The smell is of thick warm summer coming on, with sticky orange minty maple syrup fenugreek. When you see this plant I highly recommend stroking it and rubbing its perfume on your neck. It will be with you all day long. This is how I met Anaphalis margaritacea
Ceclia Garcia Chumash Medicine woman, who recently left this planet, taught me the medicinal properties of everlasting,, though I had been wearing her perfume for 18 years on every spring summer hike. You can smell her long before you see her. We played with the flowers in herbal sweats, foot and hand baths, sometimes mixed with bay leaves, white sage or yerba santa. Cecilia recommended it to change bad attitudes. She shared with us its anti-influenza, anti pneumonia properties as a tea at the first sign, “so things don’t get exotic.” I began using it for my boys for their summer colds and quickly signs and symptoms would clear. My younger to this day calls it flower tea, and he always wants one flower in his tea, that he eats when done with the tea. Both of my boys often get gooey eyes when they get sick, sometimes it is conjuctivitis and sometimes not. I decided to try it in their eyes. Sometimes I get their gooey eye thing and it has worked great for me as well. It works better than breast milk for eye infections. I have seen it work well for painful, swollen, itchy, gritty eyes. Even two year old flowers are potent! In the eyes it can also change one’s outlook or persepective on life to a positive one.
In her book, Healing with Medicinial PLants of the West, Cecilia states that everlasting with white sage wrapped in a warm wet towel and wrapped around the heads of cancer patients during chemotherapy can prevent hair from falling out.
Another way the Chumash people used it was to smoke both leaves and flowers. The leaves have an appetite suppressing function, and were used by the younger women and men during times of famine, that there would be enough food for the elders.
Pearly Everlasting is found in dry places below 5,500′, most commonly in Southern California, Mexico and Penn Valley. It can be seen blooming from January to June, especially southwards. Up here in the sierras it is blooming now, from June to July. Make sure there are many plants when you harvest, and harvest only a little as you only need a little for each use.
For colds and flus and eye wash:
- small handful of flowers, about 10 for a pint
- pour boiling water over them
- steep 15 minutes.
- It is important to strain as there are tiny hairs in the flowers that can be an irritant.
- Drink throughout the day for three days.
- For eyes put drops in eyes as frequently as possible.
For weight loss:
- 3 dried leaves in a pint jar
- pour boiling water over them
- let steep 15 mins,
- Sip throughout the day.
I am grateful daily for Cecilia’s teachings and her wild presence in my life. May my work be an offering to all my teachers. For more great info on some of our local plants check out her second edition, Healing with Medicinal Plants of the West, which was published after her passing.