Herbs & Plants

Asclepias curassavica

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Botanical Name; Asclepias curassavica
Family: Apocynaceae
Genus: Asclepias
Species: A. curassavica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales

Common Names: Tropical milkweed, Cancerillo

Other Common Names; Bloodflower or Blood flower, Cotton bush, Hierba de la cucaracha, Mexican butterfly weed, redhead, Scarlet milkweed, and Wild ipecacuanha

Habitat: Asclepias curassavica is native to the American tropics.

Asclepias curassavica is described by NatureServe as a “widespread species, ranging from southern North America through Central America and into South America.”

It is an introduced species in the US states of California, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas, as well as the US unincorporated territories of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.

It has been introduced and naturalized in the Chinese provinces of Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Qinghai, Sichuan, Xizang, Yunnan, and Zhejiang, as well as in Taiwan.

It is considered an exotic plant, but not a weed, at the Meteor Downs South Project near Rolleston, Queensland, Australia.
Asclepias curassavica is an evergreen perennial subshrub that grow up to 1 m (3.3 ft) tall and have pale gray stems. The leaves are arranged oppositely on the stems and are lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate shaped ending in acuminate or acute tips. Like other members of the genus, the sap is milky. The flowers are in cymes with 10-20 flowers each. They have purple or red corollas and corona lobes that are yellow or orange. Flowering occurs nearly year round. Its blossoms are are red and orange, less than an inch across, and appear in clusters at the top of 2 to 4 ft. stalks. The 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in) long, fusiform shaped fruits are called follicles. The follicles contain tan to brown seeds that are ovate in shape and 6–7 mm (0.24–0.28 in) long. The flat seeds have silky hairs that allow the seeds to float on air currents when the pod-like follicles dehisce (split open…..…CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Cultivation & Propagation: : Asclepias curassavica require a sunny spot in moist, fertile soil. Blood-flower is not as drought tolerant as other species of milkweeds. Keep the plants uniformly moist, but not saturated. Pinch the tops of the plants to induce a bushy habit and provide more flowering branches. Once a week fertilize with a balanced fertilizer such as 20-20-20 diluted to half the strength recommended on the label.

Asclepias curassavica produces a robust plant when started from seed. It can be propagated from cuttings of green stem cut underwater and treated with rooting hormone. The stems are then placed in vermiculite or in potting soil kept continuously moist.

Constituents: Asclepias curassavica contains several cardiac glycosides which include asclepin, calotropin, uzarin and their free genins, calactin, coroglucigenin and uzarigenin. It also contains oleanolic acid, ß- sitosterol, and glycosides of asclepin.

Medicinal Uses:
The plant is used medicinally in the tropics for the anodyne properties of its roots. It has also been used in scrofula with great success. Used as a remedy for cancers, warts and similar growths. Extract of the root is used in  traditional medicine as an emetic and laxative. Other uses employed are against warts, fever, vomiting and as an expectorant. Root extracts of cancerillo are widely used in South America an emetic (induces vomiting) and laxative. The leaves and flowers of the plant are considered toxic and reports of smaller grazing animals dying from consumption of the leaves have been reported. In the Suriname rainforest, an extract of the root is used an emetic, expectorant, and laxative and employed for warts, fever, and to induce vomiting. A decoction of the entire plant is used as an abortifacient. The roots are commonly known as “pleurisy root” and used as an expectorant for pneumonia and pleurisy and other lung problems. In Jamaica, a poultice of the root is used to treat ringworm and to stop bleeding. The Caribs considered the root to be good medicine to reduce fevers, and in Africa it has been used for intestinal troubles with children.

In Western Canada and the USA, the milky sap of the stems have been used to treat warts and skin parasites, and the roots are prepared in decoctions for constipation, venereal disease, kidney stones, asthma, and cancer. In the 1880’s, Native Americans used the plant as a contraceptive and snakebite remedy. In Ayurvedic herbal medicine systems the plant is considered diaphoretic, anthelmintic, purgative, and emetic; it is employed in India for stomach tumors, piles, gonorrhea, intestinal parasites, fever, and warts.

Other Uses: Asclepias curassavica is excellent in butterfly gardens or as a cut flower….CLICK & SEE

Known Hazards: However, when the stems or leaves are broken, a poisonous milky sap exudes which can cause eye injury.

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.