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Chia

Salvia columbariae

Annual

Found in creosote bush scrub up to 7000 ft. elevation.

Blooms March to June

Chia (Salvia columbariae, Benth., Lamiaceae) grows in the west from California to Utah and south to Northern Mexico. It is usually found growing on decomposing granite and grows best in shade. Chia grows at many elevations, from coastal scrub up to pine woodlands at 1200 m. The seeds have been and continue to be used as food. The seeds are available in stores and are sold by the kg. The seeds were especially used by the Chumash messengers (ksen) who ran perhaps 30 km or more in a day delivering messages between villages. Eating the seeds was supposed to maintain their energy during the run.

Chumash people historically inhabited the Californian coastal region from Malibu to San Luis Obispo and inland for about 160 km. There are many Chumash people living currently in California and other locations. The Chumash culture and religion are still practiced in California. Chumash legends tell of a plant called ‘ilepesh (pronounced gheelaypaysh) that was used to ‘wake the dead, or the nearly dead’ (1). Apparently, ‘ilepesh’ is chia (2). How the plant was used to ‘wake the dead’ is unknown. However, it may have been the root that was used. Probably the people who were treated with this plant had suffered from strokes or heart attacks and appeared to be nearly dead.

From Original Article
Salvia columbariae contains tanshinones
James D. Adams, Jr, Michael Wall and Cecilia Garcia
University of Southern California, School of Pharmacy, Los Angeles, CA, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont, CA and Chumash Healer and Spiritual Leader, Granada Hills, CA, USA




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