Florida is known as a land of flowers, and certainly this time of year you can see the evidence of it. Starting in the spring and going through fall, when you drive up and down the state, you’ll see large patches of color on the side of the roads and in the medians. Right now, the predominant color, at least in Central and North Florida, tends to be yellow. Mostly this can be attributed to the Florida state wildflower, Coreopsis.
There are 16 species of Coreopsis that occur in the state, and all are recognized as the state flower. There are a few species on this list that are not native to Florida but are considered to be naturalized. Coreopsis tinctoria, C. aurculata, and C. basalis. This list also includes at least one endangered species, C. integrifolia. Ironically, the species of Coreopsis usually used in the promotional material of the state is one that is not native, C. tinctoria. This is also the species I’m focusing on for this post as it has the most documentation of medicinal and edible uses.
Coreopsis tinctoria is a member of the Aster (Asteraceae) Family. Originally native to the eastern half of the North American continent, it has been naturalized from coast to coast and all across Canada and Alaska. It is equally at home in cottage gardens and along roadsides, where it is often seen in Florida. One of its common names, 'tickseed' is a nod to its Latin designation. The word 'koris' means insect or bug and the suffix 'opsis' is a general designation meaning that the plant resembles the prefix. So core (koris) - opsis means that part of this plant (the seeds) resembles an insect. The Latin word, tinctoria means useful for dye.
Common Names- Coreopsis, Tickseed, Plains Coreopsis, Golden Tickseed, Goldenwave, Calliopsis, Atkinson's tickseed, Dyer's Coreopsis, Plains Coreopsis, Annual Coreops
Scientific Name- Coreopsis tinctoria, C. cardaminifolia
Edibility- Flowers boiled in water makes a red liquid used as a beverage. Also, a tea made from the dried plant can be used as a coffee substitute.
Summary of Actions- Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, astringent, emetic
Parts Used- The whole plant is used in slightly different ways
Traditional Native American Uses- A number of Southern Tribes, including Cherokee, used a tea made from the root for diarrhea and as an emetic. The dried tops of the plant were used in a tea to strengthen the blood. The whole plant was also boiled to make a drink for internal pains and bleeding.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Known as Snow Chrysanthemum, or Kun Lun Xue Ju, this North American native has made its way into TCM where it is used in several formulas to help with high blood pressure, insomnia, and inflammation.
Insomnia- The tea can be used to improve one’s ability to sleep and their quality of sleep.
Emetic- This roots of this herb can be used to induce vomiting. Some traditional cultures used emetics to cleanse their bodies before undergoing certain rituals. Coreopsis can also be used in the case of accidental toxin ingestion.
Digestive and Elimination Problems- The roots may be used to brew a tea that is useful in the treatment of diarrhea. The tea may also help in reducing the symptoms of inflamed bowels, especially in the case of chronic enteritis.
Diabetes- In Portugal, the flowering tops of this herb have been used to make a tea that helps to control hypoglycemia.
Circulatory System- The tea made from this plant has been used to help improve the general health of the circulatory system. Specifically, it also helps to reduce blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and prevent coronary heart disease.
Folk Use- An infusion of the whole plant, minus the root, is traditionally thought to help women who are trying to conceive a female baby.
Attracts Pollinators- Pollinators, especially our native bees, just LOVE this plant. It’s also a host plant for a number of butterflies.
Other/Household Uses- Was used for a source of yellow and red dyes, which was its primary traditional use. The flowers were simply steeped in heated water. Early dyers would add their yarn or fabric to the pot until it absorbed the color. This produced a product that was attractive but wasn't very colorfast. The dye tended to fade over time. Later experiments with different mordants resulted in more vibrant and colorfast items. Today's natural dyers might use any number of products to obtain various colors and shades from the same plant. For those just starting to explore natural dye, alum and vinegar are both easy to obtain and produce interesting results.
Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- There are no known hazards associated with this plant.
I only included a basic introduction to this wonderful Florida native. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram or updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!
Coreopsis: Natural Medicinal Herbs: http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/c/coreopsis-tinctoria=coreopsis.php
Coreopsis tinctoria: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=coti3#:~:text=Use%20Medicinal%3A%20Amerindians%20used%20root,of%20yellow%20and%20red%20dyes.
Coreopsis tinctoria: Practical Plants: https://practicalplants.org/wiki/Coreopsis_tinctoria
Coreopsis tinctoria: Useful Tropical Plants: http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Coreopsis+tinctoria
Coreopsis: Wiki Medicinal Plants: http://wiki.medicinalplants-uses.com/index.php?title=Coreopsis
Coreopsis tinctoria- Dyer’s Coreopsis: Alchemy Works: https://www.alchemy-works.com/coreopsis_tinctoria.html
Coreopsis tinctoria- History, Folklore, and Uses: Dave’s Garden: https://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/coreopsis-tinctoria-history-folklore-and-uses
Coreopsis tinctoria Nutt.: Plants for a Future: https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Coreopsis+tinctoria
Everything You Need To Know About The Coreopsis Plant: NIMVO: https://nimvo.com/coreopsis-plant/
The Flower Tea Coreopsis tinctoria Increases Insulin Sensitivity and Regulates Hepatic Metabolism in Rats Fed a High-Fat Diet: Oxford Academic: https://academic.oup.com/endo/article/156/6/2006/2422826
What Is Snow Chrysanthemum: Transcendent Teas: https://transcendentteas.weebly.com/what-is-snow-chrysanthemum.html