Friday, November 25, 2016

Asclepias curssavica

This will be the first is a series of articles into the investigation of plants in the, pine-oak forest region, of Mexico. Important plants are being destroyed and have been replaced by cornfields and other crop lands. 

The plant you are looking at is Asclepias curassavica, commonly known as tropical milkweed. Other common names include bloodflower, cotton bush, hierba de la cucaracha, Mexican butterfly weed, scarlet milkweed, and wild ipecacuanha. The Aztec name for this plant is  ponchihuits, but in Mexican sorcery it is known as veintiunilla, (little twenty-one).

In Mexican folk medicine, the root of the plant is used as an emetic and as a laxative. But among the brujos, the flowers of this plant are used for a very different reason. That reason constitutes one of the most feared forms of witchcraft in Mexico. It is believed that if the flowers are administered to an individual for a period of twenty-one days, the victim will very quickly develop an insatiable craving for alcohol and die in exactly twenty-one days from acute alcoholism.

Asclepias curassavica is grown as an ornamental garden plant and as a source of food for butterflies. Flowering occurs nearly yer round. Below is a photo of a caterpillar (Milkweed Tiger Moth) that ate almost all of my milkweed plants.

Seed pod

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