Subject: Re: Osha root - need information
From: cdeleo.lamar.ColoState.EDU (Claire DeLeo)
Date: 7 Sep 1995 12:07:05 -0600
> Can anyone share some information on osha root.
Osha root is found in high altitudes of Colorado and is one of the most powerful herbs I have ever used. It grows above 9000 feet and grows about 4 feet high. I have seen the warnings about confusing it with water hemlock and poison hemlock, but I think it is pretty easy to tell the difference. Once you have dug up Osha root, you won't ever forget it. Osha root (Ligusticum porteri) is "hairy" and has a strong odor, something like a very potent celery smell. I have found Osha in stands of Aspen trees.
Water hemlock (Cicuta occidentalis) has a chambered root. It you cut the root lengthwise, you will see horizontal chambers. Osha doesn't have this. It also doesn't grow as high as Osha does though their may be some overlap around 9000 ft. Water hemlock has round seeds, and Osha has oval shaped seeds.
Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) has purple spots on its stem and Osha does not.
With all the scary warnings about mis-identifying Osha, I hope this doesn't keep you away from the plant. You might want to buy a piece of Osha from an herbal store just to get familiar with the smell. I think the commercially sold Osha does not look like Osha I have collected (its smaller and they remove the hairiness), but the smell is unmistakeable.
Osha has worked for me on colds and sore throats. I usually start chewing Osha when I notice the first signs of a cold. If I take it early, I usually avoid getting a cold. It doesn't seem to work as well once a cold or flu has set in.
When in doubt about what you have collected, ask someone who knows the plant.
From: howieb.teleport.com (Howie Brounstein)
> Once you have dug up Osha root, you won't ever forget it. Osha root (Ligusticum porteri) is "hairy" and has a strong odor, something like a very potent celery smell. I have found Osha in stands of Aspen trees.
This is very true, but identifying umbelliferae (carrot family) roots by smell is very dangerous. Most umbelliferae roots smell strongly aromatic. One weird water hemlock with no chambers, perhaps partially hairy due do environment, growing in a clump of Osha, will smell like Osha. In fact, the smell is so strong, every root growing in a clump of Osha will smell like osha. There are other umbelliferaes that are poisonous other than Hemlocks. The most likely mistake is not poisonous, its Hemlock Parsley, Conioselenum.
Always have identifiable seeds attached when it comes out of the ground. Umbelliferae roots are dangerous. People die every year. Even well trained botanists and nature guides.
If you want to harvest this root, get a teacher first.