Emilie Giraud leafs through the medicinal plants found in Mendoza’s Mountains
The Jarilla is the most emblematic indigenous plant in Mendoza. Celebrated for its distinctive aroma, it even has its own day on the 10th of November. The low bush grows in dry, sandy, desert soil and has a small leaf and white and yellow flower. Its resin acts as a sun protector and reduces water evaporation, making the plant particularly suitable for the dry and hot weather. Pleasantly aromatic and very easy to ignite, its wood is nowadays much praised by the traditional Argentinian Sunday asador (bbq man). It is not rare to see a branch of jarilla hanging in the shower of local houses to perfume the atmosphere. Traditionally Jarrilla was used for rituals and is still considered a powerful, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory plant. If you get lost in the mountain, the Jarilla can also serve you as a natural compass as the front of its leaves are oriented toward the east and the back side to the west
Native from Europe, you can find the wild Rosa in Argentina and Chile and especially in the lower Andes. Resistant to many diseases, this rose doesn’t require fertile soil to grow and has expanded so much that some consider it an invasive weed which unbalances the local habitat. However it has great skin reparation properties. Avoid its raw fruits and sharp thorns. In Mendoza, people use its fruit to make jam and herbal tea. Mosqueta’s seed oil is the perfect anti-ageing cream as it is nutritive, regenerative, and can heal scars.
Pulmonaria or “hierba del paño “
With large and hairy, cotton-like leaves, the Pulmonaria grows a 2 meter floral stem of yellow and compact flowers. Considered by Andean mountain climbers as emergency toilet paper, it is also a good medicine for the lungs. People use it to relieve bronchitis and asthma. Its leaves and flowers must be prepared in tea to best take advantage of its healing power.
Artemisia Mendozana / Ajenjo
Its silver color makes the Artemisia very recognizable and it is found on the the rocky and sunny sides of the mountain. It borrows its name from the flamboyant hunting greek goddess, Artemis which means physical integrity and great health and is noted for its feminine qualities. Indeed, apart from being a useful ingredient for liquor and serranos, the ajenjo facilitates menstruation and helps digestion. Used on the skin, it has an anti-inflammatory effect and an antiseptic action.