Herbs & Plants

Heimia salicifolia

Botanical Name: Heimia salicifolia
Family: Lythraceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Myrtales
Genus: Heimia
Species: H. salicifolia

Common Names: Shrubby yellowcrest, Sinicuichi, Sun opener, Willow-leaf heimia, Sini

Habitat: Heimia salicifolia is native to the Americas, ranging from the southwestern United States (Texas and New Mexico) through Mexico and Central America to Argentina. It grows along the sides of streams.

Heimia salicifolia is an erect, much-branched, deciduous shrub growing from 0.5 – 3 metres tall. In cool climates the plant does not fully ripen its stems and these die back to the ground each year. New growth up to 1.5 metres tall is then produced from the base each year. It is in flower from August to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Through seed – Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle. Grow the young plants on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse and plant out in late spring or early summer. Mulch the roots well in the autumn to protect them from the cold.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, mid summer in a frame.

Edible Uses
An intoxicating and euphoric drink is made by crushing the wilted leaves in water and leaving the liquid in a sunny position for three days to ferment. In larger quantities this can induce hallucinations and produces a vision that is typically overcast in yellow.
The plant contains various alkaloids, including vertine and lythrine, which are considered to be responsible for any hallucinogenic activity.

There have been very few human-based trials on the alleged hallucinogenic properties of this plant. Considering an earlier human study using the aerial parts of the plant in 1896, and the results of a trial in 1998 with the extracted alkaloids vertine and lythrine, it is the opinion of the present authors that the alleged psychodysleptic effect of this plant must be due to the ethanol content of the native brews and/or their fortification with another sinicuichi, perhaps the seeds of Rhynchosia praecatoria

Medicinal Uses:
The leaves are antispasmodic antisyphilitic, astringent, emetic, diuretic, febrifuge, haemostatic, hallucinogenic, laxative, sedative, sudorific, tonic and vulnerary. The plant is employed most commonly to treat syphilitic affections.
An infusion serves to stabilize the blood pressure and relieve anxiety. It is said to have a sedative action that depresses activity of the central nervous system and reduces anxiety and induces sleep It is said to induce a state of serene calmness.
A paste made from the leaves and stems is an effective vulnerary and is used to treat wounds and skin problems. A decoction of the plant is employed as a wash to relieve the effects of poison ivy (Rhus toxicodendron). It is also recommended to treat myaigia in the aged and after strenuous physical work and as a post partum bath.

The leaves are said to contain 9% of a bitter principle, nesine, and about 14% of a resin, the latter being the active principle. If the juice or a decoction of the plant is taken internally it is said to produce a mild and pleasant intoxication, during which all objects seen appear to be yellow.

Two other Heimia species are found in the New World:-
Heimia myrtifolia Cham .& Schlecht. is found in Argentina and southeastern Brazil, whilst Heimia monrana (Griseb.) Lillo is found in the mid-elevation forest zone of southern Bolivia and northern Argentina. Expert knowledge is required to differentiate these species from Heimia salicifolia. It is logical, therefore, to assume that ail three species may have been used interchangeably in folk medicine. Their alkaloidal composition has been studied using semiquantitative TLC methods and, while the differences appear to be more quantitative than qualitative, the three species are chemically distinct.

Other Uses:
The plant can be rubbed on the body to repel flies and other insects

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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