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Botanical Name : Castela erecta
Family : Simaroubaceae – Quassia family
Genus : Castela Turp. – castela
Species: Castela erecta Turp. – goatbush
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Synonyms: Castela nicholsoni Hook, Castelaria micholsoni (Hook.) Small
Common Names :Cockspur, Amargosa,Goat-bush, Retama, and Urupagüita
Habitat :Castela erecta is native to Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Curacao, Aruba, northern Venezuela and northern Colombia (Howard 1988, Little and others 1974). It is not known to have been planted or naturalized elsewhere.
Castela erecta is a coastal species. It grows in beach strand vegetation, in sandy soils behind it, and on rocky escarpments and hills somewhat inland (Fundación La Salle de Ciencias Naturales 2002), a dominant to minor part of local xeric scrub communities (Locklin 2002). It occurs to an elevation of about 100 m in Puerto Rico (Little and others 1974).
Castela erecta is an evergreen, spiny shrub 1 to 4 m in height and up to 10 cm onstem diameter. The plant is multi-stemmed and branchy. The twigs are stiff, sometimes zig-zag, whitish from fine hairs, and end in spines. There are also short spines at the leaf bases. The foliage is sometimes dense, composed of alternate simple oblong to elliptic, almost sessile leaves, 0.6 to 2.5 cm long by 0.3 to 1.2 cm broad, dark green and glabrous above, and hairy below. The foliage and twigs are bitter. Flowers are tiny, whitish to red and tightly clustered in the leaf axils. The fruits are 6- to 10-mm, red, fleshy drupes, one to four developing from a flower. Each fruit contains one hard seed.
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Internally it is used as a tea for amebic dysentery, possibly hepatic amebiasis and for loss of appetite and nonulcer dyspepsia with fullness, flatulence
Castela erecta helps protect the soil and furnishes food and cover for wildlife. The sister species C. texana (T.&G.) Rose, once considered a part of cockspur as C. erectas subsp. texana (T. & G.) Cronq., is considered an important browse species (Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales. 2002). The common name, goat-bush, suggests that it is browsed by goats.
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