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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - December 21, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Edible Plants, Medicinal Plants, Shrubs
Title: Is cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) edible?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I found a post here about cenizo leaves being used for tea, but I'm wondering if the leaves of the cenizo are edible? I have found many recipes for 'brown butter sage' leaves (sauteed often with onion) but am unclear if cenizo falls into the edible category .. I appreciate this service very much! Thank you!!

ANSWER:

You are, I think, referring to a previous question that asked about using Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo) leaves for tea.  Christina Mild in Rio Delta Wild talks about using the leaves to make a tea that is reputed to ease symptoms of the common cold.  The description of the tea's smell (like sweaty socks) doesn't make it sound very appealing.  Since cenizo in the Family Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family) isn't really a sage in the Family Lamiaceae (Mint Family) and its leaves are rather thick and tough, I doubt that they would be very tasty.  Here's another opinion about eating cenizo, or Texas sage, that mentions that not even deer or rabbits will eat the leaves unless they are really desparate.  Since the plant does not appear on any of the following toxic plant databases—Poisonous Plants of North Carolina, Cornell University's Plants Poisonous to Livestock, Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System, University of Pennsylvania's Poisonous Plants, Toxic Plants of Texas, or the California Poison Control System—I doubt that it would harm you to eat it, but I also doubt that you would find it very palatable.

 

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