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Brickellia grandiflora

Created By: Frances Miller, Cuauhtemoc Rios, Forrest Ross.


Brickellia grandiflora

Genus: Brickellia

Species: grandiflora

Family: Compositacea 

Common Name: Prodigiosa, Bricklebush, Hamula, Atanasia, Amarga, Mala Mujer, Rodigiosa, Tasselflower

Photo by: Frances Miller



B. grandiflora is a large bushy herb, between three to five feet tall. Its one main root produces many branches with lancelet leaves around two inches long (McDonald, 2002). The leaves are a rich green color on top and a pail gray-purple on the under side. Prodigiosa can easily be mistaken for catnip because of its leaf structure. The leaves are paired up along the stock; near the flowering top they become alternate. Flowers and seeds grow from stems, which form from the axials on the branches (McDonald, 2002). Its flowers are creamy white to yellow in color forming clusters of composite flowers (Carter, 1997). The petal less flowers droop from the ends of the stems, almost all the way down one side. Prodigiosa is a perennial and can be collected in the same spot almost every year.



Prodigiosa grows in canyons, along roadsides, and in sandy washes across the Southwestern United States. It ranges up to the East Cascades in Washington and Oregon down to the Valley of Mexico and as east as Arkansas (Davidow 1999). It grows between 4,500 to 10,000 feet in elevation. Commonly found in piñon-juniper to tall pine, spruce, and fir forests of higher elevations. The plant grows slowly until rain in late July and August when its growth speeds up and doubles sometimes tripling its original size (McDonald, 2002). In late August it flowers and then seeds. Because it likes to grow in sandy washes the seeds are more likely to fall into running water from the monsoons and be carried down stream to grow.  In New Mexico it grows through out the lower canyons of the Jemez, Guadalupe Mountains, Sangre de Cristo, and in the Gila and Lincoln National Forests (Moore, 1989).


Locations of Brickellia grandiflora across the United States and New Mexico.

United States of America

New Mexico

Medicinal uses

In the Brickellia genus, grandiflora is the most widely used as a medicine (Moore, 1989). 

The  three major healing properties:

  1. Brickellia helps lower high blood sugar levels in insulin-resistant (adult-onset, type II) diabetics. 

  2. Brickellia has great effects on stimulating fat digestion in the gallbladder. This is because it improves bile evacuation from the gallbladder and bile synthesis in the liver. It has been credited with “flushing” or “dissolving” small gallstones out of the body because of the increased flow in bile. 

  3. Brickellia  improves stomach lining and stomach digestion by increasing the quality and quantity of hydrochloric acid secretion in the stomach. This helps to digest foods that can take a long time, which can lead to acid indigestion. 


Prodigiosa is a bitter herb and is probably the reason it is so effective in digestion improvement. 

In Mexico Prodigiosa has been known to be used in baths for acute arthritis (Moore, 1989). 

It can also be helpful to treat diarrhea and other digestive problems. 

It may also have the potential to prevent or even help cataracts in certain cases (Moore, 1989).


Parts used

Collect the stems with leaves; dry in cool dark area in cheese cloth bundle or brown (non-bleached) paper bag. It is most potent before it blooms so that is when it should be collected. The white blooms to the right belong to Brickellia.


Image courtesy of calphotol


As a tea the standard infusion is two to four fluid ounces usually taken in the morning and again in the evening; one teaspoon of herb for every cup of water. The tincture method is 1:5 with 50% alcohol in º to Ω teaspoon doses. It can be taken up to three times a day (Moore, 1989).



Do not take this herb if one is an insulin-dependent (type I) diabetic (McDonald, 2002). Also this herb should not be taken if there is acute cholelithiasis or gall stone blockage already occurring in the bile ducts. Do not use this herb in cases of too much stomach secretion or hyperchlorhydria (Moore, 1989).



The Chemistry of Brickellia grandiflora

According to the ethnobotanical literature, various labdanes, a flavoneglucoside, penduline and penduletine, a dehydronerolidol derivative, a benzofuran and miscellaneous diterpenes are found in different organs of B. grandiflora. Alcohol extracts of leaves were performed and we  found; Phytol, Benzenemethanol diphenyl, Caryophyllene, Copaene and Methyl benzilate. The identity of these compounds was determined by MS detection of gas chromatograph analytes.



Methyl benzil



Carter, Jack L. Trees and Shrubs of New Mexico. Mimbres publishing. 1997.

Davidow, Joie. Infusions of Healing: A Treasury of Mexican-American Herbal Remedies. Simon & Schuster Inc. New York, NY. 1999.

Moore, Michael. Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West. Red Crain Books. Santa Fe, NM. 1993.

Moore, Michael. Medicinal Plants of the Desert Canyon West. Museum of New Mexico Press. Santa Fe, NM. 1989.

McDonald, Richard. Brickellia grandiflora.2002.


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Updated February 13, 2008

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