibility, were used in traditional acorn bread baking. The dough was completely covered with them before being placed on the hot baking rocks and covered with other leaves and ashes. The parallel markings of the leaf veins appeared clearly on the finished loaves. The green leaves were also sometimes used to prick the skin to form green tattoo marks. In the spring, young shoots of the plant were gathered, roasted and eaten. They were said to taste sweeter than sugar, when properly roasted.

The bulb itself, which can be 3-5 inches long and 1-3 inches wide, is covered by coarse horsehair-like fibers. These fibers were sometimes gathered into bunches and made into small brushes, which were used in the process of grinding acorns to make flour. Supposedly, bigger whisk brooms/brushes, including hair-brushes were also made and their flexibility was enhanced by the use of vegetable oils. The fibers were also sometimes used for stuffing mattresses. The bulbs were usually gather in the early fall. The inner fleshy bulbs wwere not eaten. However, when the bulbs were roasted, they exuded a viscous juice, which could act as a glue substitute for attaching feathers to arrows. This substance when mixed with soot and diluted, was used to "antique" bows. The roasted bulbs were also used in antiseptic poultices for sores and wounds. The inner bulb of this plant is best known for its value as a detergent soap and this use was also appreciated by the early settlers. This "soap" was used for washing everything from baskets, to delicate fabrics and made an excellent hair shampoo. The shampoo was an anti-dandruff agent, but left the hair soft and glossy. This "Amole Lily" shampoo is also fairly effective for treating mange and other canine skin infections. (Good for cats too, but they don't like the smell!!!). The soapy bulb extract was sometimes used for treating poison oak and the now illegal use of stupefaction of fish.

Other tribal uses, included, drinking a decoction of the bulb as a diuretic and laxative and rubbing slices of the fresh bulb on the body to alleviate cramps and rheumatism.

SPICE BUSH, Balm of Heaven, California Laurel, Pepper- wood, California Pepper, Oregon Myrtle - Umbellularia californica

The fruits of this tree were used by the local tribes. However, only the inner 1/3 of the flesh was used and the kernels only after parching. Each family kept a supply of this "peppernut-bread" on hand and used it as a condiment, relish and stimulant. These treated "peppernut-breads" also made a good trail stimulant when food was scarce. A drink was sometimes made from the bark of the roots of this shrub-tree. The crushed leaves or inhaled tincture of the leaves are effective "smelling salts". However, the smell can also give you a sinus headache. But oddly enough, a weak tincture or a tea made from the leaves can also be an effective therapy for migraines, headaches from neck muscle stress and also diarrhea and intestinal cramps.

A wash made from the leaves contains antifungal and antimicrobial components, which have been found useful for athlete's foot and "mild cases of jungle rot". These washes or baths can also sometimes be useful for joint pains and some types of arithritis. Your skin may feel tingling, prinkly or even slightly itchy from these washes, but rubbing with a towel disperses these sensations and leaves the joints feeling less painful and "looser". A strong wash made from the leaves of this plant were used by the local tribes and early settlers to kill head lice and other body vermin. Ground up leaves were used as very effective flea powders on floors of buildings etc. (DO NOT USE DIRECTLY ON ANIMALS - because of the possible skin irritation factor). The leaves from these tree were used by the Spanish settlers in their cooking, much as we use Bay leaves from this tree's European cousin the Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilus).

SPICE BUSH, WESTERN - Calycanthus/Butneria occidentalis

The flowers are fragrant and are liked by the bees. The bark is peppery to the taste buds and the bark of the Eastern species is used as a condiment. The the leaves of the Calycanthus are bitter to the taste and were not used. However, the local tribes used the wood and bark from fresh shoots in basket work. The main use of this plant was of its pithy shoots which were *much prized* for making arrows.

STREAM ORCHIDS - Epipctis gigantea

The roots of this plant contain mood-elevating, muscle relaxants, which are especially useful for menstrual cramps and PMS. Tinctures made from the roots have also been used for depression resulting from drugs and in emotional stress and in cases of hypersensivity - little tolerance for smells, noise or bright lights. Some local tribes, made a brew out of the roots of this plant to combat and treat, "insanity", for cases of severe illness called "sick-all-over" and for partial paralysis.


In other parts of the world the wood and resins from their native varieties are used as incense.

SUMACS (Rhus spp.)

The 4 species we have or will have in Bol Park are: Rhus integrifolia - Lemonade Berry Rhus ovata - Sugar Bush Rhus trilobata - Squaw Bush Rhus diversiloba - POISON OAK

RHUS INTEGRIFOLIA - Lemonade Berry The fruits are slightly acidic in taste, but when soaked in water, were used by local tribes as a cooling drink. These plants are noted for there freeze and fire tolerance.

