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20 years overseas! Read about Leon's life overseas.


Flowers & Plants of Utah

Photography and Descriptions by Leon of Leon's Planet 2019

SET #1:  Cascade Springs, Utah

Fool's Onion / White Hyacinth

Scientific Name:  Brodinaea douglasii

Food:  roots are edible, can be eaten fresh, but taste better cooked.

Lore:  White Hyacinth is said to have magical powers, and was included in many a medicine bag.

The photograph doesn't do it justice.  It was actually more of a cross between indigo and violet in color.

This was probably my favorite, because that's my favorite color.

Source of information:
Kershaw, L.  Edible & Medicinal Plants of the Rockies.  Partners Publishing.  2016.

This is another photo I took.

Wild Sweet Pea or Sweet Vetch

Scientific Name of Pea:  Fabaceae _______
Scientific Name of Vetch:  Hedysarum ______
I'm not sure if this is a pea or a vetch.  It matches the pictures of peas more than vetches that I've seen on the web.  It's probably a sweet vetch, because of where I found it.

Food:  If it is a pea plant, then of course the peas in the pod are edible.  If it is a vetch, it is not known if the seeds are edible or not.  Vetch roots are edible and were used as food by indigenous peoples.  In fact, Sweet Vetch is also called, "Licorice Root," because it is sweet and tastes like licorice.

You've got Gambel Oak (or "Scrub Oak") in the background and foreground, which is plentiful in the area.

Food:  The Gambel Oak acorns can be eaten after boiling with several changes of water, until the water no longer turns brown.  Do so!  It removes the tannin, which is poisonous.

Medicine:  One can make a tea out of the bark of the Gambel Oak and used as a wash (for cuts/scrapes) because it contains tannin, which is an antibacterial and antiviral; or it can be uses as a gargle to ease gum and tooth pain.

For other uses see:
Kershaw, L.  Edible & Medicinal Plants of the Rockies.  Partners Publishing.  2016.

Yellow Monkey Flower

Scientific Name:  E. guttata (Formerly:  M. guttata)


Food:  leaves can be eaten raw or cooked.


Habitat:  As you can see, they live in/near streams.  Wikipedias says that Monkey Flower lives from sea level to 12,ooo ft.  Cascade Springs is about 9,ooo ft above sea level.


Source:  Wikipedia

Flowering Sage Brush

Scientific Name:  Artemisia tridentata

Food:  leaves can be used in cooking to add flavor, but should be eaten sparsely.  Some people are allergic to the plant and it can be toxic in overeating.

Medicine:  the leaves can be made into a tea to break up mucus and induce sweating to help with viral infecions.  It is also a good inhalant.  Makes a good foot soak.

Source for information:
Morgan, L.  Foraging the Rock Mountains.  Rowman & Littlefied.  2013.

Monkshood (Wolf's Bane, Devil's Helmet)

Scientific Name:  Aconitum

Story:  So, my son and I were walking around the Spring, when came across a beautiful specimen of this species, and I thought, "Oh, how pretty!"  Then, I stuck my nose right up into the flower and took a whiff.  I touched it--felt the leaves and the petals of the flower, admiringly.  Then, my son and I read the plaque next to it.  Apparently, the plant is so poisonous that it is deadly.  Just touching it can cause paralysis.  Sniffing it can cause asphyxiation.

I immediately went to the stream and washed my face and hands.

I survived this femme fatale!


Food:  No!

Medicine:  No!

Death:  Yes!

I don't know what this is.

If you know what it is, please contact me.

Are these both the same plant?

Maybe an apple or pear?

Melody W. tells me that it could be a serviceberry (AKA:  June berry, Saskatoon berry), which is edible.

I don't know what this is.

If you know what it is, please contact me.

Melody W. says that it is probably Hound's Tongue, and I agree.  (Thanks a mil, Melody!)


...is a very medicinal plant with a wide variety of uses.

It should not be used as food.

Black Chokecherry?
I don't know what this is.

If you know what it is, please contact me.


I don't know what this is.

If you know what it is, please contact me.


SET #2:  South Jordan, Utah

Medicine:  Kershaw, 2016 tells us that a tea made from the plant has been used to cure all kinds of digestive problems, including to kill intestinal worms.  But, she doesn't tell us from which part of the plant we should make the tea.  She also tells us that the tea can be used as a wash for pimples, rashes, and various skin conditions.  Tea from the roots can relieve diarrhea.

Stary, 1991, tells us that it's the fruit of the plant that is used medicinally.  It contains flavonolignans, which is harvested by pharmaceutical companies to treat all manner of liver ailments and to treat gallstones.  Flavonolignans have a detoxifying effect.

Stary, F.  The natural guide to Medicinal Herbs and Plants.  Barnes and Nobel Books.  New York.  2013.

Common Thistle, or Spear Thistle, or Bull Thistle

Scientific Name:  Cirsium vulgare

Food:  Yes.  Basically, the whole plant is edible, but you've got to get past the prickles.  

pic by Leon. Thistle flower
The flower petals can be used as chewing gum.  The young flower buds can be boiled and eaten like artichoke hearts.
(Kershaw, 2016)
The leaves and stalk

The leaves and stalk are edible, but you've got to peel off the outer layer which has all the prickles.  Can be eaten raw or cooked.
(Kershaw, 2016)
(Morgan, L.  2013)

NOTE:  to peel off the outer layer, it is suggested to start from the bottom and use a sharp knife.


Sunflower  (Common Sunflower)

Scientific Name:  Helianthus annuus

Food:  the flowers, seeds and oil are all edible.
You can even make milk from the seeds.  Morgan, 2013 gives instructions on how to do so.

The seeds are so oily that when pressed, you can make a meal, like peanut butter.  Source:  Yetman, D.  50 Common Edible & Useful Plants of the Southwest.  Western National Parks Association.  2009.

Medicine:  the flowers were used to make teas to treat laryngitis and relieve coughs, and even lung problems.  A tea from the leaves was used to treat high fevers.
(Kershaw, 2016).


Set #3:  The Palisades, Utah

Water Smartweed

Scientific Name:  Polygonum amphibium

Food:  Yes! Native Americans used the plant as a food source, but we are not told which part by the US Forest Service.

Medicine:  Yes!  All parts were used, but for which ailments?

Source of info:  U.S. Forest Service

The Survival-Manual.com says that the stems and leaves are edible, but should be cooked to remove the oxalic acid.  (I'm guessing that means boiled and the water tossed.)

Morning Glory?

Well, it is a kind of Morning Glory, called Bindweed

Scientific Name:  Convolvulus arvensis var. linearifolius

Some people consider them weeds.  I think they are pretty.  They are very hard to get rid of, because their roots go very, very deep.  Farmers don't like 'em.

Source:  Wikipedia

Food:  Leaves and roots can be eaten when cooked, but it is not recommended due to the high amounts of alkaloids.

Source:  Eatweeds.co.uk




If this is a Canby's Lovage, it is very medicinal; But, if it is a hemlock, ingesting it will kill you.  I'm pretty sure it's not a water hemlock, even though it is right near some water.

How to identify water hemlock.

Canby's Lovage, or Poison Hemlock, or Water Hemlock, or
Cow Parsley ???????

Anybody?  Contact me.

Here's a close-up of the leaves:

To me, it looks like Canby's Lovage, which is edible; but, there are many look-alikes, such as the Hemlocks, which are among the most poisonous plants on the planet, and Water Hemlock is the most poisonous plant on the North American continent.  Hemlocks will kill you, so beware.









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