Herbs & Plants

Dodonaea viscosa

Botanical Name: Dodonaea viscosa
Family: Sapindaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales
Genus: Dodonaea
Species: D. viscosa

*D. viscosa subsp. angustifolia (L.f.) J.G.West
*D. viscosa subsp. angustissima (DC.) J.G.West
*D. viscosa subsp. burmanniana (DC.) J.G.West
*D. viscosa subsp. cuneata (Sm.) J.G.West
*D. viscosa subsp. mucronata J.G.West
*D. viscosa subsp. spatulata (Sm.) J.G.West
*D. viscosa (L.) Jacq. subsp. viscosa

Botanical synonyms:
*D. eriocarpa Sm.
*D. sandwicensis Sherff
*D. stenocarpa Hillebr.

Common Names: Native Hops, Florida hopbush, Hopseed Bush, Varnish Leaf, Hopbush, Narrow-leaf hopbush, Wedge-leaf h

Common names in Tamil Nadu, this plant is called vir?li,

Australian common names include: broad leaf hopbush, candlewood, giant hopbush, narrow leaf hopbush, sticky hopbush, native hop bush, soapwood, switchsorrel, wedge leaf hopbush, and native hop.

Additional common names include: ?a?ali?i and ‘a‘ali‘i-ku ma kua and ‘a‘ali‘i ku makani in the Hawaiian language; akeake (New Zealand); lampuaye (Guam); mesechelangel (Palau); chirca (Uruguay, Argentina); Xayramad (Somalia); romerillo (Sonora, Mexico); jarilla (southern Mexico); hayuelo (Colombia); ch’akatea (Bolivia); casol caacol (Seri); ghoraskai (Afghanistan).

Habitat: Dodonaea viscosa is native to Tropical and sub-tropical regions of Asia, Australia, New Zealand and N. America. It grow on the rocky, stony or sandy soils in the montane zone of Victoria. On dry slopes, in fields and sandy soils by the coast in China.

Dodonaea viscosa is a shrub growing to 1–3 m (3.3–9.8 ft) tall, rarely a small tree to 9 m (30 ft) tall. The leaves are variable in shape: generally obovate but some of them are lanceolate, often sessile, 4–7.5 cm (1.6–3.0 in) long and 1–1.5 cm (0.39–0.59 in) broad, alternate in arrangement, and secrete a resinous substance. Many specimens have a pointed or rounded apex. Leaf base is extended. Leaf texture is leathery, tough, but also pliable. Midribs are medium becoming less visible close to the apex. Secondary veins are thin, generally indistinct; Veins: often 6 to 10 pairs, indifferently opposite, subopposite, and alternate, camptodrome. Venation branches from the midrib at different angles, which may vary from 12° to 70°. The basal veins are very ascending in some plants: the angle of divergence may be close to 45°. The basal secondary venation branches from a point near the base of the main vein and becomes parallel with the leaf margin, with the distance of 1 millimeter to 2 millimeters from the edges. Margins are usually toothed or undulating. The remaining secondary veins lay at regular intervals with flowers usually growing at the branches’ ends.

The flowers are yellow to orange-red and produced in panicles about 2.5 cm (0.98 in) in length. The flowers may be only male or female ones, and one plant bears either male or female flowers. However, sometimes they are observed to bear flowers of both sexes. The pollen is transported by anemophily. It is believed that the flowers lack petals during evolution to increase exposure to the wind. The fruit is a capsule 1.5 cm (0.59 in) broad, red ripening brown, with two to four wings.


Cultivation & propagation:
Suitable for: light (sandy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.
It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

The plant can be grown from seeds. However, pre-treatment of the seed in very hot water may be needed. The plant can also be cultivated by taking cuttings. Sometimes this method is also used to obtain female plants with their winged fruits for the aesthetic value. Hopbush can survive long dry periods and is easily cultivated without heavy feeding.

Edible Uses:
The bitter fruits are a substitute for hops and yeast in making beer. The chewed leaves are said to be stimulating but they contain saponins and are also said to be slightly cyanogenic so their use is not very advisable.

Medicinal Uses:
The leaves are anodyne, astringent, diaphoretic, febrifuge (the var. angustissima is normally used, odontalgic and vulnerary. They are applied internally in the treatment of fevers. Externally, they are used to treat toothache, sore throats, wounds, skin rashes and stings. The leaves are apparently effective in the treatment of toothache if they are chewed without swallowing the juice. Leaves may also be used as plasters for wounds. The bark is employed in astringent baths and poultices.

The Seri use the plant medicinally. It was also used to stimulate lactation in mothers, as a dysentery treatment, to cure digestive system disorders, skin problems and rheumatism in Africa and Asia. In New Guinea, people use it as incense for funerals. In the past D. viscosa was used instead of hops for beer brewing by Australians (as reflected in the name “hopbush”)

Other Uses:
The wood is extremely tough and durable. In New Zealand, where it is the heaviest of any native wood, the M?ori have traditionally used it for making weapons, carved walking staves, axe-handles, and weights on drill shafts. D. viscosa is used by the people from the western part of the island of New Guinea, Southeast Asia, West Africa and Brazil for house building and as firewood. Native Hawaiians made pou (house posts), la?au melomelo (fishing lures), and ???? (digging sticks) from ?a?ali?i wood and a red dye from the fruit.

The cultivar ‘Purpurea’, with purple foliage, is widely grown as a garden shrub. Dodonaea viscosa easily occupies open areas and secondary forest, and is resistant to salinity, drought and pollution.[10] It can be used for dune stabilization, remediation of polluted lands and for reforestation. The plant is tolerant to strong winds, and therefore is commonly used as hedge, windbreak, and decorative shrub.

Known Hazards: The leaves are slightly cyanogenic. They are also said to contain saponins. Although quite toxic, saponins are poorly absorbed by the body and most pass straight through without any problems. Saponins can be found in a number of common foods such as some types of beans. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish.

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


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