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Common Name: Skeleton Weed
Lygodesmia juncea is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.30 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
N. America - British Columbia to Manitoba, south to Arizona and Texas, east to Indiana.
High Plains, rolling short-grass prairies, blufftop prairies, loess hills, sandy to silty soils, disturbed sites, railroads, roadsides, barren areas at elevations of 600 - 2300 metres[
We have almost no information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors in most areas of the country. It is likely to require a sunny position in a light well-drained soil.
A gum from the seeds is used for chewing[
]. Other reports say that the gum is obtained from the flowering stems[
]. Another report says that the roots were left in the sun until the gum came out and hardened, and this was then used for chewing[
Skeleton weed was employed medicinally by various native North American Indian tribes who used it particularly as a galactogogue[
]. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism.
The leaves and stems are galactogogue and tonic[
]. An infusion of the stems has been used to promote milk flow in nursing mothers, in the treatment of smallpox, measles, kidney problems, diarrhoea, heartburn and burning coughs and also as a general tonic for children[
]. A poultice of the plant has been applied to bring relief to rheumatic and swollen joints[
]. An infusion has been used as a wash for sore eyes[
An infusion of the powdered galls that are found on the plant is diuretic[
An infusion of the stems, mixed with oil, has been used as a hair tonic[
The crushed stems have been used as foot pads in shoes[
Seed - sow spring in a cold frame and only just cover the seed. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Division can be tried in the spring.