By Wendy Langhans
It’s a product just made for cable TV! A cleaning sensation – laundry soap and a broom! A shampoo that does wonders for dandruff! A fisherman’s secret weapon! Glue! A tasty and nutritious treat! And…it’s also good for cuts, muscle aches, water retention and stomach aches! What is this miracle product, you may ask? It’s Chlorogalum pomeridianum, otherwise know as Wavyleaf soap plant.
Photo courtesy S. Ioerger.
According to this website, “Chlorogalum pomeridianum occupies dry open hills and plains below 5,000 feet, chiefly in the valley grassland, coastal sage scrub, chaparral and foothill woodland plant communities, from southern Oregon to San Diego County, California.” Native Americans and early settlers used this plant in a variety of ways.
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Laundry detergent. After the fiberous coating was removed, the bulb was crushed and rubbed on clothes to create a soapy lather. Think “Oxy-clean”.
Shampoo. Same preparation. Rubbed on wet hands or head. Supposedly leaves your hair soft and shiny. Think “Head and Shoulders”.
Broom. The bulb fibers were collected and made into brushes and small brooms. Think “Swiffer”.
Food. The bulbs were dried for storage. Later, they were slow roasted overnight in a stone-lined pit. According to one source, they taste a bit like sweet potatoes. Think “Top Chef on Bravo”.
Glue. The sap that oozed out of the bulbs as they baked was used to attach feathers to the shaft of an arrow. Think “Super Glue”.
Fishing. According to Early Uses of California Plants, whole plants, including green leaves and bulbs, were crushed and thrown into “carefully dammed streams” to “stupefy the fish”. The fish rose to the surface, where they were gathered by the waiting fishermen. (Warning: this practice is illegal in California.) Think “Pocket Fisherman by Ronco”.
Medicine. Roasted bulbs were used as a poultice, while fresh bulbs were rubbed on the body. Think “Icy Hot” or “Band-Aid”.
I’m amazed at all the ways Wavyleaf soap plant could be advertised on late-night TV. Why, advertising revenues alone could keep at least one cable TV channel afloat. Perhaps I ought to have a talk with the Sales Manager at KHTS.
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
Saturday, March 12 – Sunday, May 29, SCV Search & Rescue Trail Challenge 2011: 12 Weeks/12 Hikes. Click here for more information.
Saturday, May 14, 1 – 3 PM, Water-Loving Wildflowers at Elsmere Canyon. The small steam in Elsmere Canyon has its own special set of wildflowers. Savor the cool shade and its floral inhabitants on this easy hike. Meet at the Whitney Canyon parking lot. For directions and trail maps, click here.
Saturday, May 21, 8 – 10 AM, Early Morning Bird Hike at Towsley Canyon. Will you be able to identify the birds you find? Don’t worry, Volunteer Naturalist Roger has plenty of experience to help you out. Let your eyes spy the many birds at Towsley Canyon on this easy walk. Binoculars optional. Meet at the Towsley Canyon front parking lot. For directions and trail maps, click here.
Trail Maintenance Schedule. Come join our volunteers as they help maintain our trails. Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org for time and place.
Wednesday mornings, May 4, 11, 18, 25.
Saturday mornings, May 14, 28.
For a glimpse of our local flowering plants, check out the Facebook page, “90 Days of Santa Clarita Valley Wildflowers”.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on “The SCV Outdoor Report”, brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
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