Snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae)

Other Names: broom snakeweed

Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower family)

Description: usually grows no more than 2 feet tall. Trunk is very short, giving the appearance of a short woody base. Stems are generally flexible green-brown. Narrow leaves may be as long as 3 inches. They may be slightly barbed along their margins and smell faintly of turpentine. Small yellow flowers at shoot tips appear in the fall.

Range: occurs throughout the western United States from California to Kansas, north into Canada, and south to Texas. It can be found throughout Colorado National Monument.

Did you know: it has been said that a poultice of ground and boiled leaves of the snakeweed can be used to treat snake bites in sheep, hence the common name of this broom-like plant. Native peoples of the southwest and Midwest have also used snakeweed medicinally in various ways throughout their history. For example, the Lakota used a decoction of the plant to treat cold, cough, and dizziness, and the Navajo rubbed the ashes of the snakeweed on their bodies to treat headache and dizziness.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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