Porophyllum gracile : Deer Weed

Synonyms: P.junciforme, P.putidum, P.caesium, P.cedrense , P.leucospermum , P.nodosum , P.ochroleucum , P.pinifolium , P.vaseyi , P.confertum var. ochroleucum

Also called, slender pore leaf, odora, (hierba) yerba del venado (deer herb), maravilla, tepepapaloquilitl, Pech’uk-il (Mayan name), xtisil or xtesel (Seri name), hestej (Guarijio), jestej (Guarijío),

P.gracile is the only herb in this family where I have found reference to it being used as a dried herb. The dried leaves would be crumbled together with salt and rubbed into meat or mixed through minced meat as a flavouring agent and to help extend the life of the meat in the absence of refrigeration. (1) This variety also demonstrates the polarising nature of the flavour of this herb (much in the same way that coriander provokes strong opinions). The website for South-eastern Arizona Wildflowers and Plants (2) states (regarding the scent of this herb) that the herb is “foul-smelling” and that “the foliage has a strange, unpleasant, rank odour when crushed”

  1. https://savorthesouthwest.blog/category/herbs/
  2. https://www.fireflyforest.com/flowers/

P.gracile (Deerweed) was used for gastric problems, most notably gas and was considered unparalleled at releasing wind; it is also used by the natives of Baja California for the treatment of intestinal disorders (Jaeger, 1940).  The Seri peoples of Sonora used the stems of this plant to make a tea to aid in difficult childbirth and to treat colds and flu (Atap) (1)  Take 1 cup 3 x day, drink while still warm (Felger etal); they also used the macerated root to treat toothache. Paiute (2) and Shoshone women used it to bring on late menstruation. (Sonnenblume 2015). The Moapa Paiutes of Nevada used a root decoction and occasionally stems and leaves of P. gracile as a regulator for delayed menstruation (Train, etal., 1957).

  1. Atap – the Seri word for Influenza.
  2. Paiute (Piute) refers to three closely related groups of indigenous peoples of the Great Basin of the Colorado River in the south western united states

Various sources mention this herb to have analgesic and anti-rheumatic actions (both internal and external use). Weber (etal 1985) mentions that the Havasupai (1) people of the southern United States of America traditionally used a decoction of the pounded plant for abdominal pain or as a wash for “skin sores” and as a liniment for aches/pains (Murphey 1999).

The Yaqui (2) people used a decoction of the fresh tender branches to treat infertility in women caused by “coldness in the womb”. Take 1 cup 3 x day.

  1. The Havasupai people, or the Havasu ‘Baaja (People of the Blue Green Waters), live in Supai, a tributary canyon to the Grand Canyon in the State of Arizona
  2. a cross-border people of Northern Mexico and South-western USA who call themselves the Yoeme (“people”). A primarily agricultural people who have resisted acculturation by both the Mexican and American governments.

Kane (2006) provides a little more advice in his writings. Deerweed is listed as a simple gastric carminative indicated for dyspepsia with bloating and nausea and for colic. He suggests that it can be thought of as an alternative to catnip (Nepeta cataria) for babies and that it works well to relieve trapped gas and intestinal spasm. The fresh herb is most efficacious followed by fresh plant tincture; infusion of dried leaf is weakest as the plant loses some of its constituents when it is dried. A fresh plant infusion will be more beneficial. Eating several leaves or flowers as needed is the easiest way to use this herb.

Kane’s dosages are as follows

  • Fresh leaves/flowers – eaten as needed
  • Fresh plant tincture: 30-60 drops 3xday
  • Leaf infusion: 4-8 ounces (125-250ml : ½ -1 cup) 3xday

In Sierra de Laguna and San Blas it has been noted that this plant is used to prevent dehydration, for cardiovascular health (and anti-aging on general and as a treatment against general stomach upset)(Pío-León etal 2018)


  • Felger, R S and    Moser, M B   : People of the Desert and Sea : Ethnobotany of the Seri Indians : University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ. : 1985.
  • Felger, Richard S, Benjamin T. Wilder, and Humberto Romero-Morales. Plant Life of a Desert Archipelago: Flora of the Sonoran Islands in the Gulf of California. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2016
  • Jaeger, E. C.  :  Desert wild flowers :    Stanford Press : 1940
  • Kane, CW    : Herbal Medicine of the American Southwest : 2006 : Lincoln Town Press : ISBN 0-977133-0-3
  • Murphey, Edith Van Allen, 1990, Indian Uses of Native Plants, Glenwood, Ill. Meyerbooks. Originally published in 1959, page 46
  • Pío-León, J. F., A. Nieto-Garibay, J. L., León-de la Luz, F. Delgado-Vargas,, R. Vega-Aviña y A. Ortega Rubio (2018) Plantas silvestres consumidas como tés recreativos por grupos de rancheros en Baja California Sur, México. Acta Botanica Mexicana 123: 7-19. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21829/ abm123.2018.1275
  • Sonnenblume,   Kollibri terre   : Wildflowers of Joshua Tree Country : A field guide featuring Native American uses, animal relations and translations of the scientific names into English : Macska Moksha Press : 2015 : ISBN 978-0-9861881-1-4 (PDF Edition)  
  • Train, P.. Henrichs, J. R. and W. A. Archer. : Medicinal uses of plants by Indian tribes of Nevada. : 1957 : U. S. Dept. Agric.
  • Weber, Steven A. and P. David Seaman: Havasupai Habitat: A. F. Whiting’s Ethnography of a Traditional Indian Culture, Tucson :  The University of Arizona Press :  1985

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