This species (as Cowania mexicana D.Don) has often been treated to include Purshia stansburyana (Torr.) Henrickson (syn Cowania mexicana var. stansburyana (Torr.) Jeps.). Many of the uses attributed to Purshia mexicana, especially uses attributed to native peoples in the USA, should more correctly be attribited to Purshia stansburiana[
Cowania mexicana D.Don
Cowania purpurea Zucc.
Greggia purpurea Engelm. ex Hemsl.
Common Name: Cliffrose
Purshia mexicana is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 2 metres tal
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of materials..
South-western N. America - western Mexico
Dry rocky slopes and mesas; usually at elevations from 1,050 - 2,400 metres[
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Purshia mexicana is a native to the semi-arid regions of western Mexico. It is unlikely to succeed outdoors in any but the mildest areas of the temperate zone, probably enjoying a mediterranean-type climate with hot, dry summers and mild winters.
Requires a very sunny position[
] and a calcareous soil[
]. This species is also likely to require a very well-drained light or medium soil[
The flowers are resinous and strongly fragrant[
A decoction of the green branches, together with sagebrush (Artemisia spp) and juniper (Juniperus spp) has been used as an expectorant and laxative treatment for colds[
A decoction of the leaves and flowering stems has been used to treat venereal disease and pains over the kidneys[
The leaves have been chewed in the treatment of arthritis[
The leaves have been made into a tea for bathing and cleansing the skin[
]. It is an antiseptic wash, used for treating smallpox or measles[
The fibres in the bark have been used for making sandals, rope, sleeping mats and clothing[
The bark has been crushed, rubbed until soft and then used as a lining in shoes to keep the feet warm[
]. It has also been used as an absorbent nappy for babies and as a soft surface for babies to lay on in cradles[
The fine, soft bark has been used as a tinder when starting fires with a fire drill[
Seed - we have no information for this species, but suggest sowing the seed in spring in a greenhouse. 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.