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Useful Tropical Plants

Plumbago zeylanica

L.

Plumbaginaceae

+ Synonyms

Common Name: Leadwort

Plumbago zeylanica
Close-up of the flower
Photograph by: bob in swamp
Creative Commons License
Plumbago zeylanica Plumbago zeylanica Plumbago zeylanica Plumbago zeylanica

General Information

Leadwort is an evergreen perennial plant sometimes with more persistent, semi-woody stems. The stems, which are 1 - 2 metres long, have a somewhat lax habit and sometimes adopt a more climbing habit.
Although toxic, the plant is commonly used medicinally - especially in India and Africa where it is a very popular treatment for skin problems[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. It is also often grown as an ornamental in gardens, where it is valued for its long, white inflorescences[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Known Hazards

The plant is toxic when taken internally[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
].

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

E. Asia - India, Malaysia. Widely naturalised in many areas of the Tropics, especially Africa and southeast Asia.

Habitat

Almost exclusively found in rather open, human-created habitats such as savannah, forest edges and fallow fields, at elevations up to 1,000 metres[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Disturbed, arid habitats such as sand dunes, dry forest and shrubland in Hawaii[
417
Title
Hawaiian Ethnobotany Online Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www2.bishopmuseum.org/ethnobotanydb/index.asp
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Brief details on over 100 species of Hawaiian plants.
].

Properties

Medicinal Rating *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Perennial
Height0.00 m
PollinatorsInsects
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details


Prefers a position in full sun or partial shade[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Prefers a slightly acidic soil[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Plants can flower throughout the year[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal

Leadwort is a poisonous plant that is used externally and, in small quantities, internally, to treat a range of disorders. It is very popular, especially in parts of Africa and Asia, as a treatment for a range of skin problems and intestinal worms[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. The whole plant, but especially the root, is abortifacient, acrid, diaphoretic, emmenagogue and rubefacient[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
,
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. When applied to the skin, a paste of the plant causes irritation, increasing the blood flow and raising blisters - the increased blood flow speeds the clearing of toxins from the affected area[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
]. High doses, taken internally, are dangerous and may cause death[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The main active compound in the plant is plumbagin, which has been shown to possess several pharmacological activities including antimicrobial, antiplasmodial, anticancer and antifertility actions. It is also a powerful irritant; in small doses it stimulate sweating; it stimulates the central nervous system; large doses may cause death from respiratory failure and paralysis[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
,
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Plumbagin has showed anti-implantation and abortifacient activities, as well as testicular lesions and testis-weight reduction[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
In low concentrations, plumbagin has an antimyotic activity comparable to that of colchicine. In larger doses, it also has nucleotoxic and cytotoxic effects[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Plumbagin has shown antibacterial activity against both gram-positive (e.g. Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Pneumococcus spp.) and gram-negative (e.g. Salmonella, Neisseria) bacteria, whereas it is also active against certain yeasts and fungi (Candida, Trichophyton, Epidermophyton and Microsporum spp.) and protozoa (Leishmania). It has been found to prevent Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus developing resistance to antibiotics[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Chewing the leaves, or drinking a decoction of them, is used as an emmenagogue, but may well act as an abortifacient in the early stages of pregnancy[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The crushed leaves are applied as a poultice to treat a range of skin problems, especially leprosy, scabies, ringworm, dermatitis, acne, sores, ulcers of the leg, haemorrhoids and hookworm; as well as rheumatism and headache (they should not be placed behind the ears for more than a few minutes)[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
,
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The leaves and stems are pounded and ground with Ipomoea alba and a type of grass, then added to the sap from stems of the papaya fruit and used as a treatment against sores[
417
Title
Hawaiian Ethnobotany Online Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www2.bishopmuseum.org/ethnobotanydb/index.asp
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Brief details on over 100 species of Hawaiian plants.
].

The roots are used internally as an abortifacient in the early stages of pregnancy[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. A decoction is reported to be taken during the first three days after childbirth, probably for its tonic properties[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
A decoction of the powdered roots is used externally as a remedy for a range of skin complaints, especially leprosy, scabies, ringworm, dermatitis, acne, sores, ulcers of the leg, haemorrhoids and hookworm[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. The powdered roots are used as a blistering agent on the skin[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
].
The tap roots, bark, and leaves, combined with salt and papaya fruit (Carica papaya) are used as a treatment for swellings[
417
Title
Hawaiian Ethnobotany Online Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www2.bishopmuseum.org/ethnobotanydb/index.asp
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Brief details on over 100 species of Hawaiian plants.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

Sometimes planted in living fences[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Other Uses

Juice from the roots is used as a tattoo pigment that can range from navy blue to black[
417
Title
Hawaiian Ethnobotany Online Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www2.bishopmuseum.org/ethnobotanydb/index.asp
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Brief details on over 100 species of Hawaiian plants.
]. A paste of the powdered root or the root sap is used for tattooing - the paste or sap causes blisters and the new skin has a darker colour[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Plumbagin, a medically active compound in the plant, has strong antifeedant and moulting inhibiting effects on insects and has nematicidal and acaricidal activities[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Propagation

Seed - easily propagated, the seeds germinate in 3 - 4 weeks at 21°c[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
417
Title
Hawaiian Ethnobotany Online Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www2.bishopmuseum.org/ethnobotanydb/index.asp
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Brief details on over 100 species of Hawaiian plants.
]. Germination is almost 100% if both ends of the seed are cut before sowing[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. After 3 months storage, germination decreased to 40%[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Sowing the seeds in a nursery and transplanting into the field at a density of 60 × 60 cm has given good results[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Stem cuttings. Roots develop in 1 month - wait for good stem growth before potting them up[
417
Title
Hawaiian Ethnobotany Online Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www2.bishopmuseum.org/ethnobotanydb/index.asp
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Brief details on over 100 species of Hawaiian plants.
].
Root cuttings[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

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