Island Musk (Fijian: Uci)

Island Musk (Fijian: Uci)

Euodia hortensis (Rutaceae)

Characteristics

Shrub or small tree, up to 4 m. Leaves aromatic (essential oils). It flowers and produces fruits all year round.

Distribution

Native to Australasia and Southwest Pacific Islands.

Natural Medical Properties

The leaves are anti-inflammatory, emmenagogue, febrifuge and laxative. They are chewed as a remedy for toothache or stomach pains. An infusion is used to reduce fever.

The crushed leaves are used to prepare a remedial bath.

Liquid from the leaves is used as a remedy for swollen testicles.

The leaves are crushed, mixed with oil and applied to sore gums.

The leaves are also used to cure headache and earache and are heated then rubbed onto bruises.

The bark is sometimes part of an internal remedy that is used to relieve thrush-like conditions, to retard menstruation, and to relieve pain in childbirth.

Fluid from the bark is used to treat a disease whose symptoms are yellow eyes and yellow urine.

The bark may be chewed with betel nuts and rubbed onto aching body parts.
Liquid from the stem is used in treating children with convulsions.
The plant contains essential oils (caryophyllene, alpha-copaene, arcucumene), menthofuran, evodone, hortensol, berberine, furoquinoline and acridone alkaloids.

Did you know?

Island musk is harvested for local use as medicine and perfume. It is commonly planted in home gardens and around villages as an ornamental or ceremonial plant and boundary marker; it is also often planted in cemeteries or burial grounds.

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species

Red Bean (Fijian: Tarawau)

Red Bean (Fijian: Tarawau)

Dysoxylum cf. mollissimum (Meliaceae)

Characteristics

Large tree, up to 35 m. Usually buttressed. White flowers. Fruit is a brown capsule, bird attracting.

The tree produces a well-regarded mahogany timber, suited to cabinet work, carving and boat building.

Distribution

It occurs in tropical, sub-tropical and littoral rainforests in Eastern Australia as well as on the Pacific Islands.

Natural Medical Properties

The fruits are used in the treatment of wounds

Did you know?

Related (same family) to Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla, #38). Freshly cut bark has an onion type scent.

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species

Red Ginger

Red Ginger

Alpinia purpurata (Zingiberaceae)

Characteristics

Pseudostems, usually about 3 m tall, composed of overlapping leaf-sheaths. Thick rhizoms. Alpinia is the largest genus in the ginger family (Zingiberaceae) with about 230 species.

Red Ginger can be grown in regions like South Florida since, in general, those regions do not fall below freezing temperatures.

Distribution

Native to Malaysia. Today, widespread as ornamental plant, e.g. in Hawaii, Fiji, Panama, Jamaica, Suriname and Belize.

Natural Medical Properties

The fruit is used to treat sores.
A decoction of the leaves is used in the treatment of stomach complaints

Did you know?

Red ginger is the national flower of Samoa, locally called “teuila”.

The red part of the plant is not the true flower but brightly colored bracts (leaves). The true flower is a small white flower on top.

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species

Coconut palm (Fijian: Niadamu)

Coconut palm (Fijian: Niadamu)

Cocos nucifera (Arecaceae)

Characteristics

Stems up to 20 m tall, erected or leaning, smooth. Trunk usually somewhat swollen at the base (80 cm), upper diameter about 40 cm. Leaves up to 5 m long. Immature fruits green, yellow or bronzy red. Mature fruits brown.

Distribution

Attributed to Asiatic tropics but now spontaneous and wild around the world and constituting the palm scenery on the littorals of many lands; extensively planted for the yield of edible fruits.

Natural Medical Properties

The stem is scraped and squeezed to produce a liquid given for weakness after childbirth. The juice of the midrib at the lower base of the leaf is strained and given to remedy maternal postpartum illness. Coconut milk produced by grating and squeezing the flesh is used to treat fish poisoning.

Did you know?

Botanically, the fruit of the coconut palm is a drupe (stone fruit), not a nut. The hard, hairy, brown coconut we can buy in the supermarket is botanically analog to the stone of a cherry.

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species

Beach Cordia (Fijian: Nawanawa)

Beach Cordia (Fijian: Nawanawa)

Cordia subcordata (Boraginaceae)

Characteristics

Small tree, up to 10 m. Leaves ovate, 8-20 cm long. Flowers orange, form tubes. Blooming occurs throughout the year, but most flowers are produced in the spring. Fruits buoyant for long distance transport by ocean currents.

Distribution

Beach Cordia occurs in Eastern Africa, Southeast Asia, Northern Australia and the Pacific Islands. Grows in coastal areas.

Natural Medical Properties

No known.

Did you know?

The seeds are edible and have been eaten during famine. Related (same family) to “forget-me-not” (Myosotis sp.) and “Octopus bush” (Heliotropium foertherianum; #91)

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species

Musk fern

Musk fern

Microsorum scolopendria (Polypodiaceae)

Characteristics

Like most ferns, they grow from rhizomes, rather than roots. It forms so called “sori” on the underside of the leaf (brown spots). There, it produces the spores, important for propagation.

Distribution

Native to the Western Pacific rim from Australia to New Caledonia to Fiji and throughout the South Pacific to French Polynesia.

Natural Medical Properties

No known.

Did you know?

The musk fern was introduced in Hawaii in the late 1910s and has subsequently naturalized rapidly.

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species

Pacific Rosewood / Portia Tree

Pacific Rosewood / Portia Tree

Thespesia populnea (Malvaceae)

Characteristics

Small tree or shrub, up to 10 m tall. Able to grow in various soil types of coastal environments, including soils derived from sand, limestone and basalt. Heartwood dark reddish brown.

