Chaparral Herb

Chaparral Herb

Also known as

Larrea tridentata, Creosote Bush, Stinkweed, Greasewood, Chaparro Gobernadora, and Hediondilla.


Now found throughout the Southwestern US (in the desert), chaparral originated in Argentina several thousand years ago. The stems and leaves of the bush are covered with a sticky resin that screens leaves against ultraviolet radiation, reduces water loss, and poisons/repels most herbivores.

This resin is used in herbal medicine and to protect wood from insects. It received its name "creosote bush" due to the smell that comes from it when it rains. It's extremely bitter taste keeps it safe from animals that would otherwise graze upon it. It is also regarded as one of the most adaptable desert plants in the world; it was one of the first to grow back in Yucca Flats after the 1962 nuclear bomb tests done there.


Alpha-pinene, amino acids, beta-pinene, cobalt, gossypetin, limonene, nordihydroguaiaretic acid or NDGA, zinc.

Parts Used

The part you want is the leaves, but only after you've dried them for two months. It's toxic to the liver if not dried for two months. During the two months it will oxidize and become safe to consume. (With most foods, we're aiming to prevent oxidization. In this case, we're doing the opposite.)

You're not going to want to turn these leaves into tea because of it's bitter taste. Also, when you make a tea the resin will stick to the pan and you'll lose a lot of the active components.

You may sprinkle dried chaparral over a salad. Another way to use it is in smoothies, but like kelp or cayenne, don't over do it.

Typical Preparations

It was discovered in the University of Nevada and the University of Utah that this plant will fight cancer cells and tumors. It contains NDGA (Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid) which is a highly powerful antioxidant.
Tinctures used to make creams and lotions for external use.


Chaparral contains lignans that are very similar to estrogen, giving it an effect on the skin similar to that of soy taken internally.

Applied to the skin, chaparral can have a remarkable healing effect on eczema, herpes, cold sores, psoriasis, and contact dermatitis.

Internally can be used after drying the leaves for two months to fight and prevent tumors and cancer.

Want to know more?

I learned about chaparral and dozens of other wild medicines from Markus Rothkranz's DVD set, Free Food and Medicine. I highly recommend it as a guide to wild edibles for both sustenance and medicine. The investment is highly worth while. I easily saved the amount I paid for the DVDs within my first few months of harvesting free food in my local vicinity.

~ Raederle Phoenix
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