Herb: Skeleton Weed

Latin name: Lygodesmia juncea

Family: Compositae

Medicinal use of Skeleton Weed:

Skeleton weed was employed medicinally by various native North American Indian tribes who used it particularly as a galactogogue. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism. The leaves and stems are galactogogue and tonic. An infusion of the stems has been used to promote milk flow in nursing mothers, in the treatment of smallpox, measles, kidney problems, diarrhoea, heartburn and burning coughs and also as a general tonic for children. A poultice of the plant has been applied to bring relief to rheumatic and swollen joints. An infusion has been used as a wash for sore eyes. An infusion of the powdered galls that are found on the plant is diuretic.

Description of the plant:


30 cm
(11 3/4 inch)

Habitat of the herb:

Prairies and plains, especially in sandy soils.

Edible parts of Skeleton Weed:

A gum from the seeds is used for chewing. Other reports say that the gum is obtained from the flowering stems. Another report says that the roots were left in the sun until the gum came out and hardened, and this was then used for chewing.

Other uses of the herb:

An infusion of the stems, mixed with oil, has been used as a hair tonic. The crushed stems have been used as foot pads in shoes.

Propagation of Skeleton Weed:

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame and only just cover the seed. 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. Division can be tried in the spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Prairies and plains, especially in sandy soils.

Known hazards of Lygodesmia juncea:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.