Distribution

Native to the “Old World” tropics. Today pantropical, found on coasts around the world. Introduced to Pacific Islands from Southeast Asia in prehistoric times by Austronesians (canoe plant).

Natural Medical Properties

Portia tree is often used in traditional medicine, where the bark, root, leaves, flowers and fruits are all used to treat
a range of ailments. There has been some research into its properties, which tends to support these traditional uses.
The heartwood contains several sesquiterpenoid quinones, including mansonone D and H, thespone and thespesone, which are known to induce contact dermatitis, to inhibit tumour formation and to have antifungal properties.
The heartwood and other plant parts contain gossypol.The fruits and leaves contain compounds with antibacterial activity, whereas methanolic extracts of the flower
buds have shown antifungal activity.

Ethanol extracts of the flower have shown antihepatotoxic activity.

Aqueous extracts of the fruit have shown wound-healing activity in rats after topical or oral administration.

The seed oil has anti-amoebic activity.

The heartwood is carminative. It is useful in treating pleurisy, cholera, colic and high fevers.

The fruit juice is used to treat herpes.

The crushed fruit is used in a treatment for urinary tract problems and abdominal swellings.

The cooked fruit, crushed in coconut oil, provides a salve, which, if applied to the hair, will kill lice.

An extract of the fruit is applied to swollen testicles.

A leaf tea is taken as a treatment for rheumatism and urinary retention.

A decoction of the leaves is used in treating coughs, influenza, headache and relapses in illnesses.

The leaf sap, and decoctions of most parts of the plant, are used externally to treat various skin diseases.

Juices from the pounded fruits, mixed with pounded leaves are used in a poultice to treat headaches and itches.

A decoction of the bark and fruit is mixed with oil and used to treat scabies.
A decoction of the astringent bark is used to treat dysentery and haemorrhoids, and a maceration of it is drunk for colds.

A cold infusion of the bark is used in treating dysentery, diabetes, gonorrhoea, yellow urine, and thrush.

Indigestion, pelvic infection, dysmenorrhoea, infertility, secondary amenorrhoea, appetite loss, ulcers and worms are also treated with the bark.

The inner bark is used to treat constipation and typhoid.

The stem is employed in treating breast cancer.

Other extracts of the plant have significant antimalarial activity.

Leaf and bark decoctions are taken as a remedy for high blood pressure.

Seeds are purgative.

Did you know?

The Portia trees were regarded as sacred in Polynesian culture and were commonly planted in “marae” sites (religious places) along with other trees like Ficus (#26 and #81) or Calophyllum inophyllum (#34).

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species

Ylang-Ylang (Fijian: Mokosoi)

Ylang-Ylang (Fijian: Mokosoi)

Cananga odorata (Annonaceae)

Characteristics

Fast-growing tree (can grow more than 5 m per year). Evergreen leaves, smooth and glossy. Flower with six narrow, greenish-yellow petals, rather like a sea star in appearance. Flowers with highly fragrant essential oil.

Distribution

Native from India to Southeast Asia up to Australia. Commonly grown in Madagascar, Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia and the Comoros Islands.

Natural Medical Properties

The flowers, and the essential oil obtained from them, are antipruritic, antifungal, antiseptic and sedative, relieving tension, lowering blood pressure and reducing fever.

They are also said to be aphrodisiac.

The dried flowers are used in the treatment of malaria and the fresh flowers are made into a paste for treating asthma.

Applied externally, they are used to treat skin irritations, conjunctivitis, boils and gout.

They are added to bath water to treat impotence and frigidity.

The essential oil is important in aromatherapy, where it is used in the treatment of tachycardia, rapid breathing, hypertension, gastrointestinal infections and psycho-sexual complaints.
The flowers are harvested of a night time and dried for infusions or distilled for their essential oil.
The leaves are used in a treatment for diarrhoea in infants.

The leaves are also used in a remedy for treating boils.

They are rubbed on the skin to treat itch.
The bark is applied against scurf.

An infusion of the bark is used for treating stomach ailments such as pains, indigestion and colic.

Fluid from the pressed bark is used in treating toothaches and migraine headaches.
The seed has been used externally to cure intermittent fever.

Did you know?

The Ylang-Ylang tree is valued for the perfume extracted from its flowers. It is an essential oil and used in perfumery for oriental- or floral-themed perfumes (such as Chanel No. 5). The oil is also used in aromatherapy.

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species

Mahogany

Mahogany

Swietenia cf. macrophylla (Meliaceae)

Characteristics

Tree with strong wood. Leaves large (up to 45 cm) with even numbered leaflets. Fruits are called “sky fruits” because of its upwards growth towards the sky, up to 40 cm long, in a capsule. Each fruit capsule could contain 71 winged seeds (7-12 cm).

Distribution

Native to South America and Mexico, but naturalized in the Philippines, Singapore and Hawaii. Futher, it is cultivated in plantations elsewhere.

Natural Medical Properties

No known.

Did you know?

Unlike mahogany sourced from its native locations in South America and Mexico, plantation mahogany grown in Asia is not restricted in trade.

Mahogany wood is strong and is used for furniture, musical instruments, ships, doors, coffins and decors.

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species

Leba (Fijian: Lembalemba, Mamba)

Leba (Fijian: Lembalemba, Mamba)

Syzygium cf. neurocalyx (Myrtaceae)

Characteristics

Small tree, 3-6 m high. Flowers white, in clusters of 2-6, flower tube purplish. Leaves up to 15 cm long. Fruit 6 cm in diameter, green.

Distribution

Native to southwest Pacific.

Natural Medical Properties

No known.

Did you know?

Closely related (same genus) to Malay rose apple (Syzygium malaccense, # 10) and clove (Syzygium aromaticum)

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species