PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Osha (Ligusticum porteri)

Known in the herbal healing community as Bear Root or Bear Medicine. Bears in the central to southern Rocky Mountains emerging from winter hibernation seek out Osha right away, noshing on the roots and smearing it into their fur. It’s their breakfast and ablution after the big sleep. In many North American First Peoples cultures, some healers are considered to have Bear Medicine, a particularly powerful capacity for healing many ailments.

Osha is native to high elevation in the Rockies from Colorado to Northern Mexico. It will grow in the Pacific NW, including lowlands, if given a well draining, non-soggy, sunny place to live. It is in the carrot family, has bright green ferny foliage, grows about 3 ft tall, and blooms with an umbel of white flowers in early summer.

Osha is a powerful healing herb for respiratory concerns and digestion. It is so effective and desirable, the commercial wild harvesting of it has decimated some wild stocks. If you buy a preparation of it, find out if it’s been ethically harvested. Or grow your own. Let it grow for a couple of years and become a patch of itself. Harvest a couple of roots and leave the rest. It is a very wild plant and does not care much for civilization. Buy it and plant it young, and then, don’t mess with it.