Ligusticum porteri, known as Osha, is a perennial herb found in parts of the Rocky Mountains and northern Mexico, especially in the southwestern United States.
Its common names include osha root, Porter’s lovage, Porter’s licorice-root, lovage, wild lovage, Porter’s wild lovage, loveroot, Porter’s ligusticum, bear medicine, bear root, Colorado cough root, Indian root, Indian parsley, wild parsley, mountain ginseng, mountain carrot, nipo and empress of the dark forest.
Osha is strictly a mountain plant, and it is most commonly found in deep, moist soils rich in organic material. The plant requires partial shade. Osha is widely distributed in the Rocky Mountains and the high mountains of northwestern Mexico.
Osha is dependent on mycorrhizal fungi, and attempts to artificially cultivate the plant outside of its habitat have not been successful. Cultivation in areas where osha naturally grows have been more successful.
Osha has the typical appearance of members of the parsley family, with parsley-like leaves and umbels of white flowers.
The common Mexican name for the plant, chuchupate, is said to be an ancient Aztec term meaning “bear medicine.” Bears respond to the herb like cats do to catnip.