Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sacred Datura or Jimson Weed

Sacred Datura plant
Sacred Datura blossoms

Sacred Datura, or Jimson Weed  is one of the desert's most recognizable plants.  Although it doesn't grow in Pine Valley, it can be seen all along the roads through Dammeron Valley and Veyo at this time of the year.

Sacred Datura is one of the most toxic plants known.  The lives of many adults and children have been lost after the leaves, stems or fruits have been eaten.  All parts of the plants have a powerful hallucinogen that was used by native shamans in their rituals.  One interesting ritual involved feeding children who had reached puberty some of the plant.  It was believed that if the child survived, the gods meant that child to live (!).

Some other traditional uses of Datura, or Jimson Weed, was to make a paste from the leaves and stems for broken bones or swollen joints to reduce or eliminate pain.  Inhaling the fumes of burning leaves was used for respiratory ailments.  The Navajos were reported to grind the entire fruit, mix the seeds and pulp with special clay and then use the mixture as a food.

Extreme caution should be used in approaching the plant with anything but a camera.  Isn't it interesting that something so dangerous should be so pretty?  Please take this information for interest and education only, and see your medical care provider if you have medical needs.

By Laura Bergeson

Rubber Rabbitbrush

Rubber Rabbitbrush

Now that Fall is approaching in Pine Valley, watch for the brilliant yellow flowers of  Ericameria nauseosa or Rubber Rabbitbrush.  This plant has a pungent smell, which has earned it the name "nauseosa".  It is often used to great advantage in xeriscaping in desert areas, and is an important source of browse for deer in the winter.

The Zuni used rabbitbrush  flowerheads for a yellow dye, and the flexible stems for making baskets.  The rubbery latex sap that runs from a broken stem was used to waterproof the baskets.  The root sap has been used to make a chewing gum, and the stinky leaves have the reputation of being repellent to insects.  The cottony heads of the maturing rabbitbrush have been harvested and used as pillow stuffing, which I think would be rather sneezy to sleep on!

In modern times, rabbitbrush has been scientifically studied as a source of rubber during both world wars and as recently as 1987.  Currently it is being researched as a hypoallergenic rubber for those who have latex allergies.  Look for rabbitbrush along the roadsides as it will be blooming through October.

By Laura Bergeson

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Your Cougar's Cousin

Since we haven't been in Pine Valley recently to catch any mountain lions in action, I thought I would post a picture of one of his cousins that we've run into lately (thankfully from the safety of a game drive vehicle.) Most people know that the cheetah is the fastest land animal, running up to 75 miles per hour over relatively short distances. They can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 3 seconds! These guys weren't in any hurry to accelerate anywhere though. They had the important job of marking their territory to get done, so they were pretty oblivious to our watching them. Sadly for them all of their activity is in vain since there aren't any female cheetahs in that park right now. They are trying to get some but I guess you can't order them from Amazon :) Enjoy the rest of summer Pine Valley; we are just starting to warm up from winter on the other side of the world. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sweet Clover

Sweet clover is an herb that grows along the roadsides in Pine Valley.  It has white or yellow flowers, smells of vanilla and has been used for fodder for cows.  The flowering branches and leaves have also been used to make medicine.

Sweet clover has been  used to increase the loss of water from the body through the urine (as a diuretic). It is also used for varicose veins and to relieve symptoms of poor blood circulation (chronic venous insufficiency) including leg pain and heaviness, night cramps, itchiness, and fluid retention or edema.

Sweet clover is sometimes currently used along with regular medicines for treatment of blood clots in the veins, as it is a source of coumarin.  It is the coumarin that gives sweet clover the vanilla scent.

Other uses have included treatment of hemorrhoids and blockages of the lymphatic system.  Some people apply sweet clover directly to the skin for bruises, or make a salve with it to treat bug bites.  Sweet clover is also an ingredient in herbal teas.

**This information is for educational purposes only.  If you have a medical condition, please contact your health care provider for expert advice.
by Laura Bergeson

Prostrate Vervain

You may have seen this low lying, circular plant in your driveway or yard and not known what to call it. Prostrate Vervain, or Verbena bracteata, is a slender perennial plant with small, pale lilac flowers borne on leafless spikes.

It is indigenous to the Mediterranean area but has been cultivated widely throughout eastern Europe, North Africa, China, and Japan. The name “verbenae” originally was used in Roman times to describe all plants used on altars for their aromatic qualities.

The aerial parts have been used traditionally for many conditions, including stimulation of lactation and treatment of dysmenorrhea.  
Healers have also used prostrate vervain for jaundice, gout, kidney stones, headache, depression, anxiety, and insomnia.  The Navajo used the stems and leaves to make a poultice to treat centipede bites.  Vervain is  considered  astringent, a bitter digestive tonic, and a diuretic.

Prostrate Vervain stems , leaves and flowers

**This information is just for fun and knowledge.  It is not meant to encourage you to treat any ailments without competent medical advice.  Thank you.

by Laura Bergeson

The three 80 year olds!!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Pine Valley Fishermen's society members

Layne Frei, Gerald Schiefer, Hugh Johnson with their 80 yrs old Birthday cake - them, not the cake! AND the plaque for the Pine Valley Fishermen's Society.  Hugh will keep it for the rest of 2014 or until someone catches a big fish, has it weighed and measured with the help of another society member (anyone in the Valley 65 or older), caught from the Pine Valley Reservoir. The next 10 years the plaque will be passed to the 'Owner' of the biggest fish. So, men. Get fishing!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Washington County Emergency Alert System; Register Now

New Alert System will help Washington County Residents Receive Information and Warnings Quicker
by Pete Kuhlmann, Washington County Office of Emergency Services
Published - 08/04/14 - 09:16 AM

(ST. GEORGE, Utah) - In an emergency the ability to receive information and warnings can mean the difference between life and death. To assist in providing information to the public, Washington County Emergency Response agencies are using the Everbridge Emergency Alert System. The system allows us to contact residents by text, phone or email to alert them to emergencies in their neighborhoods. The system allows emergency managers to send out critical information to multiple residents and locations quickly allowing for the rapid dissemination of alerts, evacuations and other emergency messages. The system can also be used to alert residents to planned events such as water repair shut-offs, planned power outages, and road closures.

The system uses existing landline phone data to allow for contact. If you are using a cell phone or computer based VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) system, you may not be included in the data base. You can register your cell phone or VOIP based phone with your address to allow you to receive messages on the system that will help keep you informed of emergencies happening in your neighborhood. You can customize how you will receive messages and can define what messages you will receive by registering on the system.

Registration is easy. You can register on the internet at The registration portal allows VOIP and cell phone users to add their address, contact information and phone numbers to the Emergency Alert database, and to select the types of alerts they will receive. If you are a Century Link customer, with a home based, landline phone, your home number should already be in the database. Registering allows you to select the types of alerts you will receive on your home phone and you can add your cell number to allow you to receive alerts even if you are away from your home phone. You can register up to three phone numbers.

Washington County Emergency Services and our emergency response partners encourage all county residents to use the portal to register and insure we are able to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. “IF WE CAN’T REACH YOU, WE CAN’T ALERT YOU.” If you have trouble registering or have other questions you can contact Washington County Emergency Services at(435)634-5734. We will be happy to assist you in registering to help enhance your ability to receive critical information in times of emergency.

Read more: KCSG Television - New Alert System will help Washington County Residents Receive Information and Warnings Quicker