a-plant-a-day-11

Acton encelia: Encelia actoni, Asteraceae (sunflower family)

I wasn't inclined to identify any of the yellow daisy-like flowering shrubs, because I had assumed they were all Encelia farinosa, But the afternoon was overcast, and the yellow boundaries of a few lingering bushes were hovering above an otherwise gloomy green landscape. I took a specimen home and opened up the books. Turns out, it's not E. farinosa, but E. actoni, a near identical twin.

I thought about why I have this built-in repellent when it comes to these ubiquitous golden bushes. And I can only imagine, because when one sees too much of something, they tire of it. I remember driving down the hill on my way to I-10 about a month ago, and the entire west side of highway 62 was blanketed in a green-ish gold hue. It was pretty magical, to see the landscape, shadows and all, transformed into a sunny monochrome image. And then, they were everywhere. And they just became kind of mundane. Maybe even irritating, when I remembered a few foraging trips in the winter, looking for white sage and continually being riddled by these plants whose leaves have roughly the same shape and silvery muted green color as the sacred sage. But as the horizon dulls and the colors begin to wither with warmer, lengthened days, a little yellow pop was kind of a treasure.

I haven't found any ethnographic information on this species, but E. farinosa (Brittlebush) can be prepared as an internal or external remedy for arthritis, and can help defend against allergies, and has both astringent and anti-inflammatory properties.