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AKA: Grindelia, Curlycup gumweed, Rosinweed, Resinweed, Compass Plant.


Gumweed is from the sunflower family and is a roadside flower. It is easy to recognize by their spines around the flower buds and is also “gummy”. If you touch the buds or flowers, you will get sticky stuff on your fingers. It is a short-lived perennial of lightly disturbed sites not generally found west of Nebraska/Texas/South Dakota. In nature, lightly disturbed areas were small fires or the edges of buffalo wallows and prairie dog towns. Curlycup gumweed is used as an ornamental plant. It produces flowers over a long period, even when the soil is poor and dry. An erect, tall forb, growing 1 to 3 feet tall, with 1 to several branched stems. Grows from a taproot, branching above. Starts growth in early spring, flowers July to August, reproduces from seeds. The flowers are yellow and about an inch wide with sessile leaves that are slightly serrate which often turn at right angle to the sun. There are 29 different species found of Gumweed, Curlycup being one of them.

History & Folklore:

Gumweed is native to the U.S. Native Americans used it as chewing gum by chewing on the buds or flowers. It was also used by the Native Americans as treatment for skin and respiratory issues extensively. They also used it as a wash for poison oak rashes, burns and pulmonary issues. It was officially recognized and introduced in the Pharmacopoeia of the United States from 1882 to about 1926.


Helps with upper respiratory issues. It is antibacterial and antifungal. Native American’s used it as a disinfectant for skin problems. Treats poison ivy & poison Oak, burns, pulmonary issues, and the extract is valuable as a stimulant, sedative, astringent, purgative, emetic, diuretic, antiseptic, and disinfectant. It was also believed to treat gonorrhea and syphilis, inflammation, menstrual and postpartum pain, colic, digestive ailments, liver problems and as kidney medicine. The fresh gum was rubbed on the eyelids to treat snow-blindness. It was listed as an official drug in the United States Pharmacopoeia until 1960.

***The herb is contraindicated for patients with kidney or heart complaints. There may be concentrated levels of selenium as it is a facultative selenium absorber. So extended use or large amounts could be toxic. It may also cause an allergic reaction in people who have allergies to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others. ***


While I have not found a lot associated metaphysically, it is in the same family as the sunflower and because of its similarity it has great potential in the spiritual. The Sunflower, it symbolizes Healing, Luck, Truth, Loyalty. When I don’t find a lot about an herb, in the spiritual sense, I tend to default to its medicinal properties to associate with the spiritual. It’s healing, protective and restorative medicinal properties cause me to gravitate towards those same spiritual properties. Bringing balance, mind/body/spirit, protection, healing and wisdom into one.


This a new plant for me! I knew nothing about it before I started researching. This is a great herb to have when we move into the spring and summer, allergy and cold seasons, and the foragers friend. Foragers are all too familiar with skin irritations and falling into a little trouble with skin irritations when we do what we love! Tromping through nature looking for all the good things mother nature gives us. So be on the lookout for this little power packed plant when going on your foraging hunts or nature walks and happy hunting!



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