Herb: Cliffrose

Latin name: Cowania mexicana

Synonyms: Cowania stansburiana

Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Medicinal use of Cliffrose:

A decoction of the green branches, together with sagebrush (Artemisia spp) and juniper (Juniperus spp) has been used as an expectorant and laxative treatment for colds. A decoction of the leaves and flowering stems has been used to treat venereal disease and pains over the kidneys. The leaves have been chewed in the treatment of arthritis. The leaves have been made into a tea for bathing and cleansing the skin. It is an antiseptic wash, used for treating smallpox or measles.

Description of the plant:


2 m
(6 1/2 foot)


Habitat of the herb:

Dry rocky slopes and mesas, usually between 1050 - 2400 metres.

Other uses of Cliffrose:

The fibres in the bark have been used for making sandals, rope, sleeping mats and clothing. The bark has been crushed, rubbed until soft and then used as a lining in shoes to keep the feet warm. It has also been used as an absorbent nappy for babies and as a soft surface for babies to lay on in cradles. The fine, soft bark has been used as a tinder when starting fires with a fire drill.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - we have no information for this species, but suggest sowing the seed in spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Cultivation of Cliffrose:

Dry rocky slopes and mesas, usually between 1050 - 2400 metres.

Known hazards of Cowania mexicana:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.