Ligusticum grayi Page
These class notes were written by Howie Brounstein @1993. You are welcome to reprint them as long as this paragraph is included. Feel free to send comments to Columbines and Wizardry Herbs, Inc.
PO Box 50532, Eugene, OR 97759, USA. All the color medicinal plant photos are linked from Southwest School of Botanical Medicine's enormous archive of North American medicinal plants. Sometime these links will lead to a plant that is a different species but similar to what you might find with Ligusticum grayi. Last update December, 1996.
Oshala, Gray's Lovage, Osha (mistakenly). Ligustikon is
name of some ancient Greek Umbelliferae.
Native perennial with aromatic taproots; 2-6 dm tall,
no spots on stem; leaves mostly basal, dissected, compound, and
either ternate (3's) or ternate-pinnate; flowers white to pink in
compound umbels, no involucre, occasionally a few involucels; fruits
laterally flattened, oblong to ovate, glabrous (no hair), and
prominently ribbed to slightly winged, stylopodium present.
This plant is virtually impossible to key out in Gilkey's Handbook
of Northwestern Plants. She says the flowers of this plant are
purple, and calls it Purple Lovage. I have never seen one purple
flower after checking tens of thousands of these plants. Gilkey uses
flower color as a keying characteristic.
Oshala, Ligusticum grayi, can be confused with Poison Hemlock,
Conium maculatum, relatively easily because of their similar fruits
and general stature. Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum, has a spotted
stem and a mousy odor in its roots. It is a weedy plant that grows
at low elevations in disturbed soils. Oshala, Ligusticum grayi, is a
mid-elevation native with a distinctive odor and no spots on its
stems. Although these plants grow in different elevations and
habitats, it is essential for a safe wildcrafter to distinguish the
The highly poisonous Water Hemlock, Cicuta douglasii, is of real
concern when harvesting Oshala, Ligusticum grayi. Water Hemlock,
Cicuta douglasii, has a distinctly different fruit, root smell, and
to a discerning eye, leaf shape. It generally grows at low elevations
in aquatic or semi-aquatic ecosystems. Even though Oshala, Ligusticum
grayi, grows in drier meadows at mid-elevations upward, I have
observed both of these plants growing close together with a number of
other mixed umbelliferaes in wet meadows on the border of low and
mid-elevations. Always harvest umbelliferaes when identifiable in
seed, and don't harvest plants near the highly toxic Water Hemlock,
Cicuta douglasii. Every wildcrafter who harvests umbelliferaes must
know Water Hemlock, Cicuta douglasii, very well.
Moist to dry, open to wooded, mountain slopes and drier
meadows from mid-elevation upward to sub-alpine systems, This species
grows in the Cascades and the Sierras, east to central Idaho and
northeast Nevada. Blooms from July to September.
At mid-elevations: False Hellebore, Veratrum
viride; Valerian, Valeriana sitchensis; Senecio triangularis.
Although this plant is a perennial, pick only a
portion of the stand. Re-seed when the fruiting stem falls off during