Warrior’s Plume (Pedicularis Densiflora)
by Jamie Scepkowski
Pedicularis densiflora, also known as Indian Warrior or Warrior’s Plume, has been one of my most trusted allies here in the Northwest. She is native to the US in California and Oregon, and is a perennial herb, meaning she lives for years in the same location.
She stands strong, low to the ground, she knows her place, spread wide under the oak trees. She has deep green leaves tinted magenta, fern like, with beautiful magenta flowers rising from the center to form a long bud. She is a semi-parasitic plant, meaning she attaches to the roots of other plants to obtain water and nutrients. I utilize extra caution when working with her, because if she’s growing near a toxic plant, say Poison Oak, or Hemlock, you may be burdened with the effects of those plants as well, as she absorbs those toxic phytochemicals. It’s important to note, however, that she has the ability to grow on her own as well.
In my experience, Pedicularis densiflora has been the most potent species of Pedicularis I’ve worked with. She’s known for her uses as a powerful skeletal muscle relaxant, as well as her support in treating anxiety, nerve pain, tension, and insomnia. Its effects are non-narcotic which makes it easy to function in day to day life while benefiting from her medicinal magic! It is important to note that for some it can cause a sense of spaciness, so as with all plants, use caution. Also keep in mind that although Pedicularis densiflora can decrease pain, it doesn’t treat the underlying cause of the pain. Be sure to continue to care for your body, you wouldn’t want to risk a re-injury!
Sustainable and ethical wild harvesting is an important part of my world, as i spend much of my time in the wild gathering plant medicine and tending to the wild patches i return to each year. I follow the United Plant Savers guide to wildcrafting, never closer than 20 feet from a county road, or 50 from a major road, and never harvesting more than 5% of a wild stand. I generally tend the same wild patches each year, going back periodically to spread seed, propagate roots, and keep an eye on how my harvesting is impacting the area. Please source cautiously. Know where your medicine comes from, who harvested it. Never, ever take more than you need.
I prefer to make a tea of the buds of the plant, making an infusion using 2-4 teaspoons or so of the herb to 2 cups of hot water. Because its window of blooming is short, I make a batch of tincture each year as well. I suggest starting with a drop dose, 2-4 drops of tincture, to get to know her, before potentially increasing to a dosage of 1-2 droppers full every 2-3 hour. Pedicularis is not a pregnancy or breastfeeding safe herb, and as always, consult with a trusted healthcare provider before starting any herbal regimen.
Be with the plants and be healed!!!
None of the Pedicularis species are pregnancy or breastfeeding safe herbs. As always, consult with a trusted healthcare provider before adding any herb into your herbal regimen.
Jamie Scepkowski is an herbalist and medic in Salmon River, California. You can contact her at Salmon River Apothecary and Gifts. This is a small herbal apothecary located in downtown Ft. Jones, California offering quality handmade herbal products and locally made gifts. She is available on Facebook at both the apothecary and the gift store. Look for her lovely herbal products on Etsy.
Pedicularis Densiflora ID Recap
by Sue Sierralupe
Pedicularis species belong to the Scrophulariaceae (figwort) family. The densiflora species is native to Oregon and California at mid to high elevations. They are parasitic, low growing plants with stout, green or sometimes reddish to purplish stems and fern-shaped, green (pinnate) leaves. They bloom anywhere from winter to early summer. Look for long spikes of deep red to pink flowers with toothed petals with straight upper “beaks” and a lower lip that houses 3 small lobes.