Labrador Tea

Diamon Naturals

Alaena Charlotte Diamon



Labrador Tea (Ledum groenlandicum)

Name: groenlandicum, "of Greenland ", a reference to its northern distribution;
Labrador Tea, yet another reference to its northern distribution and to its common use as a tea by native Americans.

Common Names: Bog Labrador Tea, James Tea, Marsh Tea, Swamp
Tea, Muskeegobug Aniibi (Ojibwe; "swamp growing tea", contains the Ojibwe
root for the English "muskeg"), Muskeko-pukwa (Cree), Ledum pacificum, Ledum palustre, Rhododendron groenlandicum

Parts Used: Leaf.

Description: A low, broadleaf evergreen, rhizomatous shrub, 1' - 4' tall. Form prostrate to erect, generally circular in outline. Leaves fragrant, oblong, 1"-3", edges curled down, rusty-wooly on underside. Roots in the organic layer. Rhizome depth can reach 6" - 20". Flowers are tiny white clusters on slender stalks at the ends of the branches. Fruit is a dry capsule with many tiny seeds. Flowers late May/early June. Fruits ripen late August through late fall.

Habitat: Open or closed forest habitats, primarily with Black or White Spruce (Picea mariana, Picea glauca). Can also dominate or co-dominate in dwarf shrub communities, bogs, muskegs, or open tundra. Most common on wetter sites with low subsurface water flow and low nutrients. Reaches its greatest cover in bogs, often abundant in the shaded portions of the forest. Found in Alaska, Canada, and Greenland south through New England, the northern parts of the Lake States, Idaho, Washington and Oregon.

Cultivation: Prefers cool, moist, acidic soils; some shade.

Grows With: Tamarack, Black Spruce, White Spruce, Jack Pine, Speckled Alder, Juneberries, Bog Rosemary, Bog Birch, Leatherleaf, Bunchberry, Creeping snowberry, Bog Laurel, Chokecherry, Late Low Blueberry, Velvet Leaf Blueberry, Small Cranberry, Mountain Cranberry, Sedges, Blue Bead Lily, Moccasin Flower, Cotton Grass, Dwarf Rattlesnake Plantain, Tall Northern Bog Orchid, Blunt Leaf Orchid, Indian Pipe, Cinnamon Fern, Purple Pitcher Plant, Bog False Solomon's Seal, Starflower, Reindeer Lichens, Dicranum Moss, Schreber's Feathermoss, Hair Cap Mosses, Sphagnum Mosses. Leaves and twigs browsed by caribou and moose. 

Propagation and Reproduction: Sprouts from rhizomes or the root crown following low to moderate severity fires. One of the first plants to recolonize burned bogs; grows rapidly following fire. Reproduces primarily vegetatively but can reproduce by seed . It regenerates vegetatively through sprouting from rhizomes. Length and depth of rhizomes are greatly influenced by soil and moisture characteristics. Propagation by seed, following cold stratification. Division most successful method.

Constituents: Tannins. Diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, pectoral, tonic. Boiling water is the best solvent. 

Uses: The strongly aromatic leaves of can be used to make a palatable herbal tea, rich in vitamin C. As a folk medicine the tea was used externally for all kinds of skin problems. Taken internally, the tea was used to stimulate the nerves and stomach. A syrup made from the tea was sometimes used for coughs and hoarseness. American Indians used the leaf tea for asthma, colds, stomach aches, kidney ailments, scurvy, fevers, blood purifier, and rheumatism. Externally, may be helpful as a wash for burns, ulcers, stings, chafing, Poison Ivy rash. DOSAGE: 1 teaspoon for 1 cup of boiling water; 3 times daily. A strong decoction has been recommended for external use as a remedy for itching and eruptions accompanied by fever. For Homoeopathic clinical use, tincture dried small twigs and leaves collected after flowering begins; tincture of whole fresh plant may be useful for Asthma, Bites, Black eye, Boils, Bruises, Deafness, Ear (inflammation of), Eczema, Erythema nodosum, Face (pimples on), Feet (pains in, tender), Gout, Haemoptysis, Hands (pains in), Intoxication, Joints (affections of, cracking in Menier's disease), Pediculosis, Prickly heat, Puncture wounds, Rheumatism, Skin (eruption on), Stings, Tetanus, Tinnitus, Tuberculosis, Varicella, Whitlow, Wounds. Accommodates Coughs, Bronchitis, Bronchial asthma, Tubercular lungs, Stomach sickness, Headache, Kidney and weak Bladder, Rickets, Diarrhea, Rheumatism (internally, and as a liniment or ointment), Pains in the chest, Scrofula, Scaby dandruff (blanketed on the scalp, or in patches). Is reputed to cure Bronchitis in two weeks. Recommended as a tea decoction of 1 oz. tea to 2 pints boiling water; drink as required, a mouthful at a time (Medicina, Moscow, 1965). Externally: Russian Homoeopaths boil the flowers in fresh butter, making an ointment for skin diseases, bruises, wounds, bleeding and rheumatism (Moscow University, 1963).

Miscellaneous: Folk remedy for coughs, lung ailments, dysentery, indigestion; used externally for leprosy, itching, and to kill lice. Blend Sweetgrass, Lemon Grass and Labrador Tea to create a favorite traditional tea of the north.

Caution: Only the leaves are used; the plant is slightly poisonous. Care must be observed when drying as one of the various volatile ether oils it contains is 7.5 per cent Ledum; the strong aroma from which could seriously affect the heart if one is in too close confinement during this plant drying stage (Moscow University, 1963).

Flower Essence: Centers energy in the body, in the moment; relieves stress associated with the experience of extremes; helps us continually learn a new perspective of balance.  Helps overcome addictions, centering after traumatic experiences.

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