Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council Plants Resource Page

Plant of the Month - Vinegar Weed

Lemonade Berry

Vinegar Weed

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Plant Description

Common Name(s):Vinegar Weed
Scientific Name:Trichostema lanceolatum
Family:Lamiaceae
Plant Type:Annual
Size:small shrub 2 feet high
Habitat:dry, sunny fields or low hills
Blooms:June to November

Vinegar weed, while probably better known and identifiable by its odor rather than its appearance, brings a welcome sight in the hot, dry, SoCal summers - a vibrant-looking plant full in bloom when most everything else seems so starved of moisture. It blooms from August to October. The flowers are shaped a bit like blue larkspur, though individually are a bit curlier and more of a faded purple in color. They are also fuller in spacing along the stem. Leaves are opposite of each other on the stem. As a Summer blooming plant, expect to see lots of different pollinators visiting this plant.

Trichostema Lanceolatum is a very aromatic plant, seemingly more so in the middle of a hot sunny day. The odor resembles vinegar, perhaps a bit more medicinal. The inability to pin it down exactly is probably why it has so many common names.

The plant's oils have phytotoxic properties that kill or injure other plant species. It is said that Native peoples used the plant to relieve colds, ease headaches, repel fleas, assist in birthing, and even to catch fish.

You may remember Woolly Blue Curls, featured a couple of months ago on this site, has a similar scientific name. They share the same first name, Trichostema, meaning having hair-like stamens, but whereas lanatum means woolly, lanceolatum refers to the shape of the leaves. The two plants are often grouped together when describing, but if you have ever seen or smelled them, you will know they are different.

Contributed by Liz Baumann

Other Similar Plants:
Woolly Blue Curls Trichostema lanatum
Crimson Pitcher Sage Salvia spathacea
Hedge Nettle Stachys bullata
White Sage Salvia apiana
Purple Sage Salvia leucophylla
Black Sage Salvia mellifera
Chia, Golden Chia Salvia columbariae
Pitcher Sage Lepechinia fragrans
White Hedge Nettle Stachys albens
Skull Caps Scutellaria tuberosa

Originally featured: September 2006
Last modified: October 16 2017 22:44:46.
References:
Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains, by Milt McAuley
Flowering Plants: The Santa Monica Mountains, Coastal and Chaparral Regions of Southern California, by Nancy Dale
Images Botanical Terms for Leaves