The Forager's Path - School of Botanical Studies

Plant Profile: Silk Tassel

Botanical Name:
Garrya spp.


Common Names:
Silk Tassel is the name mostly used in my experience using it in New Mexico and Arizona. Michael Moore lists other common names as Quinine Bush, Bear Brush, Guachichi, Cuauchichic

Primary Characteristics for Field ID:
They have beautiful and showy white trailing flowers in spring, prompting the common name. This bush is from 4’ – 7’ high and has light colored, almost bluish-green leaves. Initially, it is not an attention grabbing plant and many non-herbalists would place it in the ‘generic green bush’ category.“Arizona Herbal medicine” “Sedona herbal medicine” “Phoenix herbal medicine” “Colorado herbal medicine” “Las Vegas herbal medicine” “Prescott herbal medicine” “Flagstaff herbal medicine” “Oak Creek Canyon” “New Mexico herbal medicine” “Flagstaff essential oil” “Flagstaff essential oils” “Flagstaff aromatherapy” “Prescott essential oil” “Prescott essential oils” “Prescott aromatherapy” “Sedona essential oil” “Sedona essential oils” “Sedona aromatherapy” “Phoenix essential oil” “Phoenix essential oils” “Phoenix aromatherapy” “Las Vegas essential oil” “Las Vegas essential oils” “Las Vegas aromatherapy”

Southwest Habitat:
In northern Arizona, it is commonly found in Oak Creek Canyon and around Sedona, often mixed in with the pinon-juniper flora.

Energy & Tastes:
Cold, dry, bitter. Not a pleasant tasting plant at all.

Herbal Actions:
A dependable smooth and skeletal muscle relaxant. Having fairly strong actions, consider this herb more medicinal than tonic.

Therapeutic Uses:
My clinical experience has been working with menstrual cramps and it was quite helpful. It is best used for short term acute pain and cramping conditions: there are better relaxants for chronic issues.

It should also be considered for short term relief of excess tension in the lower third of the trunk: liver-gall bladder, UTI, digestive cramping, kidney stones.

A strong acting plant, my approach is to dose carefully. Start with 15-20 drops of the fresh tincture and take an additional 15 drops as needed after every 30-45 minutes. This herb is meant to reduce excess physical tension so one should feel better when using it. If any physical discomfort occurs, stop using the herb.

Herbal Combos:
It combines well with many other muscle relaxing herbs such as:
Wild Yam

Safety Issues & Contraindications:
Having fairly strong actions, this is more medicinal than tonic. While I have never seen bad reactions in clinical work, Michael Moore advises to stop use if one becomes short of breath or cold and clammy. This should not happen if dosing as described above.

This plant can have a strong relaxing effect on the female reproductive system so it should not be used during pregnancy or breast feeding.

While there is no specific toxicity, I find it too strong to use with younger children.

Preferred Method of Preparation:
A fresh tincture of the leaves in 95% alcohol. Bark and twigs have the same actions but using the leaves places less stress on the plant (and they are easier to harvest)

The Plant Profiles are brief materia medica summaries of plants encountered during plant walks or introduced during class on our longer programs. They are presented here to help students organize plant info on an ongoing basis. Although the Profiles are not meant to be comprehensive, they are offered here to the public in the hope that others find these pages useful.


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