PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Yerba Buena (Clinopodium douglasii)

What’s a NW native, evergreen, aromatic, culinary and medicinal herb found in PNW coastal and inland forests? It’s something most people have never heard of – Yerba Buena. It means ‘Good Herb’ and is the same name given to the original Spanish settlement which became San Francisco, possibly because of the abundance of this herb growing there. It’s also the name of a Mexican/Latin Fusion Band from the early 2000s who are definitely worth a listen.

Yerba Buena is an underappreciated evergreen culinary herb growing wild in forests, Alaska to California and inland to northwestern Idaho and Montana. Yerba Buena is in the mint family but does not spread aggressively. It forms a very low mat of foliage along stems that root as they creep along. It blooms in mid summer with little pinkish white tubular flowers that get native bumblebees very excited.

Flavor is wonderfully complex. First impression is mint, with hints of thyme, marjoram, and rosemary. Use it as tea, fresh or dried. It has the same properties of most mints – good for digestion, settles the mind, great before bed helping ease you to sleep. A few leaves in a salad are a tasty surprise.

Yerba Buena is found naturally in shady woodlands, at the edges of clearings and along trails. You can grow it in a shady part of any garden. It will also be happy scrambling over and around rocks in a wall with a half day of sun.