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Useful Tropical Plants

Espeletia pycnophylla

Cuatrec.

Asteraceae

+ Synonyms

Espeletia cochensis Cuatrec.

Common Name: Frailejón

No Image.

General Information

Espeletia pycnophylla is an evergreen, perennial plant with an unbranched, erect stem up to 4 metres tall. The stem is topped by a large rosette of leaves, these leaves remaining attached to the stem when they die.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of resin and other materials.
Although it has a restricted distribution, Espeletia pycnophylla has large well-conserved subpopulations, including some in protected areas, and there are no significant threats that are affecting its population. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References


Range

Northwest S. America - Colombia, Ecuador

Habitat

Found in various habitats in the alpine and subalpine zone; at elevations from 2,000 - 4,250 metres.

Properties

Conservation StatusLeast Concern
Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Tree
Height3.00 m
Growth RateSlow
PollinatorsBeetles, Bumblebees
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

Espeletia pycnophylla is a plant of higher elevations in the tropical regions of the Andes, mainly at elevations between metres. The plants are usually found above the tree line in open, windswept regions known as Páramos, where the climate is wet and cool with a relative humidity that can be around 110%. The high elevation means there are high levels of UV radiation and a daily seasonality with night-time temperatures able to fall below zero at any time of the year.
The plant requires an open position in a humus-rich soil that does not dry out and a good supply of clean water. The various species do not generally grow well outside of their native habitat or other similar habitats, though some have occasionally been cultivated successfully at lower elevations or in greenhouses in the temperate zone.

Edible Uses

We have no specific information for this species, but the leaves of most (if not all) members of this genus can be used to make a bitter but tasty, refreshing tea that also has medicinal benefits[
1965
Title
Introducing Frailejones: The Andes’ Perfect Survival Plant
Publication
American Gun Association
Author
Anon
Website
https://blog.gunassociation.org/frailejones-andes-survival-plant/
Publisher
American Gun Association
Year
2021
ISBN
 
Description
An article about the uses of the genus Espeletia and other related genera. Accessed 08/05/2021
]. One medium-sized leaf is washed then boiled vigorously for at least 10 minutes, the liquid is then drunk whilst hot. Cinnamon is also traditionally added for a bit of flavour[
1965
Title
Introducing Frailejones: The Andes’ Perfect Survival Plant
Publication
American Gun Association
Author
Anon
Website
https://blog.gunassociation.org/frailejones-andes-survival-plant/
Publisher
American Gun Association
Year
2021
ISBN
 
Description
An article about the uses of the genus Espeletia and other related genera. Accessed 08/05/2021
].

Medicinal

The crushed leaves are used to prevent hair loss[
1783
Title
Enciclopedia de las Plantas Útiles del Ecuador
Publication
 
Author
de la Torre, L., Navarrete H., P. Muriel M., Macía M.J. & Ba
Publisher
Herbario QCA de la Escuela de Ciencias Biológicas de la Pontific
Year
2008
ISBN
978-9978-77-135-8
Description
 
].
The dried leaves are used to control rheumatism, the villi provide shelter to the affected areas[
1783
Title
Enciclopedia de las Plantas Útiles del Ecuador
Publication
 
Author
de la Torre, L., Navarrete H., P. Muriel M., Macía M.J. & Ba
Publisher
Herbario QCA de la Escuela de Ciencias Biológicas de la Pontific
Year
2008
ISBN
978-9978-77-135-8
Description
 
].
The leaves, in infusion, are used to relieve headaches[
1783
Title
Enciclopedia de las Plantas Útiles del Ecuador
Publication
 
Author
de la Torre, L., Navarrete H., P. Muriel M., Macía M.J. & Ba
Publisher
Herbario QCA de la Escuela de Ciencias Biológicas de la Pontific
Year
2008
ISBN
978-9978-77-135-8
Description
 
].

The pubescence is used to treat deafness and earache[
1783
Title
Enciclopedia de las Plantas Útiles del Ecuador
Publication
 
Author
de la Torre, L., Navarrete H., P. Muriel M., Macía M.J. & Ba
Publisher
Herbario QCA de la Escuela de Ciencias Biológicas de la Pontific
Year
2008
ISBN
978-9978-77-135-8
Description
 
].

Resin from the fresh leaves, flower stalks or stem is used to treat rheumatism and hysterical paralysis[
1783
Title
Enciclopedia de las Plantas Útiles del Ecuador
Publication
 
Author
de la Torre, L., Navarrete H., P. Muriel M., Macía M.J. & Ba
Publisher
Herbario QCA de la Escuela de Ciencias Biológicas de la Pontific
Year
2008
ISBN
978-9978-77-135-8
Description
 
].
The resin has the quality of giving heat to the body[
1783
Title
Enciclopedia de las Plantas Útiles del Ecuador
Publication
 
Author
de la Torre, L., Navarrete H., P. Muriel M., Macía M.J. & Ba
Publisher
Herbario QCA de la Escuela de Ciencias Biológicas de la Pontific
Year
2008
ISBN
978-9978-77-135-8
Description
 
].

We have no further specific information for this species, but most (if not all) species in this and several other related genera are used medicinally in the High Andes. In particular, the plant contains essential oils and resin, and an infusion of the leaves is used traditionally to alleviate altitude sickness and aid breathing at higher elevations. It is also used to treat respiratory conditions (including bronchitis, influenza, cough and asthma) and to treat digestive problems[
1963
Title
Caracterización química y actividad antimicrobiana del aceite esencial de las hojas de Libanothamnus neriifolius (As
Publication
Revista peruana de biología 26(1): 095 - 100 (2019)
Author
Aparicio-Zambrano R. et al
Website
http://dx.doi.org/10.15381/rpb.v26i1.15912
Publisher
 
Year
2019
ISBN
1561-0837
Description
 
].

Other Uses

The resin is used to make soaps[
1783
Title
Enciclopedia de las Plantas Útiles del Ecuador
Publication
 
Author
de la Torre, L., Navarrete H., P. Muriel M., Macía M.J. & Ba
Publisher
Herbario QCA de la Escuela de Ciencias Biológicas de la Pontific
Year
2008
ISBN
978-9978-77-135-8
Description
 
].
This product has already been industrialized in Colombia (Ethnic group not specified-Carchi).

Most, if not all, species in this and in several other related genera yield an abundant, aromatic resin. It can be used as an incense, or to extract oil of turpentine, which is used as a solvent for paints and varnishes[
1964
Title
A nomenclator for the frailejones (Espeletiinae Cuatrec., Asteraceae)
Publication
PhytoKeys 16: 1-52 (2012)
Author
Diazgranados M.
Website
http://10.3897/phytokeys.16.3186
Publisher
 
Year
2012
ISBN
 
Description
 
].

The leaves make an excellent camping mattress or pillow. Simply harvest dry leaves, evenly pile them, then lie down to compress them a bit. Stuff them inside a plastic bag to make a decent pillow, or heap them under your tent for a little extra comfort in the night[
1965
Title
Introducing Frailejones: The Andes’ Perfect Survival Plant
Publication
American Gun Association
Author
Anon
Website
https://blog.gunassociation.org/frailejones-andes-survival-plant/
Publisher
American Gun Association
Year
2021
ISBN
 
Description
An article about the uses of the genus Espeletia and other related genera. Accessed 08/05/2021
].

Propagation

Seed -
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2023-02-01. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Espeletia+pycnophylla>

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