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Useful Tropical Plants

Espeletia tunjana

Cuatrec.

Asteraceae

+ Synonyms

Common Name: Frailejón de Tunja

No Image.

General Information

Espeletia tunjana is an evergreen perennial plant with a short stem up to 30cm tall topped by a rosette of leaves. It produces several, erect, branched flowering stems that can be 100cm or more tall.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine, resin and source of materials
Most of the population of.Espeletia tunjana is found in small isolated subpopulations, with little or no exchange of individuals among themselves, so the population is considered to be severely fragmented. In addition, there is a continuous decrease in the quality and extent of the habitat, due to the expansion of the agricultural activity. The plant is classified as 'Endangered' 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

Habitat

This species occurs in ecosystems of páramo, subparamo and paramized areas of high Andean forest, in a dry to humid climate, occasionally in sandy soils and in grasslands[
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.
].

Properties

Conservation StatusEndangered
Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Perennial
Height0.50 m
PollinatorsBeetles, Bumblebees
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

Espeletia tunjana 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

A decoction of the leaf is used in the treatment of asthma and pulmonary affectations[
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.
,
1966
Title
Quimica de Especies del Genero Espeletia. Espeletia killipii - Espeletia tunjana
Publication
Revista Colombiana de Quimica, Bogata (Colombia) Vol 23, No. 3 pp 29-35, December 1994
Author
Torrenegra R.D. et al
Publisher
 
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
 
]
A resin obtained from the plant is used in the treatment of rheumatism and earache[
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.
,
1966
Title
Quimica de Especies del Genero Espeletia. Espeletia killipii - Espeletia tunjana
Publication
Revista Colombiana de Quimica, Bogata (Colombia) Vol 23, No. 3 pp 29-35, December 1994
Author
Torrenegra R.D. et al
Publisher
 
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
 
].

Phytochemical studies report the presence of diterpenes, flavonoids, terpenes and sesquiterpenlactones[
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.
].
Various compounds with medicinal activity have been reported from the aerial parts of the plant, including diterpene type compounds; the terpenes friedelin, sitosterol and stigmasterol; and two melampolide type sesquiterpene-lactones longipilin acétate and polymatin B[
1966
Title
Quimica de Especies del Genero Espeletia. Espeletia killipii - Espeletia tunjana
Publication
Revista Colombiana de Quimica, Bogata (Colombia) Vol 23, No. 3 pp 29-35, December 1994
Author
Torrenegra R.D. et al
Publisher
 
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
 
].
The flavonoids quercetin and 3-methoxy quercetin were identified in an ethanolic extract of the plant[
1966
Title
Quimica de Especies del Genero Espeletia. Espeletia killipii - Espeletia tunjana
Publication
Revista Colombiana de Quimica, Bogata (Colombia) Vol 23, No. 3 pp 29-35, December 1994
Author
Torrenegra R.D. et al
Publisher
 
Year
1994
ISBN
 
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

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+tunjana>

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