The Forgotten Plant: Chamaebatia Foliolosa

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Chamaebatia Foliolosa is known by the common name of Mountain Misery, Bear Clover, or as the Miwoks called it Kitkitdizze. An evergreen ground cover shrub in the rose family. Native to the Sierra Nevada foothills, it is highly prolific and gives off a unique aroma somewhere between sage and camphor. The leaves give off a sticky resin that is highly flammable, hence the name mountain misery, given by settlers who first were introduced to the plant. They considered it a nuisance because of its vigorous growth and extreme root structure.

The name Mountain Misery tends to give people the wrong impression of this underutilized plant. It is now considered a important part of the landscape because of its ability to stabilize soil with the its 7ft long root system.

Traditional uses range from treating colds and arthritis, to chickenpox. It’s high in glycosides and flavonols such as quercetin, catechin, and kaempferol. This could explain why it was historically used for its antiviral, antioxidant, and anti inflammatory properties. Traditionally brewed into a tea using aerial parts of the leaves, it gives off a medicinal, evergreen, and sage-like taste.

When made into a tincture it takes on more of an evergreen taste. The alcohol brings out different medicinal properties so its best taken using a duel extracted method.

There is still a lot to know about this native plant of the Sierra Nevada foothills. However, due to the unique phytochemistry and how prolific this plant tends to be, it should be utilized for its wide range of health benefits.

Steeping the tea for about 5-7 minutes leaves you with vibrant color, similar to green tea. The chlorophyll rich flavonoids give off a pine mixed with sage taste and smell. My personal favorite preparation is:

3 Cups Water

4-6 leaves of Mountain Misery

1 tsp. Maple Syrup or to taste

This gives you a whole host of different medicinal properties serve hot or over ice.

Another great way to get further medicinal benefit from this native plant is to prepare it in a tincture. Using a grain alcohol of at least 70% abv will draw out different compounds than the infusion with water. If you’re looking to gain maximum benefit, use a duel extraction method of tea and tincture. A 2:1 tincture and tea gives a great combination of both.

Using plants that are easily accessible and native to your landscape helps create a pathway back to traditional uses and principals. The more that people begin to tap into working with elements like this, the more they will see that the natural world offers up everything to ensure that we thrive. All we need to do is not lose sight of it.

if you don’t have the time or desire to make your own tincture, buy it now by clicking the link below.

This is a double decoction extraction of tea and alcohol, and is 100% organic. It’s also the first product like it on the market. Other ingredients include: organic lemon peel, organic ginger root, and organic maple syrup for a hint of sweetness.

6 Comments on “The Forgotten Plant: Chamaebatia Foliolosa

  1. Hi! I have lots of this where I live and am wondering when is the best time to harvest the leaves to make my own tincture? thank you!

    • Hi Barbara,
      Now is a great time to harvest mountain misery and tincture it. The potency peaks in late spring when it flowers, but it can be used year round. Enjoy working with it. Let me know if you have other questions.

  2. Hi! Do you steep green leaves for tea? Can the leaves be dehydrated/dried and stored for later use or does it lose it’s healing properties if it is not fresh?

    • Hi Lisa,
      You absolutely can steep the leaves for tea, either fresh or dried can be used in tea and it won’t sacrifice much if any of the nutrients. I like to use both a alcohol and tea mixture for more of a full nutrient extraction but the tea alone is a great way to go.
      I hope this helps!


      • Thanks for the quick response and informative post! I am eager to try this tea since there is a plethora of mountain misery where we go camping throughout the summer and fall.

      • Yes of course, I hope you enjoy it! it basically tastes how it smells, It is a robust type of flavor, if it proves to be to much I would suggest drinking it over ice with some lemon. That seems to subdue the flavor a bit. I also worked with UC Davis to get it lab tested for nutritional results it proved to be high in calcium, manganese, and zinc, and have similar properties to green tea. Which explains the medicinal flavor.

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