RHUS OVATA - Sugar Bush The sweet waxy fruit was used by the local tribes both in its fresh and dried forms. The dried berries were also ground into a flour and used with other mushes and in drinks. A tea was made from the leaves and used for coughs and colds. The flowers were a source of good honey. These plants are fire and freeze tolerant and also very drought tolerant.

RHUS TRILOBATA - Squaw Bush or Basketweed The local tribes used the lemon-tasting berries, both fresh and dried. These berries were added to the various soups and mushes. When mashed into water, the berries made a good beverage (pink lemonade). The settlers made the fruits into jams. Sometimes the leaves were used in smoking mixtures. Shoots from this shrub were used in the making of baskets and the mature wood for bows. The local tribes also used the berries as a mordant in dyes. This shrub is very drought tolerant. It is also an excellent bird and browse plant. Please note some people are allergic to the crushed leaves of this plant. The crushed leaves of this shrub stink, giving rise to the name, skunk bush.

RHUS DIVERSILOBA - POISON OAK Unfortunately we seem unable to get rid of this plant, *so beware*!!!. Many of the Donkey Handlers have received doses via Perry and Miner 49er. I received my "gift", just before leaving for England and seemed to itch and scratch most of the way there! The fruits of this plant are free eaten by some birds, squirrels and in earlier times, the hogs enjoyed eating both the leaves and the fruits.


This is a large shrub or small tree of the pear family, which has white flowers in the summer and large clusters of red berries in the winter. The shrub is fire resistant if watered. The berries are eaten by the birds and in drought years by the deer. The bunches of berries are now mainly used for decorative purposes. Traditionally the berries were largely used as a food source. The berries which are disagreeably sour and acidic to the taste, were seldom eaten fresh. They were either boiled or cooked or preferably roasted in bunches over red-hot coals. A decoction of leaves and bark was traditional used to treat various aches and pains, particularly stomach aches. The Pomo Indians called this shrub but"-za'-za, the Yokia ki-yi' and the Cahuilla name translated means "ashwet".


The seeds from the Verbena hastata were used by some of the tribes for pinole and an infusion of leaves was used as a beverage.

VIOLA spp. (Viola adjunca & V. pendunculata) - Western Dog Violet & Johnny-Jump-Up

The leaves from the Viola pendunculata were used by some of the tribes as a green.

WILLOW HERB - Epilobium spp; E. minutum & E. paniculatum

The European-English Willow Herb (Epilobium angustifolium), also called Fireweed, was used for stomach and urinary complaints. Whereas a poultice was made from the plant to treat skin infections and inflammations. The young shoots were boiled and eaten as asparagus and the leaves were used as a tea substitute. The local tribes usually gathered the Californian plants while in flower. A strong tea made from these fresh or dried plants and mainly used for chronic diarrhea. However, the tea was also used for mouth, throat, stomach and intestinal inflammations. The gelatinous contents of the stalks was eaten by some of the tribes, whereas others used the plant in bread making.

WILLOWS - Salix species, particularly, Arroyo Willow (S. lasiolepsis) and Red Willow (S. laevigata)

The uses of the willow are many and have a "sameness" about them all over the world, no matter what the species. For example, their use in basket weaving, cradle making, as building materials and bow and arrow woods. The fibrous inner bark has also been used for rope making and various parts of the young shrubs, have been served as a tobacco. Thirsty travellers were always thakful to note the presence of willow trees denoting the nearby presence of water. From the Willow tree comes one of the most famous of all herbal medicines, namely, "salicin", which and later led to "aspirin". The ancient Egyptians, Assyrians and Greeks all used Willow bark, with its component, salicylic acid, to combat pain, fevers and headaches. Most of the tribes in America boiled the roots of their local willow trees and drank the resulting brew or chewed the leaves and/roots and/or added the roots to stream baths. In 1838, Rafaele Piria, prepared the first pure form of salicyclic acid from Willow bark. These was dubbed "salicin" and as such was in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia from 1882 to 1926. Salicyclic acid was later used to produce acetyl-salicyclic acid, better known as "aspirin".

