In a month about giving thanks, we thought we'd show our gratitude to California native plants that are as useful as they are beautiful.
Sage, also known as salvia, crops up all over Southern California, known for its aromatic leaves and manymedicinal and sacred uses. The Chumash Indians considered white sage particularly useful. They made tea with it, sucked on its leaves to soothe sore throats, and even used it to make shampoo and soap. You can do so too -- take a few of its soft, fuzzy leaves and rub them between your hands under water to make a lather and a natural deodorant.
Another useful plant is the wildflower called gum plant or gumweed. This bright sunflower-like plant has soothed poison oak rashes for centuries. The sticky, white resin or "gum" covering its unopened flower buds used to be used as a salve on poison oak rashes. You'll find the ingredient in some modern-day creams, too. The long-blooming yellow flower brings cheerful summer color to gardens as well good food for bees and birds.