Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Tuesday - August 13, 2013

From: Midlothian, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Edible Plants, Wildflowers
Title: Making Tea from Croton monanthogynus
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

Do you have any other information on the value of croton monanthogynus as a tea? Nutritive value? Possible adverse reactions?

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has an extensive plant database of over 7,000 plants and includes information on Croton monanthogynus, the Prairie Tea. In the comments section for this plant is the following information: A very mild tea can be made by steeping the leaves, hence the common name, Prairie Tea.

Also John Hilty has an interesting webpage at  www.illinoiswildflowers.info for this plant. He says that the foliage of Prairie Tea (Croton monanthogynus) is reasonably attractive, while the flowers are insignificant. The common name refers to the resemblance of robust specimens to cultivated tea plants; however, the foliage is unsuitable as a source of tea. Generally, Croton spp. are typical prairie plants of the southern plains; they are less typical of eastern tallgrass prairies, where they are often displaced by taller vegetation in fertile areas. Prairie Tea differs from other Croton spp. by the following characteristics: 1) Its leaves lack teeth, 2) each seed capsule contains only a single seed (or at most two), rather than three, 3) the female flowers are produced individually from the leaf axils, rather than in groups, and 4) the seed capsules do not exceed ¼" in length.

Note that Delena Tull writes a warning on page 163 of Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest: A Practical Guide about allergic reactions to Croton monanthogynus, a member of the spurge family. She also says that the leaves of these sweet-smelling herbs produce a mildly flavored golden tea. Dried leaves produce a stronger flavor than fresh. Where it is abundant, pull up the whole plant. Hang bundles of the plants to dry. Then strip the leaves from the stems. She writes that Prairie tea can also be used like basil as a spice.

Finally Amy Crowell, on the wild edible plants of Texas blog, decided a couple of years ago to eat something from the wilds of Texas every day. So she included Prairie Tea. About it she said that the leaves were edible and can be used as spices, in teas, or as a basil substitute in pesto. She also warns about people being allergic to (or irritated by) this plant.

So proceed with caution and as is the case for all wild plants, be sure that you are 100% certain that the plants are identified correctly before ingesting them in any form.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Prairie tea
Croton monanthogynus

Prairie tea
Croton monanthogynus

Prairie tea
Croton monanthogynus

More Wildflowers Questions

Plants for a Shady Woodland in MA
June 09, 2013 - Hello, I am looking for natives to plant in full shade or part shade. My house is in the mountain woodland area of Mt. Washington, MA. I am looking for grasses, flowers and shrubs. Also I am looking f...
view the full question and answer

Native plant bibliography
March 20, 2004 - What book do you recommend for identifying the native plants and wildflowers of my region?
view the full question and answer

Collecting bluebonnet seeds
May 13, 2008 - Greetings, My bluebonnets have bloomed nicely, and are showing a good crop of seed pods. I know that if I wait they will all open and spray the seeds everywhere, but I want to harvest some of the s...
view the full question and answer

Spanish name for bluebonnet
May 14, 2008 - What is the Spanish name for bluebonnet? They were in Texas before any other Europeans and must have named the flower. I cannot find it anywhere.
view the full question and answer

Hardiness of Mexican bush sage in USDA Zone 7
September 25, 2006 - I have a Mexican Sage (salvia). I need to know the care of it especially because it is a gift and the plant is about 5 ft. With the weather and the red clay I don't know if I could plant it or just ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.