Scarlet Gaura is a pretty perennial common in a large part of the western United States and blooms May through August.
Scarlet Gaura are pollinated by night moths, so the flower bud opens white in the afternoon. By morning it has turned pink, then the flower dries to red. Each bud lasts one day.
The Navajo used Scarlet Gaura as an infusion to settle a child’s stomach after vomiting and as a “life medicine” especially after an internal injury.
I don’t have much to go on as far as what a life medicine is, I suspect it is something approximating “tonic” which is usually a restorative plant that is nutritious to multiple body systems. They are gentle food-medicine. That’s my story, what is yours?
Scarlet Gaura can form large colonies in disturbed areas, but are not strong competitors once plants come back in. I have read it is deemed invasive in some areas, but although it grew in Texas, it was not highly competitive in a prairie setting. I have seen more Scarlet Gaura here in New Mexico, it likes bare, disturbed soil.
Since I never realized that Scarlet Guara is edible and a life medicine to boot, I went straight outside for a taste test. No doubt this isn’t its best time, 90°F outside and in full bloom, but it still has a mild flavor with a touch of astringency as an aftertaste. Cooking would drop the astringency. I deem Scarlet Guara edible. The rhizomes are edible too and are similar to parsnips, but I will need a larger colony to eat roots.
I did not have mature seed pods to collect, but the seeds are high in gamma linoleic acid (GLA), a rare plant source of the essential Omega-6 fatty acid, so I will collect seeds as a nutritient supplement.
GLA supports brain function, normal growth and development, stimulates skin and hair growth, maintains bone health, and helps regulate metabolism. Truly a llife medicine.
Scarlet Gaura is a good addition to my food forest, and if it gets invasive I will eat its roots. Until further notice, though, I am likely to collect seeds for their GLA.
I have a patch of these on my Northwest corner, a good bare patch before they colonized. It is about 6×6 feet and laps into the neighbors’ property. When I went out to look at them she came over and we agreed to let them grow, since they are short and pretty bloomers. During monsoon I will dig a Scarlet Guara rhizome and transplant to my garden for an expansion crop and my neighbor plans to do the same, but for the flowers only. We both hope the current colony will expand for the pretty Scarlet Gaura flowers.