Saturday, June 28, 2014


            Beautiful examples of wild yarrow are blooming in Pine Valley right now.  The sparks of white flowers show up so clearly against the dark green of surrounding foilage on the roadsides, hillsides and low mountains where it is found. Look for a plant about a foot to three feet tall, with ferny leaves and white flowers in delicate flat heads.

Achillea is the generic name of the yarrow plant because legend says that Achilles used it to stop the bleeding wounds of his soldiers.  Because of this, yarrow has  been called Soldier's Wound Wort or the Military Herb.

The Mormon prophet Brigham Young said of yarrow "Fortunate is the person who knows how to use yarrow in the last days."    Yarrow, along with peppermint and elderberry flowers, made a tea that was traditionally used by colonists and pioneers as a remedy for influenza.    It has also been used in an emergency to stop a tooth ache and to promote sweating in the case of a stubborn fever.

Wild yarrow is stronger medicinally than the yellow or pink yarrows that are grown as decorative flowers.

*This article is for educational and historical information and interest, and is not meant to diagnose or prescribe for any illness or condition.                                                                      


Don't toss the purslane - eat it instead!

Purslane is happily growing in our garden. I didn't plant it, the critters don't touch it, it doesn't need any special nutrients, and it is probably more nutritious than all the other plants in the garden that I DID plant. It is the highest of any vegetable in omega fatty acids!

We use it raw in salads and smoothies as it has a mild flavor and is slightly lemony. You can steam or stir fry or use it in a tempura batter.  There is a reason that purslane was Ghandi's favorite vegetable!  It is very delicious.

Look for a low growing succulent plant with a reddish stem that is juicy and thick.  The leaves grow right off the stem and are paddle shaped.   Be sure not to confuse purslane with spurge, which has wiry stems and is poisonous! 

Purslane Leaves and Stems

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sego Lilies are now in bloom

Sego lily - click to see all state flowers

Sego Lily blossoms can now be seen throughout Pine Valley.  The bulblike root was long harvested for food by both the native people and white settlers.  Now the Sego Lily is designated the state flower of Utah and is protected from gathering.  Look for a beautiful tulip-like three petaled flower on a 4 to 18 inch  blue- green stem with a few narrow leaves.  There are a few growing along the River Walkway in the recreation area.  Most often they are found in sunny meadows and on grassy hillsides and are easy to see once you know what they look like.  Also called Mariposa Lilies, they come in shades from white to lavender.

4th of July Celebration

Pine Valley Band and Parade

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Fire Restrictions to be Implemented in Washington Co. Utah and Northwest Arizona

Fire Restrictions to be Implemented in
Washington Co. Utah and Northwest Arizona

Due to recent dry conditions and high fire danger in Washington County Utah and northwest Arizona, Color Country Interagency Fire Managers are implementing Stage 1 fire restrictions beginning Wednesday, June 18th at 12 a.m.   The following describes the restrictions to be implemented by each fire management agency in Color Country.

Unincorporated Privately Owned and All State Owned Lands in Washington County (UT Division of Forestry Fire and State Lands):
The following acts will be prohibited until further notice: 

·         Setting, building, maintaining, attending or using open fire of any kind, except campfires and charcoal fires within agency approved fire pits and grills provided in developed recreation sites and picnic areas or at permanently improved places of habitation (contact Forestry, Fire and State Lands for further information).  Devices fueled by petroleum or LPG products are allowed in all locations.
·         Smoking except in enclosed vehicle or building, or a developed recreation site or cleared areas of a minimum of three (3) feet in diameter down to mineral soil.
·         Discharging, or using any kind of fireworks, tracer ammunition or other pyrotechnic devices.
·         The cutting, welding or grinding of metal in areas of dry vegetation.
·         Use of exploding targets that are detonated when struck by a projectile such as a bullet.

These restrictions do not apply to incorporated towns and cities except for state owned lands within incorporated towns and cities. Please contact the local fire agency for any restrictions that may apply.

Dixie National Forest, Pine Valley Ranger District:  The following acts will be prohibited until further notice:

·         Igniting, building, maintaining, or using a fire, including charcoal and briquettes, outside a fire structure that is provided by the Forest Service within a designated area, (all developed recreation sites e.g., campgrounds and picnic areas, that are maintained and administered by the Forest Service, shown on the current Forest visitor maps, and have a permanent fire structure).  Stoves or grills that are fueled solely by liquid petroleum fuels are allowed in all locations.
·         Smoking outside an enclosed vehicle or building unless stopped in an area at least three (3) feet in diameter that is clear of all flammable materials.
·         Note that discharging, or using any kind of fireworks, tracer ammunition or other incendiary devices in any location on federal lands is always prohibited. 

For further information and to read the restrictions on the other areas, go to this link Fire Restrictions in Utah & Northwest Arizona

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Houndstongue is a Danger to Livestock and your Socks!

Houndstongue is a beautiful biennial that grows along the River Parkway in Pine Valley and in other places with disturbed soil.  It was introduced from Europe and has rough leaves that resemble a hound's tongue.  Growing 1 to 4 feet tall in its second year, Houndstongue forms small burrs that stick to dogs, livestock and clothing.  People often disregard it growing in their yards until they discover the burrs which have spread widely by that time.

Houndstongue is toxic, containing a liver damaging alkaloid.  Sheep, cattle and horses may die up to six months after consuming Houndstongue.

Keep an eye open for this plant!  It is not desirable in our yards or in the valley.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mullein Plants

Mullein plants are found all over Pine Valley, wherever there is disturbed soil.  They have soft fuzzy leaves that have earned them the name of "Boy Scout Toilet Paper".  The first year mullein grows as a basal rosette, and the second year it develops a tall spike with tiny yellow flowers on it.  
Mullein has had a myriad of uses in history. Every part of the plant is used at different times in its life cycle. The thick, soft leaves have been used in a tea to treat respiratory illness. They have been shown to loosen congestion and help clear the lungs. The tiny hairs on the leaves can be irritating, and any teas must be filtered very carefully to avoid this problem. The dry flower spikes were dipped in tallow and used in the Middle Ages as torches.
Native American people smoked cigarettes made of tobacco mixed with dried mullein for respiratory problems. They also used to throw dry mullein seeds into a pool of water.  The seeds had a narcotic effect and the fish would rise to the top of the pool where they could be easily gathered. 
Mullein flowers have been picked throughout the growing season, placed in olive oil and left to infuse in the sun. The resulting infusion was wonderful for earaches that did NOT involve a ruptured eardrum. Adding beeswax to the infused oil made a soothing balm for chapped skin. A baby's diaper area benefited from a light layer of this mullein balm.  Mullein root tea has been also used in urinary tract issues.
Finally, mullein is a wonderful indicator of a soil's contamination level. When looking for wild mullein, only harvest from straight, vigorous stalks. The crooked stalks indicate a high level of chemical contamination in the soil.
The next time mullein plants pop up in your yard, call them by name and give them some appreciation.  They are a great plant to know.
**This article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose, treat or give any medical advice whatsoever.