Cliffrose (Cowania mexicana)
Other Names: quininebush
Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)
Description: grows up to 6 m tall with trunk diameters up to 15 cm. Dark green, wedge-shaped leaves are thick and leathery and covered with resinous ducts. Bark is reddish-brown or grey and shredded in appearance. White flowers appear in the spring and summer. This species is evergreen.
Range: occurs throughout the Rocky Mountain Region from Utah to Colorado and south to New Mexico and Arizona. It grows throughout Colorado National Monument, but especially at cliff edges.
Did you know: the Ute people have used the leaves and bark of the cliffrose for many purposes throughout their history. Shredded cliffrose bark was known to the Utes to be highly absorbent and prevent rash, and it was often used for cradleboard lining, pillow stuffing, and matting. Inner bark, which has antiseptic properties, was used as eyewash, and the astringent leaves were used to clean wounds and treat skin irritations.
Did You Know?
Each Independence Day, local climbers scale the iconic Independence Monument in Colorado National Monument and raise an American flag on top. This tradition dates back to early park promoter John Otto, whose route up Independence Monument climbers still follow.