Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation

Native Garden

Native Garden Tours available by request.

The earliest inhabitants of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon were the native Indians who lived on the shores and upland areas of the watershed. There were no grocery or drugstores during these times. All of their food, medicine and shelter came from the plants or animals of the lagoon and coastal areas. Although there was an ample supply of fish and wildlife, the majority of the food they consumed came from the native plants. Many of the native plant medicinal applications first discovered by the Indian people have been successfully commercialized by modern day pharmaceutical companies and are used by millions of people around the world.

Our native garden contains over 750 plants, comprising over 50 different species. There are eight different types of sage plants, five varieties of manzanita, four species of wild lilac, and a variety of buckwheat, coffeeberry, currants, honeysuckle and hummingbird fuschia plus many others! All of our native plants are drought tolerant and require very little water. In fact, a good way to kill a native plant is by overwatering it.

Although modern day Californians do not rely on native plants for food or medicine as native people once did, there are many other reasons why the cultivation and use of native plants is important. The use of native plants benefits our ecology by promoting biodiversity and reducing the use of water. Growing native plants in our backyard gardens helps to restore some of the natural biodiversity of southern California which has been drastically reduced through development and urbanization. Restoring balance to our ecosystems benefits wildlife, many of whom are dependent on the habitat provided by native vegetation. Once established, native plants require very little irrigation. Using drought tolerant natives conserves one of our most precious and scarce natural resources and saves money on water costs as well!

The following is a sampling of some of the plants found in our native garden and some of their early uses:

Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium)

To alleviate fevers, headaches, toothaches and as a cold remedy; also as an aid in childbirth; has a legendary ability to halt the flow of blood. Cream-colored flowers are in 3- 4"clusters; native to the western U.S. and is drought and swamp tolerant; cottontails love to munch!

Yarrow
Manzanita

Manzanita (Arctostaphylos Harmony / Sunset / Austin Griffiths)

Ranks 2nd only to the oak trees in terms of important food source. It has been said that an acre of manzanita thicket would yield more nourishment to human life (if the berries were all plucked) then the best acre of wheat ever grown in California, after the expenses of cultivation. Berries used for food and drink; seeds ground into meal to make mush or cakes; used to treat maladies from diarrhea, to headaches and poison oak rashes. Makes an excellent groundcover and is great for a bird or butterfly garden. 43 different species in California.

California Lilac (Ceanothus Concha / Yankee Point / Maritimus / Thrysiflorus Repens)

Many varied uses: soap and detergent, deodorant, as a salve for sores and burns, for relief of coughs, arthritis, fevers, flu, and even diaper rash! One of the most fragrant and colorful shrubs in California. Very drought tolerant, prefer very little water, vary in habitat from groundcover to trees.

California Lilac
Creeping Sage

Sages (Salvia Apiana / Munzii / Spathacea / Gracias / Mellifera Repens / Leuchophylla "Point Sal")

One of the most sacred native plants for the Indian people. Used in ceremonies and as a cleansing herb. Also used for deodorant and shampoo. Medicinal uses: reduce eye irritation; alleviate colds, sore throat and chronic coughs; internal cleanser; as a salve for sores; for heart disorders; for measles and kidney troubles; as a bath for paralysis and earaches; treatment for epilepsy. Food uses: seeds ground into flour to make mush; as a spice for flavoring. Depending on the flora there are 17 to 18 sages native to California. Flowers range from pink, red, blue, purple and white. Sages are visited by hummingbirds, bumblebees, and wasps. (Hummingbirds kill for sages. They defend the sages in their territories like they are the only water in the desert.)

Buckwheat (Erigonium Parvifolium)

The "Boss" of all medicines, used as "Life Medicine" by native peoples. Range of applications: for high blood pressure and hardening of arteries; as a salve for rashes and skin cuts; to alleviate coughs and colds; for rheumatism, sore mouths, aching joints and muscles; as a lotion for pimples; for head and stomach aches and general "female complaints." As food: seeds ground into mush or baked for bread. Wood used to pierce ears. The buckwheats are very important butterfly plants and one of the pillars of their communities. The flowers, leaves and seeds are all used by all the smaller animals.

Red Buckwheat

Photos used with permission of www.laspilitas.com.