Gumweed - Grindelia stricta; G. squarrosa

Why Get to know this plant:

Bright yellow petals and the spikey appearance make this plant easy to identify.

Bright yellow petals and the spikey appearance make this plant easy to identify.

Found easily on beaches all over Vancouver Island and mainland coastal areas. It is highly recommended for bronchitis and asthma due to its its ability to relax smooth muscle. Two actions of this plant make it very effective to treat the respiratory system: it loosens the mucous in the lungs and relaxes muscles to help expel it – therefore acting as an expectorant. It also can be used to treat the heart by it’s ability to relax smooth muscles and lowering the pulse rate of the heart and thereby the blood pressure.

 

Gumweed grows in clusters of flowers that can range in size from small with only a few flower heads to quite expansive stretching several feet. The plant is short however and does not grow more than waist high.

Gumweed grows in clusters of flowers that can range in size from small with only a few flower heads to quite expansive stretching several feet. The plant is short however and does not grow more than waist high.

Externally it can be applied to treat skin irritation such as that caused by poison ivy

 

Where This Plant grows:

Gumweed grows on dry beaches, coastal bluffs and along ditches or roadsides.

 

How to Identify gumweed:

Gumweed is found on various types of grounds near the seashore, ranging from rocky to sandy to dry bluffs covered in grass.

Gumweed is found on various types of grounds near the seashore, ranging from rocky to sandy to dry bluffs covered in grass.

Identify this perennial herb by spotting the spikey looking flowers or buds that are sticky to touch. Leaves are large lanceolate shaped and slightly toothed. Flowers are bright yellow ray flowers and bracts are sticky, green and reflexed.

 

Parts Used:

Sticky buds before flowering, have a resinous sap that is beneficial, leaf in early summer before dried out from sunshine.

 

Ideal harvest from the sticky flower buds before they have opened into flowers. They are best harvested in the morning after the dew has dried.

Ideal harvest from the sticky flower buds before they have opened into flowers. They are best harvested in the morning after the dew has dried.

Medicinal Actions:

Antispasmotic, expectorant, hypotensive, antiasthmatic

 

Leaves of gumweed are long and toothed and have a dusky appearance to them.

Leaves of gumweed are long and toothed and have a dusky appearance to them.

Caution: 

Make sure that you speak to your doctor before taking gumweed, especially if you have an existing heart condition or are taking heart medication.

 

Constituents in the plant:

Diterpenes (grindelic acid and others)

Flavonoids (including acacetin, kumatakenin, quercetin);

Resins

Volatile oils (0.2%)

Saponins; Grindelin

 

References:

Keane, Kahlee (2015) The Standing People: Wild Medicinal Plants of British Columbia. Save our Species publishing. p.40

Hoffman, David (2003). Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal MedicineHealing Arts Press. USA. p.553-554.