Home |
Goals |
Workshop |
Plants |
Diseases |
Publications |
Database |
Search |
Resources |
Links |
Thelesperma megapotamicum

Thelesperma megapotamicum

Taxomony: Magnoliophyta (angiosperm), Magnoliopsida (dicot), Asteraceae (Compositae)

Common Names: Colorado, Colorado Greenthread, Cota, Greenthread, Hopi Tea, Hopi Tea Greenthread, Navajo Tea

Zoncho Tso (Bridges Program Participant, Summer 1999)

Thelesperma megapotamicum is better known by the Navajos as either Navajo Tea or Hopi Tea. This herb has been gathered and prepared by these tribes for many centuries.

The flower on this herb stands out in a radiant yellow beam extending from its long slender stalks. This perrennial is also known as T. gracile.The leaves grow opposite to each other the majority being pinnately parted out in a few lobes that are narrow. The heads are small to medium in size and are bright yellow in color. (Kearney and Peebles, 908-909) The fruit is so small and is enbedded within the flower that it may remain unnoticed unless being specifically search for.

Thelesperma megapotamicum can be found on the Navajo and Hopi Reservations by the roadsides, on dry or grassy plains, and mesas at an elevation of ~ 4,000 to 7,500 ft. According to the Arizona Flora it can also be found in "Nebraska and Wyoming to Utah, south to Texas, Arizona and Mexico; southern South America." (Kearney and Peebles, 909)

Cultural Aspects:

Teachings are passed down from generation to generation about herbs and lifestyles. This is one that has been passed down to me from my mother.

When Navajos gather this herb or other plants it is important to give a prayer and explain to the plant why it is being removed from its home. If this is not done then they have broken the balance and harmony of Mother Earth. Harvesting is done by, taking some herbs from all four directions (to keep balance); North, East, South and West. Never take more than can be used, always leave some behind. and give prayer of thanks. In doing so, Mother Earth will continue to bear her fruits.

Plant Preparation

When gathering break stem off 2-3 inches from the topsoil. This will allow a new stem and flower to grow in its place (Tso, personal interview,1999). If gathering by the roadside, pick flowers furthest from the road.

When preparing first wash thoroughly, shake off excess water. Have a string nearby, to tie bundles (I prefer the string off a bag of Blue Bird Flour). Take two stalks if long (more than 10 inches), three to four is shorter. Fold ~3 1/2 inches from the root end, continue until all is folded. Tie string around twice and knot. This tea bundle can be now boiled and enjoyed or can be dried and stored (perferably in a dark area; ex., brown bag or canister) for later use.

Tea Beverage Preparation

Take one bundle of the prepared tea ~10 -12 cups of water and boil for about 5 minutes. Sugar or honey can be added to sweeten.


 Medicinal Uses:

  • Considered useful for the Kidneys
  • Settle the stomach
  • Purify the blood (Moore,1990)
  • Gonorrhea (Personal Interview)
  • Nervous stimulant
  • Toothache remedy (Elmore,89)


  • Beverage

Other Uses:

  • Dye for basketry
  • Textile Dye

 Active Compounds:

  • Luteolin
  • Luteolin-7-O Glucoside
  • Marein (Ateya)


Luteolin - The Activities

[Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Database]

  • Aldose-Reductase-Inhibitor
  • AntiHIV
  • Anticataract
  • Anticomplementary
  • Antidermatic
  • Antifeedant
  • Antiherpetic
  • Antihistaminic
  • Antiinflammatory
  • Antimutagenic
  • Antioxidant
  • Antipolio
  • Antispasmodic
  • Antitussive
  • Antiviral
  • Aphidifuge
  • Bactericide
  • Cancer-Preventive
  • Choleretic
  • Deiodinase-Inhibitor
  • Diuretic
  • Hepatoprotective
  • Iodothyronine-Deiodinase-Inhibitor
  • Myorelaxant
  • Pesticide
  • Spasmolytic
  • Succinoxidase-Inhibitor
  • Xanthine-Oxidase-Inhibito


Ateya, et al. Flavonoids of Thelesperma megapotanicum. Planta Medica, 45: v. 4, 247-248. 1972
Epple, Annie Orth. A field guide to the Plants of Arizona, 1995
Kearney and Peebles. The Flora of Arizona. 1951
Moore, Micheal. Los Remedios Traditional Herbal Remedies of the Southwest. 1990
Plants For A Future. 1997
Tso, Theresa. Personal Interview. June 29, 1999
Tso, Yvonne. Personal Interview July 3, 1999
Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Database

Questions about Navajo Tea
ask Zoncho

To email us add "" after "moconnel"

Updated February 13, 2008

Publications |
Database |
Search |
Links |