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Monday, September 6, 2010

Chamisa (4 Wing Salt Bush)

4 Wing Salt Bush (Chamisa)

Native Americans of the Southwest harvested the leaves and seeds of the plant for food. Seeds were cooked like oatmeal, and the leaves were either eaten raw or cooked. Sometimes the ashes of the plant were used as a leavening ingredient for breads or were used in making a lye to soften the hulls of corn. However the seeds were prepared, they represented a good source of niacin.

The ground-up seeds were mixed with sugar and water for a drink called pinole.

Handfuls of the male blossoms can be crushed and mixed with a little water to create a soap for washing or treating ant bites. This suggests that the plant contains saponins, soaplike compounds. Navajos made a yellow dye from an infusion of the twigs and leaves.

Alternate Names:

chamiza, chamise, chamiso, bushy atriplex, fourwing shadscale, buckwheat shrub, white greasewood, salt sage, wafer sagebrush, box brush.


American Indians boiled fresh roots with a little salt and drank half-cupful doses for stomach pain and as a laxative. Roots were also ground and applied as a toothache remedy.

Leaf or root tea was taken as an emetic for stomach pain and bad coughs. Soapy lather from leaves was used for itching and rashes from chickenpox or measles.

Fresh leaf or a poultice of fresh or dried flowers was applied to ant bites. Leaves were used as a snuff for nasal problems. Smoke from burning leaves was used to revive someone who was injured, weak, or feeling faint. Hispanics use the plant for colds and flu.

In the old days the seeds were ground and cooked as a cereal, the leaves were eaten cooked or raw,or were dried and mixed with other ingredients to form cake or bread flour. Hard twig ends were used as swift or war arrowheads. (Stone points were used for game.)

Stay Prepared! Stay Alive!


1 comment:

  1. It's good to know the healthy benefits of Chamisa. I didn't known that this herbal; medicine can also be used to relieve toothache.

    toothache relief