Herb: Summer Cypress

Latin name: Bassia scoparia

Synonyms: Chenopodium scoparia, Kochia scoparia, Kochia trichophila

Family: Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family)

Medicinal use of Summer Cypress:

Antibacterial, antifungal. The leaves and fruits are cardiotonic and diuretic. The stems are used in the treatment of dysentery, diarrhoea and dyspepsia. The seed is antiphlogistic, astringent and diuretic. It is used to treat skin infections such as eczema ad scabies, and diseases of the urinary tract. The seed contains harmine, which can have adverse effects upon the gastro-intestinal tract and the central nervous system.

Description of the plant:


30 cm
(11 3/4 inch)


Habitat of the herb:

Roadsides, ditches and wasteland in western N. America.

Edible parts of Summer Cypress:

Young leaves - cooked. A delicious taste, they are used as a vegetable. A nutritional analysis is available. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Seed - dried and ground into a powder then mixed with cereals when making bread, biscuits etc. Very small and fiddly to use, it is also not a very reliable crop in Britain due to its late season of flowering. On a zero moisture basis, the seed contains 20.4 - 27.5% protein, 8.8 - 16% fat and 3.4 - 9.4% ash.

Other uses of the herb:

The whole plant is used as a broom. The green form is used.

Propagation of Summer Cypress:

Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse and plant out in May. The seed can also be sown in situ in late April or early May.

Cultivation of the herb:

Roadsides, ditches and wasteland in western N. America.

Known hazards of Bassia scoparia:

Plants contain some saponins and should not be eaten in large quantities. Saponins are a toxin found in many of our daily foods such as many beans. They are usually present in quantities too small to be concerned about and are also very poorly absorbed by the body, tending to pass straight through without causing any problems. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.