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Useful Tropical Plants

Capraria biflora

L.

Plantaginaceae

+ Synonyms

Capraria hirsuta Kunth

Capraria lanceolata Vahl

Capraria mexicana Griseb.

Capraria semiserrata Willd.

Common Name: Goatweed

Capraria biflora
Flowering stem
Photograph by: Scott Zona
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

General Information

Goatweed is an evergreen perennial plant producing multiple stems up to 1.5 metres tall from a well-developed, long-lived taproot. Individual stems are usually much branched and live 2 - 3 years or more, becoming somewhat woody with age[
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
,
369
Title
Flora of Costa Rica
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C.
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
Field Museum of Natural History; Chicago
Year
1938
ISBN
 
Description
Rather dated, but an excellent treatment of the area. Available for download from the internet.
,
692
Title
Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions
Publication
 
Author
Francis J.K. (Editor)
Website
http://www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/wildland_shrubs.htm
Publisher
USDA; Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestr
Year
2000
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent series of papers, in PDf format, from various authors giving quite detailed information on a range of shrubs growing in the United States and its Territories. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
A popular tea and medicinal herb in parts of its range, where it is usually gathered from the wild. The plant is cultivated for medicinal use in Cuba[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].

Known Hazards

The plant is used to make a tonic tea and also for medicinal purposes. However, caution needs to be exercised since it can be a dangerous depressant in large quantities, with overindulgence sometimes leading to in stupor, disorientation, and paralysis[
369
Title
Flora of Costa Rica
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C.
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
Field Museum of Natural History; Chicago
Year
1938
ISBN
 
Description
Rather dated, but an excellent treatment of the area. Available for download from the internet.
,
692
Title
Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions
Publication
 
Author
Francis J.K. (Editor)
Website
http://www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/wildland_shrubs.htm
Publisher
USDA; Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestr
Year
2000
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent series of papers, in PDf format, from various authors giving quite detailed information on a range of shrubs growing in the United States and its Territories. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Botanical References

331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
,
369
Title
Flora of Costa Rica
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C.
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
Field Museum of Natural History; Chicago
Year
1938
ISBN
 
Description
Rather dated, but an excellent treatment of the area. Available for download from the internet.

Range

S. America - Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas; C. America - Panama to Mexico; through the Caribbean to Florida.

Habitat

Moist thickets and swamps, salt flats or in mangrove, abundant in once cleared lands[
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
]. Open sunny sites in lowland situations at elevations from sea level to 500 metres, occasionally to 1,000 metres in Costa Rica[
369
Title
Flora of Costa Rica
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C.
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
Field Museum of Natural History; Chicago
Year
1938
ISBN
 
Description
Rather dated, but an excellent treatment of the area. Available for download from the internet.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *
HabitPerennial
Height1.00 m
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of lowland areas in the tropics and subtropics, where it can be found at elevations up to 1,000 metres[
692
Title
Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions
Publication
 
Author
Francis J.K. (Editor)
Website
http://www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/wildland_shrubs.htm
Publisher
USDA; Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestr
Year
2000
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent series of papers, in PDf format, from various authors giving quite detailed information on a range of shrubs growing in the United States and its Territories. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. In Puerto Rico, it occurs in areas that receive from 750 - 1,700mm of precipitation a year[
692
Title
Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions
Publication
 
Author
Francis J.K. (Editor)
Website
http://www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/wildland_shrubs.htm
Publisher
USDA; Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestr
Year
2000
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent series of papers, in PDf format, from various authors giving quite detailed information on a range of shrubs growing in the United States and its Territories. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
Requires a sunny position[
692
Title
Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions
Publication
 
Author
Francis J.K. (Editor)
Website
http://www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/wildland_shrubs.htm
Publisher
USDA; Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestr
Year
2000
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent series of papers, in PDf format, from various authors giving quite detailed information on a range of shrubs growing in the United States and its Territories. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. The plant grows on soils derived from both sedimentary and igneous rocks in a wide range of soil textures and fertility but requires well-drained conditions[
692
Title
Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions
Publication
 
Author
Francis J.K. (Editor)
Website
http://www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/wildland_shrubs.htm
Publisher
USDA; Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestr
Year
2000
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent series of papers, in PDf format, from various authors giving quite detailed information on a range of shrubs growing in the United States and its Territories. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
The plant flowers and produces seed all year round[
692
Title
Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions
Publication
 
Author
Francis J.K. (Editor)
Website
http://www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/wildland_shrubs.htm
Publisher
USDA; Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestr
Year
2000
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent series of papers, in PDf format, from various authors giving quite detailed information on a range of shrubs growing in the United States and its Territories. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
Plants readily sprout from the lower stem or root when they have been cut or burned[
692
Title
Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions
Publication
 
Author
Francis J.K. (Editor)
Website
http://www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/wildland_shrubs.htm
Publisher
USDA; Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestr
Year
2000
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent series of papers, in PDf format, from various authors giving quite detailed information on a range of shrubs growing in the United States and its Territories. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Edible Uses

The aerial parts of the plant are used to make a tea[
369
Title
Flora of Costa Rica
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C.
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
Field Museum of Natural History; Chicago
Year
1938
ISBN
 
Description
Rather dated, but an excellent treatment of the area. Available for download from the internet.
]. The flowering stems are used[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. A very agreeable substitute for tea[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. Some caution is advised, however, since it can be a dangerous depressant in large quantities[
369
Title
Flora of Costa Rica
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C.
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
Field Museum of Natural History; Chicago
Year
1938
ISBN
 
Description
Rather dated, but an excellent treatment of the area. Available for download from the internet.
].

