This summer, anytime we walked up to the end of our lane, Chad would point out a plant with bright yellow flowers growing along side it and tell me he heard it had medicinal properties. He told me it was called Curly-Cup Gumweed.
We looked it up and found out what it’s good for: primarily bronchial problems, particularly phlegmy throats, and skin problems. (On the other hand it is contraindicated for those with heart or kidney problems.) Montana Plant Life says you can make the leaves and flowers into a tea, so that is my plan – dry the leaves and flowers and store them for winter, when the inevitable sore throat shows up in cold season.
I did not go to the driveway to harvest my gumweed, since there is most likely some contamination from the cars there. Instead I headed out into the field where the donkeys are pasturing to see if I could find any growing out there in healthier soil.
When I married Chad, I became co-caretaker of three donkeys, a fact which I find at once thrilling and totally alien. Apart from one day when the donkeys broke out of their fence in search of more lush pasture, all my interactions with them have been face to face over the top of a fence. Having avoided getting kicked during the donkey break out, I was fairly confident I could go hang out with them in the pasture without any problems.
I walked into their pasture nonchalantly, and instead of running away from me, they all three came over to get their heads rubbed. After massaging three donkey noggins, I went about looking for bright yellow flowers. The donkeys followed me at first, but went back to grazing when they saw I had moved on to non-massage activities.
The first plants I found only had dried flowers on them. Leaves only would have been okay, but I was really hoping for some nice bright flowers. I was starting to think that I had waited too long and all the flowers had dried up. Then I started seeing plant after plant that had been blending in with the tall grasses in the field. I harvested a basket full, being sure I left enough for the plants to renew themselves next year.
Apparently Curly-Cup Gumweed is good externally for eczema, and I’m going to be trying that remedy out first. I have two small red spots on my face that I recognize as eczema. It’s strange how you can go your whole life without something and then it appears on your body one day, and then occasionally reappears. Annoyingly, these small spots seems to flare up anytime my stress level nudges above “Relaxed.” I’m going to try macerating some flowers into some shea butter, apply it everyday for a week or so, and see how that goes.
Curly-Cup Gumweed is a native plant, which makes it even more exciting as a medicinal, being part of our botanical heritage. Even if I don’t need them for my throat this winter, seeing the dried yellow flowers in a jar will serve as a nice reminder of a warm autumn day hanging out with the donkeys.