Herb: Chile Tarweed

Latin name: Madia sativa

Synonyms: Madia viscosa

Family: Compositae

Edible parts of Chile Tarweed:

Seed - raw or cooked. Although quite small, the seed was a staple food for some native North American Indian tribes. Rich in oil, it can be roasted then ground into a powder and eaten dry, mixed with water, or combined with cereal flours. The seed was also used as piäole. The seed contains about 41% of a sweet edible oil, about 28% can be extracted from the seed in an oil press. Of a high quality, it can be used as a substitute for olive oil. The oil does not solidify until the temperature drops to -11°C.

Description of the plant:


75 cm
(2 feet)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Sand, gravel, open grassland and disturbed soils.

Other uses of Chile Tarweed:

The seed is rich in an oil which is a good substitute for olive oil. It does not solidify until the temperature is lower than -11°C. A good lubricant, the oil is also used in soap making.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow in mid spring in situ and only just cover the seed. Germination should take place within a couple of weeks.

Cultivation of Chile Tarweed:

Sand, gravel, open grassland and disturbed soils.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Madia sativa:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.