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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

akaCrocus, Gravel Laurel, Gravel Plant, Ground Laurel, Mayflower, Mountain Pink, Shadflower, Wild Mayflower, Winter Pink
(Epigaea repens)
Also: (Arbutus menziesii) and (Arbutus xalapensis)

CONTAINS: Arbutin, urson, ericolin, formic acid. The leaves contain arbutoside, ericoline and ursolic acid.

A small evergreen, low-growing, creeping shrub which is a member of the heath family. It is found in sandy soils of North America in the shade of pines or other trees. It was introduced to Great Britain in 1736. The flowers are white with a reddish tinge and very fragrant. The woody stems are covered with long reddish hairs and will root along the runners. It may be harmful to cattle when eaten. It is in need of protection. Its scientific name is derived from a Greek word meaning "upon the ground". Often grown as an ornamental. The Shakers once produced and sold this product under the name of "Gravel Plant". The flowers were revered by the Potawatomi as being a gift from their chief deity.

Arbutus menziesii: Fruit eaten by Native Americans in California.
Arbutus xalapensis: Fruit eaten by Native Americans of Texas.

PROPAGATION: By seed sown in autumn, by division of clumps in autumn, by softwood cuttings in summer, by runners.
NEEDS: Moist, acid, humusy soil with high sand content in cool shade. Needs to be kept weed-free.
HARVEST: Plants are cut in summer and then dried to be used in infusions, extracts and tinctures, although there are some preparations which use the fresh plant. For infusions the leaves are used dry, but often used fresh for tinctures.
FLOWERS: Early spring.


Astringent and diuretic. Used similarly today as buchu and bearberry.
Has been used internally for cystitis, kidney stones, kidney and urinary tract infections, bladder stones. Useful when urine contains blood or pus.
The tincture has been used in cases of lithic acid gravel and all diseases of the urinary organs (nephritis, cystitis, vesical catarrh)
Has been used for debilitated or relaxed bladder, for urine containing blood or pus.
Has been used for diarrhea or bowel complaints of children.
Was used by Native Americans for stomachaches, kidney disorders, and as a blood purifier.
A folk remedy of leaf tea was used for bladder, urethra and kidney disorders.
The Iroquois also used it for blood ailments.
The Seneca used the flowers and leaves for malaria.
Was used by Shakers for kidney stones.

All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully.
INFUSION = 1 oz. dried whole plant or leaves to 1 pint of boiling water. Steep 30 minutes. Take freely.
TINCTURE = 1/2 to 1 fluid dram.

Tincture of the fresh leaves is used for calculi urinary, dysuria (impaired or painful voiding of urine), gravel, and dystenary.

Raw flower tubes are used in salads.

©2000 by Ernestina Parziale, CH