salvia apiana

White sage has been widely poached from the Santa Monica Mountains (and elsewhere) to sell as ‘smudge sticks’ to folks with no cultural connection to the spiritual practice of smudging … yet another case of capitalism leading to species depletion.

After hearing me mourn the situation, Annette gave me this (nursery-raised) plant yesterday. I will try to keep it alive by practicing benign neglect — it wants no food and little water. First step will be getting it out of the rich potting mix and into the sandy, nutrient-poor native soil. Wish me luck with its nurture!


Astrida and I are going to do some indigo dyeing today. I realized that I know nothing about the indigo plant, so did some research (thank you, internet).

True indigo is a legume with pink or violet flowers. It has been naturalized to tropical and temperate Asia, as well as parts of Africa, but its native habitat is unknown since it has been in cultivation worldwide for many centuries.

Dye is obtained from the processing of the plant’s leaves. Today most dye is synthetic, but natural dye from I. tinctoria is still available, and that’s what we’re going to be using today.

don’t eat the lilies!

After completing this sketch, I was hiking back down the trail, and met a group of young adults on their way up. One guy asked me if there was asparagus growing nearby, because he’d just picked and eaten some. Uh … no. There is no asparagus growing here. After reminding him that all plants in the Park are protected, and that some are poisonous, we parted ways. A little further down the track I found the broken plant. I knew it was some kind of lily about to flower, but it wasn’t till I got home I learned that it was Toxicoscordion fremontii (Frémont’s deathcamas or common star lily). As the name suggests, it’s highly toxic to livestock and humans.

I hope he’s OK, but … what a foolish human being! People, don’t go eating plants in the wild unless you know for sure what they are!