• Costa Rica Coffee Guide

Tradescantia at a Glance

October 8, 2004

Hoja de milagroTradescantiazebrineCOMMELINACEAEGeo-distribution:A native plantfound in the warmerregions of the tropicalAmericas, thetradescantia hasbecome a popularornamental aroundthe world.Botanical description: A creeping,herbaceous perennial plant with alternate,variegated leaves of purple and silvertones. The flowers are small and nestledin leaf bracts of pastel purple.Medicinal Uses: This plant has been usedas an ornamental, but few people know ofits medicinal properties. The fresh juiceis used to combat hemorrhages of cutsand wounds. It has also been used as ananalgesic to calm the palm of bruises andfacial neuralgia. It is used to increase theproduction of milk in nursing mothersand has been reported to be useful in thetreatment of colitis and diabetes.Preparation: The leaves are maceratedto extract the juice, which can be appliedto bleeding cuts or painful areas as apoultice. The leaves are also used in anaqueous solution. A handful of leaves arediced and soaked in pure water overnightor a handful of leaves are steeped in aliter of hot water. The solution or tea canbe taken throughout the day.Notes: Tradescantia is one of the easiestplants to grow in the home garden. Thisnotably pest-free plant can be used as anoutdoor ground cover for shady areas oras a hanging porch plant. Propagation isdone by simple stem cuttings, which areplanted in pots or directly in the soil.Although this plant grows on a widerange of soil types, soils fortified withorganic compost increase growth andvitality of the plants. They should bewatered frequently until well established,and later, watered infrequently.Tradescantia can be fertilized occasionallywith soluble fertilizers to keep themgrowing well. Remember to avoid locatingthese plants in sunny areas, which cancause wilting and poor growth.The trailing ends of the plants can bepruned for medicinal uses.For more information on tropical medicinalplants and home gardens, be sure tosee the Web site: www.thenewdawncenter.org or e-mailthenewdawncenter@yahoo.com.

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