This is a neat plant native to the southwestern United States, though I’ve only seen it in Nevada. It is a perennial herb and its genus only has one species.
Yerba Mansa, also known as Lizard Tail, prefers very wet soil or shallow water. I’ve only encountered in in areas of the desert where there are natural springs.
This plant is showy in Spring when in bloom. It forms a compact group of tiny flowers that grow in an unusual, conical flower head and are surrounded by white petal-like leaves.
Yerba Mansa is commonly pollinated by bees and other insect pollinators. Once it has finished blooming, the entire cone-like flower structure develops into a hard fruit that falls off the plant travels down waterways to spread the plant’s seeds.
The leaves growing nearest to the ground have a rounded tip, and are often heart-shaped at the base, while the stem leaves are much smaller.
Historically, Yerba Mansa was used to disinfect and treat open wounds and sores, as well as to treat colds, coughs, and ulcers. Today it is still used to treat a variety of medical ailments.
I always enjoy coming across this odd, yet very cool plant on my hikes.