Useful Medicinal Plants of Texas and the southern plains – part 1

Most of the time people seem to believe powerful plant medicine comes from deep in the Amazon rainforest or some high hidden mountain in Peru, so it often comes as a surprise that functional phytochemistry is to be found in all kinds of plants wherever you are. Perhaps you may have wondered about the hidden mysteries held within your local plants. In this article I decided to start with four kinds of plants [Black Walnut – Mesquite – Juniper – Prickly Pear] that can be found almost anywhere in the state of Texas, the southern plains, across most of the United States and world.
Black walnut is a well-known tree for its tasty nutmeat and expensive, beautiful veneer wood. There is an eastern variety of black walnut named ‘Cannonball’ with gigantic fruit all the way down to the Nogalito or ‘little walnut’ which grows from the center of Texas west to New Mexico. Black Walnut exudes a chemical called juglone that is antithetical to the growth of many other kinds of plants. The primary medicinal part is the inner hull surrounding the nut once they have fallen from the tree and turned black. This material has strong antifungal/ antiviral properties and can be used as a poultice for maladies from ringworm to athlete’s foot or treatment of internal parasites.
Mesquite is, of course, synonymous with the southwestern U.S. Much hated and maligned by ranchers for its thorns and persistent nature, mesquite actually is a legume that fixes nitrogen and produces sweet edible beans for people and livestock. Mesquites were seldom seen when prairie dogs were common, as they devour the trees. Honey from mesquite flowers is one of the best. Grass actually grows better under an open-canopy mesquite savannah. The Tamarugo mesquite grows in the Atacama desert on less than 3 inches of rainfall. Medicinally it has traditionally been used for eye conditions, open wounds, skin ailments and digestive problems. Extracts of mesquite also have antibiotic and antibacterial properties……….


Ben Tyler,