Plant of the Month ~~ January 2011
- Common Name(s): Indian Warrior
- Scientific Name: Pedicularis densiflora
- Family: Scrophulariaceae, Figwort family
- Plant Type: perennial herbaceous plant
- Size: 1/2 to 2 feet high
- Common Habitat: shaded areas in Chaparral
Indian Warrior is a low-growing plant with dense, deep-red or fuschia flower stalks. It normally appears in colonies and blooms from January through May.
The leaves are up to six inches long, mostly basal and fern shaped. When rainfall has been abundant, the plant is especially prolific. It is sometimes parasitic, usually attracted to the roots of manzanita if available.
The genus name Pedicularis means "louse" - it was once thought that the plant spread lice to cattle. The species name densiflora means (not surprisingly) "densely flowered". It is sometimes grouped into the broomrape family (Orobanchaceae) instead of the Figwort family. Medicinal uses of the plant have included relaxing tired muscles and addressing nerve pain. It also has a psychoactive use - the buds and flowers are sometimes smoked and used as a mild sedative.
Contributed by Liz Baumann
Curious what was featured in past Plants of the Month? Search the Archives.
References:Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains, by Milt McAuley
Flowering Plants: The Santa Monica Mountains, Coastal and Chaparral Regions of Southern California, by Nancy Dale
Roadside Plants of Southern California, by Thomas J. Belzer
California Native Plants for the Garden, by Carol Bornstein, David Fross, and Bart O'Brien
California Herbal Remedies, by LoLo Westrich