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A pretty subscandent perennial shrub with semi-woody striate stems and flexible branches; leaves simple, alternate, oblong, short-cuneate at the base passing into a very short amplexicaul, exauriculate, reddish periole; flowers bright red, in long terminal spikes. Root contains Plumbagin, sitosteraol glocoside. It is used gastric stimulant and appetizer; in large doses it is acro-narcotic poison. Locally it is vasicant. It has a specific action on the uterus. Root is said to increase the digestive power and promote appetite. Plumbagin stimulates the central nervous system in small doses, while with larger doses paralysis sets in leading ultimately to death. The blood pressure shows a slight fall. Plumbagin is a powerful irritant and has well marked antiseptic properties. In small doses, the drug is a sudorific; large doses cause death from respiratory failure. It is suggested that the action is probably due to the direct effect of the drug on the muscles. A liniment made from bruised root mixed with a little bland oil is used as a rubefacient in rheumatism, paralytic affections, in enlarged glands, buboes etc. Caution: Do not use when pregnant; use only in small doses. It can cause abortion. Taken in large doses, this herb can cause paralysis leading ultimately to death.
Prestonia mollis, commonly referred to as Babeiro, is a large shrub reaching heights of 5-10 ft tall; it thrives best in full sun exposure and with regularly watered soil. Its blooms consist of light-yellow and orange flowers with a faint fluorescent glow about them. Despite its charming flowers, Prestonia mollis is considered an irritating plant because of its naturally occurring compound known as Dihydrothalicin, a derivative of Thalicin.
Prestonia mollis has a natural range from Mexico down to Peru, and is rugged enough to withstand harsh temperatures from USDA Zone 9-11. It grows best in moist but well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter, as many of its varieties are known as heavy feeders. Although it can resist drought, it prefers regular irrigation.
To ensure it thrives in colder climates, it should be grown in a pot and brought indoors when temperatures reach 45°F. It should be placed in a location that receives enough sunlight, yet away from any drafty windows; when indoors, the temperature should stay at a minimum of 55°F. During the warmer months, it should be taken outdoors to provide it with at least 8 hours of direct sunlight, ensuring adequate exposure to wind, rain, and an ample amount of natural fertilizer.
Regular pruning and regular application of fertilizer during the warm seasons is also required for Prestonia mollis. Since its natural compound discourages some herbivorous, regular sprays of neem oil can help protect it from other garden pests.
Annual growing to 1m. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil. Requires a well-drained porous soil in a warm sheltered position.
Young fruits, harvested whilst still tender enough to be pierced with a fork, can be sliced and added to soups as a thickening agent.An edible oil is obtained from the seed. Due to the unusual shape of the pods, and the pretty, orchid-like, pink or lavender flowers, the plants are grown as ornamentals and for floral arrangements, as well as for pickling.
Some people call these plants nasty because the leaves and stems are covered with a resinous slime.
Medium tree. Leaves narrowly ovate, sharply toothed. Flower bright pink in clusters. Ovoid 1/2" fruit, bright red and shiny, with single stone. Often grown along roadsides for its beautiful flowers. It is in flower in April. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by insects.
Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavor. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death. Originally introduced as a garden ornamental for its attractive blossom but now an aggressive invader in many parts of southern Africa.