Florida fishpoison tree

Botanical Name : Piscidia erythrina
Family: Fabaceae
Genus:     Piscidia
Species: P. piscipula
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Fabales

Common Names: Florida fishpoison tree, Jamaican dogwood or Fishfuddle

Habitat :Florida fishpoison is native to  West Indies, Florida, Texas, Mexico, the northern part of South America.It tree grows in coastal zones. It prefers well-drained sandy soils, with a top layer of humus. The tree has some tolerance to short-term storm surges of brackish water or seawater. Although it grows in coastal conditions, the tree is usually protected from direct salt spray by adjoining vegetation. Established trees are highly tolerant of drought. Its sensitivity to the cold limits Florida fishpoison tree to areas no colder than plant hardiness zone11.

Description:
Florida fishpoison is a medium-sized, deciduous tree. It attains medium size with heights of 12 to 15 m and bole diameters of 46 to 118 cm. An irregular, open crown develops with stout, erect branches.

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The leaves (9 to 23 cm long) are alternate and pinnately compound. Five to 11 leaflets (each 4 to 8 cm long) are present in an opposite arrangement. Leaflets are dark green above and distinctly paler grayish-green below with pubescence.

The  flowers are white and tinged with red or pink. They appear in pea-like clusters in May and are attractive to bees. Trees will potentially bloom when about 4 m tall and 4 years old. Flowers develop into a light brown, bean-like pod (8 to 10 cm long) with four papery wings. Ripening in July and August, the pods contain red-brown seeds with oval shapes.

The stem bark is thin and olive gray in color with irregular dark patches and many smaller scales. The bark has an unpleasant odor and a distinctly acrid and bitter taste, causing a burning sensation in the mouth.

Cultivation & Propagation: After removal from the ripe pod, seeds will germinate in 8 to 10 days when sown about 6 mm deep in moist soil. Until seedlings become well established, they should be fertilized and watered. Cuttings placed in moist soil quickly sprout roots. In fact, rooting has been observed to occur so readily that posts made from fresh timber occasionally take root unintentionally.

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Medicinal Uses:
Chemical Constituents: Resin, fat, a crystallizable substance called piscidin and in the aqueous extract of the bark piscidic acid, and a bitter glucoside.

It has been used in herbal medicine for treating nervous conditions and pain. Recent scientific studies in animals suggest that bark extracts may have potential for their anti-inflammatory, sedative, and anti-spasmodic effects

In some subjects it cures violent toothache, neuralgia and whooping-cough and promotes sleep, and acts as an antispasmodic in asthma. It also dilates the pupil and is useful in dysmenorrhoea and nervous debility. In other subjects it only causes gastric distress and nausea; over doses produce toxic effects.

Other Uses:
Ornamental: In areas with a suitable climate and soils, Florida fishpoison tree makes a hardy, medium-sized shade tree with attractive seasonal flowers. It is ideal for yards and along fence rows. The species is shade intolerant, requiring full sunlight for maximum development.
Lumber

Wood: The yellow-brown wood of fishpoison tree is resistant to decay, making its timber suitable for outdoor usage, such as boat building, fence posts, and poles. The dense, tight-grained wood is also used as a fuel, to make charcoal, and as a good carving material.
Fishing

Fish poison: Indigenous peoples all over the world used local poisonous plants to aid in catching fish, and because of this many plants bear common names descriptive of this use.Within its natural range, Native Americans used an extract from the bark, roots, twigs, and leaves of Florida fishpoison tree to sedate fish, making them easier to catch. A number of chemicals are present in the tree’s tissues that are toxic to fish, the principal one being the well-known Rotenone

Known Hazards:Florida fishpoison can be toxic and should only be used under direction of a doctor.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piscidia_piscipula
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/d/dogwoo19.html

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