Names: chuchupate, Porter’s lovage, Colorado cough root, Bear Medicine, Licorice-root, Canby’s lovage, Porter’s licoriceroot, Bear Medicine, Colorado Cough Root, Chuchupaste, Osha Root, Chuchupa osha, Chuchupaste osha, Chuchupatle, Porter’s Wild Lovage
Descriptions: Herbaceous perennial that is native to the American Southwest. This plant grows at altitudes often as high as 8,000 feet. It resembles in leaf form and flower Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum), so the first rule of using or growing Osha is to be sure it is Osha. Osha root stinks, Hemlock does not. It
is very difficult to germinate. In the alpine meadows where it grows, the stems are broken over by the wind and the seeded umbels are left to rest upside-down, first on the snow, then as the snow melts, on the soil surface. The seeds are cupped, and fill with water. They remain moist and in the sunlight and eventually they germinate, which is why Osha seedlings are frequently found in colonies very near the parent plant. The leaves of Osha are pinnately divided into one to four pairs, up to 8” long and depending on the species, resemble the leaves of carrots or ferns. Plants grow anywhere from 4” to 36” tall, the stems are hollow and stout, and sometimes have purple splotches that give them a bruised appearance. On the United Plant Savers list.
Cultivation: Challenging. Grows best at elevation, approximately 6,000 to 10,000 feet in the Rockies, but will grow at much lower elevation in the Pacific Northwest or in the Sierras. Sow the seeds in the fall, winter or very early spring, upside-down on the soil surface. Keep moist until germination. Space 1 foot apart. Drought tolerant. Osha should be gathered after the flowers have gone to seed but before the aerial parts die back, after which positive identification can be extremely difficult. Roots should be dug very conservatively from only the healthiest stands. Osha root is susceptible to mold after it is gathered. If not using them fresh, lay them in the sun to dry quickly. The dark brown skin of the roots will hasten drying and will protect the inner tissues from the damaging effects of sunlight. The dried roots will keep in good condition for a year or more if stored in a sealed glass jar.
Actions: diaphoretic, antiviral, antibacterial, expectorant, stomachic, bitter, emmenagogue
Energetics: : spicy, bitter, warm
Meridians affected: lungs, stomach Constituents: volatile and fixed oils, an alkaloid, a lactone glycoside, saponins, phytosterols, and ferulic acid