Medicinal

The plant is often used in traditional medicine. Research has shown that it contains several medically active compounds, including alkaloids and sesquiterpenes[
692
Title
Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions
Publication
 
Author
Francis J.K. (Editor)
Website
http://www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/wildland_shrubs.htm
Publisher
USDA; Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestr
Year
2000
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent series of papers, in PDf format, from various authors giving quite detailed information on a range of shrubs growing in the United States and its Territories. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. Some caution should be exercised, however, since overindulgence can result in stupor, disorientation, and paralysis[
692
Title
Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions
Publication
 
Author
Francis J.K. (Editor)
Website
http://www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/wildland_shrubs.htm
Publisher
USDA; Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestr
Year
2000
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent series of papers, in PDf format, from various authors giving quite detailed information on a range of shrubs growing in the United States and its Territories. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
The alkaloid biflorine, present in the leaves, has demonstrated antibiotic properties[
692
Title
Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions
Publication
 
Author
Francis J.K. (Editor)
Website
http://www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/wildland_shrubs.htm
Publisher
USDA; Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestr
Year
2000
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent series of papers, in PDf format, from various authors giving quite detailed information on a range of shrubs growing in the United States and its Territories. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]

The plant is antibiotic, cholagogue, digestive, diuretic and tonic. An infusion also has an antispasmodic action, especially if taken after a violent purgative[
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
]. A saline decoction is used as a vermifuge[
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
]. An infusion is used as a general tonic; to aid in recovery after childbirth; and to treat fever, flu, vomiting, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids, rheumatism, urinary problems, swellings etc[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
,
692
Title
Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions
Publication
 
Author
Francis J.K. (Editor)
Website
http://www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/wildland_shrubs.htm
Publisher
USDA; Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestr
Year
2000
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent series of papers, in PDf format, from various authors giving quite detailed information on a range of shrubs growing in the United States and its Territories. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
A tea prepared from the leaves is used externally as an eyewash and to soothe skin itch[
692
Title
Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions
Publication
 
Author
Francis J.K. (Editor)
Website
http://www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/wildland_shrubs.htm
Publisher
USDA; Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestr
Year
2000
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent series of papers, in PDf format, from various authors giving quite detailed information on a range of shrubs growing in the United States and its Territories. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. The young plant is pulverised and mixed with soft grease and sugar in a poultice which is applied to hard boils to bring them to a point[
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
].

Agroforestry Uses:

Goatweed helps revegetate disturbed areas, protects the soil, and furnishes cover for wildlife[
692
Title
Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions
Publication
 
Author
Francis J.K. (Editor)
Website
http://www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/wildland_shrubs.htm
Publisher
USDA; Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestr
Year
2000
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent series of papers, in PDf format, from various authors giving quite detailed information on a range of shrubs growing in the United States and its Territories. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].. It is a nectar source for butterflies and is recommended in natural landscaping[
692
Title
Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions
Publication
 
Author
Francis J.K. (Editor)
Website
http://www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/wildland_shrubs.htm
Publisher
USDA; Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestr
Year
2000
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent series of papers, in PDf format, from various authors giving quite detailed information on a range of shrubs growing in the United States and its Territories. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
Once established, goatweed competes relatively well with grass, weeds, and low brush[
692
Title
Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions
Publication
 
Author
Francis J.K. (Editor)
Website
http://www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/wildland_shrubs.htm
Publisher
USDA; Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestr
Year
2000
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent series of papers, in PDf format, from various authors giving quite detailed information on a range of shrubs growing in the United States and its Territories. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Other Uses

A number of compounds in the aerial parts of the plant, comprising sesquiterpenoids and caprariolides A and B, have demonstrated strong insecticidal activity against adult sweet potato weevils, Cylas formicarius elegantulus[
692
Title
Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions
Publication
 
Author
Francis J.K. (Editor)
Website
http://www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/wildland_shrubs.htm
Publisher
USDA; Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestr
Year
2000
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent series of papers, in PDf format, from various authors giving quite detailed information on a range of shrubs growing in the United States and its Territories. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Propagation

Seed - best surface sown because it is so small. Press the seed gently into the soil and make sure it does not dry out. In one germination test, 21% of the seed germinated within 10 - 35 days[
692
Title
Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions
Publication
 
Author
Francis J.K. (Editor)
Website
http://www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/wildland_shrubs.htm
Publisher
USDA; Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestr
Year
2000
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent series of papers, in PDf format, from various authors giving quite detailed information on a range of shrubs growing in the United States and its Territories. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

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