a-plant-a-day-20

Pima ratany: Krameria erecta, Krameriaceae (ratany family)

Another day in parasite. Only two species of the ratany family grow here in California, and they both operate by clinging to the roots of host plants, nursing nutrients. 

I've been wondering when I'd stumble across this one, since it's fairly common and has an extensive reputation as a medicinal plant. The rootbark contains the most powerful medicine, and due to its astringent, drying properties, ratany can be helpful for a host of conditions: excessive sweating; gingivitis and other gum diseases; hemorrhoids and diarrhea; topically applied to sooth wet, weepy open wounds; profuse bleeding in women going through menopause.

Despite the fact that pima ratany bears exotic magenta blooms that—alongside their plump seed pods that sport funky red spikes—appear almost tropical, this plant is easily overlooked. Growing fairly low to the ground, the deep pink claw-like flowers get lost in the similarly darkly valued grays of twigs, and the twigs resemble so many other shrubs that they recede into a neutral desert backdrop. A modest mound.