Herb: Sticky Laurel


Latin name: Ceanothus velutinus


Family: Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn Family)



Medicinal use of Sticky Laurel:

The leaves are febrifuge. An infusion has been used in the treatment of coughs and fevers. A decoction of the leaves and stems has been used both internally and externally in the treatment of dull pains, rheumatism etc. The leaves contain saponins and have been used as a skin wash that is also deodorant and can destroy some parasites. The wash is beneficial in treating sores, eczema, nappy rash etc.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Shrub

Height:
2.5 m
(8 1/4 foot)

Flovering:
June
to July


Scent:
Scented
Shrub

Habitat of the herb:

Moist soils of hills and mountains to 2,600 metres. It often occurs in draws and on the open face of hills, becoming rapidly established on burnt-over mountain slopes.

Edible parts of Sticky Laurel:

The leaves are used as a tea substitute.

Other uses of the herb:

A green dye is obtained from the flowers. A poultice of the dried powdered leaves has been used as a baby powder for treating nappy rash etc. Smoke from burning the plant has been used as an insecticide to kill bedbugs. All parts of the plant are rich in saponins - when crushed and mixed with water they produce a good lather which is an effective and gentle soap. This soap is very good at removing dirt, though it does not remove oils very well. This means that when used on the skin it will not remove the natural body oils, but nor will it remove engine oil etc The flowers are a very good source, when used as a body soap they leave behind a pleasant perfume on the skin. The developing seed cases are also a very good source of saponins.

Propagation of Sticky Laurel:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed should be pre-soaked for 12 hours in warm water and then given 1 - 3 months stratification at 1C. Germination usually takes place within 1 - 2 months at 20C. One report says that the seed is best given boiling water treatment, or heated in 4 times its volume of sand at 90 - 120C for 4 - 5 minutes and then soaked in warm water for 12 hours before sowing it. It then requires a period of chilling below 5C for up to 84 days before it will germinate. Seeds have considerable longevity, some that have been in the soil for 200 years or more have germinated. The seed is ejected from its capsule with some force when fully ripe, timing the collection of seed can be difficult because unless collected just prior to dehiscence the seed is difficult to extract and rarely germinates satisfactorily. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, taken at a node, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, 7 - 12 cm with a heel, October in a cold frame. The roots are quite brittle and it is best to pot up the callused cuttings in spring, just before the roots break. Good percentage.

Cultivation of the herb:

Moist soils of hills and mountains to 2,600 metres. It often occurs in draws and on the open face of hills, becoming rapidly established on burnt-over mountain slopes.

Known hazards of Ceanothus velutinus:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.