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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.

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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.

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Saturday - January 31, 2009

From: Trinidad, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Medicinal Plants, Trees
Title: Tree that successfully treats psoriasis
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty plants,I have a rather unusual question. Do you know of a tree/plant that you can grow in a container, looks like a conifer/evergreen, is green, has wispy looking branches, but when transplanting, you have to be very careful of the roots, or the plant will die, has red bark, and when sprouting produces a rose like flower and grows into a tree? This plant also will cure eczema/psoriasis? I received this information from a friend who gave me as much detail as they could remember about this plant to help with eczema. Unfortunately, they didn't have a picture of said plant or name.

ANSWER:

The Native American Ethnobotany database from the University of Michigan-Dearborn lists Pinus contorta (lodgepole pine) and Abies grandis (grand fir) as being used by the Salish Indians of Vancouver Island, British Columbia to treat psoriasis. Here are photos of Abies grandis and you can see photos of seedlings of these two plants from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.  Certainly, either of these plants somewhat fits your description.  Foster and Duke in Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America, p. 325, also report Pinus contorta being used for treatment of psoriasis.

From the Internet Health Library Mahonia aquifolium (hollyleaved barberry), another North American native, is reported as being useful for treatment of psoriasis, but this plant doesn't really fit your description.

You can google "medicinal plant psoriasis" and find other plants (i.e., Indigofera tinctoria, a native of Asia and Africa) that are named as treatments for psoriasis.  However, I did not find other native plants of North America reported as being effective against psoriasis.

I know that you said that you don't have a photo of the plant.  If you do, however, come across a photo, please send it to us and we will do our best to identify it.  Visit the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page to read instructions for submitting photos. 

 

From the Image Gallery


Lodgepole pine
Pinus contorta

Holly-leaved barberry
Mahonia aquifolium

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