Part of the Lizard Tail Family, Anemopsis californica, is an incredibly aroma filled perennial that has thick wood-like rhizomes. Large, oblong basal-like leaves grow to be about 6 inches long, the base is shapely like a heart, and has teeth-less margins. In the months between March and September this plant will have tiny white flowers in the shape of a cone spike and very dense. Under that, larger petals or bracts appear under the spikes to make it seem like a single flower. The bracts and some of the spikes tend to have red spots all over it as if blood was splattered on it.
You can find this plant in Colorado, west Utah, Nevada, south to west Texas, northwest Arizona, Mexico, Baja California, southern California, and southern Oregon. In moist or wet areas in alkaline or saline soils, seeps, springs, and marshes along the coast.
This is a very important plant to the southwestern Indians and became know as the “herb of the Manzo” when they showed it to the Spanish. A tea made from the root can be used to treat stomachaches, colds, menstrual cramps, itchy throat, and body pain. This tea is also thought to help relieve the symptoms of ulcers, tuberculosis, diabetes, gonorrhea, and pleurisy. Dry roots can be held in the cheek to cure sore throats. The root tea has external uses as well; as an antiseptic wash and sores (venereal). You can boil and mash up the roots and apply it to swollen areas. Making a powder of the leaves will make a perfect disinfectant for wounds and helps to promote healthy tissue. A poultice made of chewed leaves can be used to bring down inflammation from burns and and open wounds. This plant has also been used in more recent years as a respiratory and digestive tea as well an anti-inflammatory.