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Useful Tropical Plants

Libanothamnus neriifolius

(Bonpl. ex Humb.) Ernst

Asteraceae


Various publications since the year 2000 have offered different treatments of this genus and the subtribe Espeletiinae to which it belongs. The subtribe has been variousy interpreted as comprising anything from 3 - 8 distinct genera and 90 - 154 species. We are following the proposed treatment by Mauricio Diazgranados [
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
 
], although some other modern treatments still place this species in the genus Espeletia[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

+ Synonyms

Baillieria neriifolia (Bonpl. ex Humb.) Kunth

Clibadium neriifolium (Bonpl. ex Humb.) DC.

Espeletia neriifolia (Bonpl. ex Humb.) Sch.Bip. ex Wedd.

Trixis neriifolia Bonpl. ex Humb.

Common Name: Frailejón de Árbol

No Image.

General Information

Libanothamnus neriifolius is an evergreen, branching shrub with stout stems; it can grow around 2 - 4 metres tall. The leaves are aggregated towards the end of the branches, where they form dense whorls[
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.
].
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of an aromatic resin.

Known Hazards

None known

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

Northern S. America - Venezuela, Colombia.

Habitat

Open, windswept regions, usually above the tree line, in humus-rich moist soils; at elevations from 1,500 - 3,300 metres[
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
 
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Shrub
Height4.00 m
Growth RateSlow
PollinatorsBeetles, Bumblebees
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

Libanothamnus neriifolius is a plant of higher elevations in the tropical regions of the Andes, mainly at elevations between 1,500 - 3,300 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 essential oil from the leaves has been shown to have antibacterial and antifungal activity, inhibiting the development of Staphylococcus aureus, Candica albicans and Candida krusei[
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
 
],
The essential oil has been shown to contain several components, including sabinene (25.6%), limonene (18.6%) and alpha thujene (18.1%)[
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
 
]
Another analysis of the essential oil of the leaves identified 20 compounds, with 87.28% of monoterpenic hydrocarbons. The main components were beta-phelandrene (29.04%), alpha-phelandrene (19.86%) , alpha-pinene (13.57%) and alpha-thujene (12.35%)[
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
 
].
In addition, the genus Libanothamnus has been shown to contain kauren-type diterpenes that are interesting both chemically and pharmacologically[
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
 
].

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 aid breathing at higher elevations; to treat respiratory conditions (including altitude sickness, 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

A resin is obtained from the plant[
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.
]. Called 'Incienso de los Criollos', it is used as an incense in churches[
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.
].
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=Libanothamnus+neriifolius>

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