Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Headache Bush

Headache Bush (Cayman Islands)
Black Willow (Jamaica & the Bahamas); Jamaica Caper (USA)
Capparis cynophallophora  
(syn. Quadrella cynophallophora)    Caper Family: CAPPARACEAE  
Florida, West Indies and continental tropical America, in rocky thickets and woodlands.

Headache Bush is an attractive native shrub or small tree with a rounded, compact crown, suitable for use in landscaping.

The ALTERNATE leathery leaves are shiny, dark green above, and greyish-green with tiny, rusty scales on the underside. The juvenile leaves are very long and narrow.
The pretty flowers are white when they open at sunset, with a pleasant fragrance that attracts moths. 

When the sun comes up the following morning, they wilt, gradually turning pink and then purplish.

The pod-like fruits (capsules) split open sideways to reveal a bright red interior with black seeds.
Medicinal uses: 
Leaves were chopped, crushed and put in a bottle and used as smelling salts for a headache. Crushed leaves applied externally for toothache.
(Wilfred Kings, 1938 Oxford University Biological Expedition to the Cayman Islands, G.C.142)
The stem and leaves were boiled to make a tea to relieve headaches. The leaves were also used dry.
(Healing Plants of the Cayman Islands, compiled by Lorna McCubbin, March 15, 1995).
Headache Bush is sometimes the larval food plant of the Great Southern White butterfly – Ascia monuste, Family: PIERIDAE, although the eggs and caterpillars are much more commonly found on the related Bloody Head-Raw Bones - Capparis fluexuosa, (Bottle-cod Root – Jamaica;  Limber Caper - USA).

CaymANNature Flora photos 

Medicinal Plants and Cultural Uses    in Cayman- photos

FLORA of the CAYMAN ISLANDS by George R. Proctor p.333, Fig.118, Pl.23

Jamaica Caper tree (called Headache Bush in Cayman)

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