Santa Comes to Town

Sacred herb is in bloom with its pinkish lavender flowers.

Yerba Santa flowers

The plant classified as Eriodictyon californicum by botanists has many common names but the name Yerba Santa is by far the most commonly used name in California, notwithstanding the nearly identical name for the plant used in the Spanish language. And it is in bloom now around Three Rivers, particularly in areas of chaparral.

Yerba Santa is native to California and has long been used to treat various respiratory illnesses, as well as a topical treatment for wounds. Research has shown that the plant may be beneficial as a preventative treatment against degenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The specimen in today’s photograph was spotted growing on the side of North Fork Drive between Kaweah and Advance, where the road cuts through rocky chaparral.

The entry for Eriodictyon californicum on the Calflora website can be found at https://www.calflora.org/app/taxon?crn=3182.

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