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|Toothache Plant |
Scientific Name:Spilanthes acmella (L.) Murray
Synonym: Bidens acmella, Bidens ocymifolia, Pyrethrum acmella, Spilanthes ocymifolia, Verbesina acmella, Blainvillea acmella
Sun Exposure: Light shade
Origin: African and South American tropics
Growth Habits: Perennial, often grown as annual
Watering Needs: Regular water
Propagation: Stem cuttings,Seed
A small, erect plant, it grows quickly and sends up gold and red flower heads in the fall. The first frost reduces it to slime, but in warmer climates it is perennial.Identical to yellow flowered species except in flower colour. . r The entire plant (root, stem, leaf and flower) is medicinally active and non-toxic to humans. A simple alcohol-based liquid extract may be made of the entire fresh plant, or the buds or leaves may be chewed. The dried plant is also medicinally active, and especially the dried flower buds retain their "zing" for up to a year after harvest. There are at least thirteen species (probably more) worldwide, which contain varying concentrations of active constituents. I have familiarity with only two species: Spilanthes acmella and S. oleracea. Of these, S. acmella has a lighter green foliage and tends to set more flowers, which are flattened at first, becoming conical as they mature. S. oleracea (oleracea means edible) is a larger-leaved plant, perhaps a bit more robust, with purplish leaves and larger, less numerous flowers, which are more flattened, resembling bi-color buttons. Medicinally, either species works fine. The leaves of Spilanthes may be used as a salad ingredient, but only very sparingly, and probably will be appreciated only by the most heroic of vegetarians
The leaves and flower heads contain analgesic,antifungal,antheminthic, and antibacterial agents, but some of the compounds are destroyed bydesiccation or freezing. As noted in the Culinary Uses section, Spilanthes is also a potent sialogogue.
The main active ingredient, spilanthol, has been reported poisonous to invertebrates (though harmless to warm-blooded creatures) and effective against blood parasites at even low concentration. The herb exhibits general immunomodulator properties when used internally, boosting production of leukocytes and antiviral interferon, as well as promoting phagocytosis.
The leaves may be used topically to treat bacterial and fungal skin diseases such as ringworm.
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