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Snakeweed is a shrubby plant found mostly in the southwestern states and especially abundant in northern Arizona. Although this plant is unpalatable to livestock it is used by many people to treat many different conditions. Considered a native wildflower of the grasslands, snakeweed tends to grow best in dry soils. It stands about five to ten inches tall with a fan or broom like shape that makes it easy to identify in any field. Snakeweed is a member of the sunflower family. In some areas of the country it is considered to be an intrusive weed while in other areas it is welcomed as beneficial.
This plant has dozens of tiny yellow flower heads with each head containing a few flowers. These are clustered on the branches at the very tips. The will usually be about 20 to 30 tips on each stem of the snakeweed, which makes it an unusually colorful plant. It has a single tap root from which all the stems rise. The leaves have a rough feeling similar to fine sand paper and are narrow. In past years this plant has been used for medicinal purposes by several different tribes of Native Americans. The Navajos chewed the stems to form a kind of resin and applied the resin to insect bites and stings of all kinds. Large bundles of the snakeweed stems have been used in various different manners including for hobby and craft work. Some people use the broom shaped fans to make decorative brooms when they are unable to find broomcorn for this purpose. In some forms, such as tea, snakeweed is used to treat such ailments as rheumatism, eye problems, rattle snake bites, sore throats and colds.