Aspirin and aspirin-like compounds are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAID's). These compounds block the formation of certain prostaglandins (PG's) from their precursor, the fatty acid arachidonic acid (AA) and thus stimulates our immune system. Although salicylic acid is only a weak cycloxygenase inhibitor its potency within the body is about equal to aspirin. It is thought that salicin (the salicyclic acid extract from the willow tree) does not cause gastric and intestinal upset and/or bleeding, because unlike aspirin (the acetyl derivative of salicyclic acid), the natural product form does not become a prostaglandin inhibitor until it picks up the acetyl part of the molecule until it has been metabolized by the liver!!! Salicin and aspirin as noted above, are cycloxgenase inhibitors which prevent platelet aggregation or blood clots. This property is known to help in preventing heart attacks and just, may be, could help deter the spread of certain types of cancer (tumor) cells. I always have to smile and/or laugh at some of the English/European tests on substances which might prove good for your health. Try these two on your taste buds - chocolate (biscuits/cookies) with afternoon black tea and coffee with the alcohol of your choice!!! Oh, yes, both good for you in *moderation*!!!

YARROW, WHITE ­ Achillia millefolium var.californica

This is a common WEED and we are growing too much of it. A tea was made out of the leaves and flowers and used for headaches and stomach pains by the local tribes and settlers. A wash or even a poultice was also made from the leaves and flowers and used externally on sore eyes and sprains and bruises. It was also used on collar sores of horses. Occasionally some settlers used the leaves in salads or soups. It was also used in hair rinses.

YERBA BUENA (Satureja Douglasii)

This plant belongs to the mint family and is cousin to Summer Savory (Satureja hortensis) and Winter Savory (Satureja montana). These Savories are native to Europe and were common potherbs there and for the colonists, who used them in puddings, sausages and cakes. Yerba Buena, which literally meant "good herb", but which was the Spanish term for "garden mint", gave its name to the village which became San Francisco. A tea or an infusion of leaves and flowers made from the plant, Yuerba Buena, was considered by both the local tribes and the early settlers, as an effective medicine for reducing fevers and curing colds. Some of the tribes wrapped the stems and leaves around their heads, as a headache remedy. Skin washes for rashes and prickly heat were also make from the stems and leaves. In earlier times, a delightful summer tea was made from 3 parts of Yerba Buena to 1 part of Hibiscus, plus a dollop of honey.

YERBA SANTA or Holy Herb, Bear Plant or California Mountain Balm - Eriodictyon californica

This species were originally drug plants. They are high in flavonoids. The thick, sticky leaves, either fresh or dried, were often boiled and mixed with honey and drunk as a regular tea. Fresh leaves were sometimes chewed fresh as thirst quenchers. The settlers used tinctures made from the leaves (and flowers) as decongestants, because the secretions produced by lung, bronchial, nasal and asmatic conditions, were decreased and the underlying inflammations lessened. Yerba Santa was also used by the settlers for chronic gastritis and urethral irritations. Yerba Santa was also an important medicinal plant among the local tribes. It was used both as an internal and external remedy for rheumatism, for partial paralysis, lung problems and as a general "cure-all". For externally use, the leaves were pounded up and made into poultices for sores on both humans and animals. A liniment made from the fresh leaves was used to reduce fever, help rheumatic pains and for sore or fatigued limbs. Whereas, the leaves when made into a strong tea, were also used for bathing sore, rheumatic or fatigued limbs.

For lung problems the plant leaves were made into a tea, chewed dry or smoked. A tea made from 3 leaves of Yerba Santa, well washed, boiled in water, with a teaspoon of honey added, was used as a cough medicine, for colds, asthma and rheumatism.

YEW, WESTERN - Taxus brevifolia

The reason we are attempting to grow this tree is because it is rare and also it was the original source of the currently much used cancer drug, taxol. The local tribes used this wood for making their strongest bows, also paddles and spear handles. The bright red, fleshy berries are edible, but the seeds are considered to be poisonous. The English Yews (Taxus baccata) were considered sacred and a protection against evil. They were always planted around graveyards, as they were considered symbols of immortality or life after death. However, it was thought to be unlucky to bring branches into a house. A Yew spear was found in Essex estimated to be 150,000 years old!!! The wood was used for making the famous English longbows and also axe handles.

YUCCA spp. (Yucca baccata & Y. whipplei) - Banana Yucca & Spanish Bayonet/Our Lord's Candle

Some of the local tribes used the young flowers and the flowering stalks of Yucca whipplei for food. These were boiled, roasted or baked in pits or parboiled and then panfried. They were used like squash. The seed pods were also ground into a flour by some of the tribes. The leaves of this plant were not used as much as other Yucca varieties, as a fiber source. However, some tribes did use the fiber in the leaves for ropes, nets and sandles. The tribes and the settlers used the fleshy bananalike fruit of the Yucca baccata both fresh and cooked or roasted. The settlers made pies out of the fruits. The unripe fruit was roasted before eating, whereas the ripe fruit was also ground-up and pressed into cakes and dried in the sun for future use. A fermented beverage was often made from the fruit. The young flower buds were roasted for food too. The leaves were used as a fiber source for making baskets, ropes, nets and sandles. Home Page