Chinchweed : Pectis papposa

(Pectis papposa) Syn. Pectis angustifolia Torr

also called Fetid marigold, Pague, Limoncillo, Lemonscent, Crownseed Pectis, Lemon-scented Pectis, Lemonscent Pectis, Lemonweed, TshéGdannItc’iih (Navajo), manzanilla del coyote, ban mansani:ya, caasol heecto (small caasol), caasol ihasii quiipe (pleasant smelling caasol (Seri), ban manzani;ya

I have recently come across this plant during my research into the porophyllums. I was initially drawn to the porophyllum species because of the impact coriander (cilantro) had on it (and other local plants) when it was introduced into Mexico by the Spanish. As a chef I love the flavour profile of cilantro (and luckily am not cursed with the gene that makes it taste soapy)(1) and am always interested in being introduced to a herb previously unknown to me that might have both culinary and/or medicinal usage.

  1. the OR6A2 gene

Phillips (2014)(1) notes that (one of the) deerweeds (2) flavour and scent is matched (although to a lesser degree) by another “resin dotted” member of the sunflower family called Chinchweed (Pectis papposa).

  1. Phillips is a self-taught botanist who, after relocating to the South Western United States (of America) became interested in wild edible plants that he found while exploring the mountains and deserts of his new home. Over the period of several years he hiked and mountain biked over thousands of kilometres and he documented the plants he came across. His wanderings extended from the Chihuahuan Desert of western Texas to the Mojave Desert of southern California and northward to central Utah and central Nevada
  2. a common name for many of the porophyllum species. Phillips is referring to Porophyllum gracile

The whole plant is strongly aromatic, the Navajo name is derived from the fact that the odour of this plant is said to penetrate sandstone two feet or more in thickness (Elmore 1944). In the language of the Seri peoples of NW Coastal Mexico this variety is noted as different to others in the species in that it emits a “pleasant smell. (Felger 2012) (Omeara and Majid 2018). The aroma is similar to that of papalo as it is created primarily by the essential oils present in the plant. These oils are largely responsible for the scent of the plant and they are plainly visible on its leaves.

Resin glands on chinchweed leaf. (1)
Similar resin glands are present on the leaves of Pipicha (Porophyllum tagetoides)

The leaves and flowers can be used fresh or dried as a culinary herb. The seed can be parched, ground into a powder then used as a thickener and flavouring in soups or can be mixed with water to make a gruel. Leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Native Americans would dip the leaves in salty water then eat them as a condiment with mush or cornmeal. The Zuni and Hopi used the plant as a seasoning.

Photograph by John Macdonald 2004

Chinchweed is used medicinally and the plant has been noted as having antispasmodic (GIT smooth muscle), carminative and laxative actions. It diminishes intestinal cramps and will lessen diarrhoea. Several teaspoons of the infusion can be given to soothe a colicky baby. An infusion of the blossoms has been used as eye drops in the treatment of snow blindness.
Doses 4-6 ounces ½-1 cup 125-250ml – infusion (aerial parts)
Tincture 60% alc 30-60 drops 3 times daily (Kane 2006)


  • Castetter, E. F. (1935) Ethnobiological Studies in the American Southwest I. Uncultivated Native Plants Used as Sources of Food. University of New Mexico Bulletin 4(1) 1-44Curtin, L. S. M. (1949) By the Prophet of the Earth. Santa Fe. San Vicente Foundation.
  • Elmore, Francis H. (1944) Ethnobotany of the Navajo. Santa Fe, NM. School of American Research
  • Felger, Richard & Wilder, Benjamin. (2012). Plant Life of a Desert Archipelago: Flora of the Sonoran Islands in the Gulf of California.
  • Kane, CW : Herbal Medicine of the American Southwest : 2006 : Lincoln Town Press : ISBN 0-977133-0-3
  • O’Meara, Carolyn & Majid, Asifa. (2020). Anger stinks in Seri: Olfactory metaphor in a lesser-described language. Cognitive Linguistics. 10.1515/cog-2017-0100.
  • Phillips, Brian Lee : (2014) The Botany of Survival : A Forager’s Experience in the American Southwest. :


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