Leaf of Life

This is not it
Today I discovered some information about two more of the "weeds" in my garden. One I think I can leave in the weed category and not have any angst about ripping it out. Pictured above, it is known variously as Wild Tobacco, and Woolly Nightshade, officially as Solanum mauritianum.

It is poisonous, and handling the plants can apparently cause irritation and nausea. I didn't notice any, but after I read that, I immediately washed my hands.

On the other side of the spectrum of good and evil, there is the "Leaf of Life", (Kalanchoe pinnata) also known as air plant, miracle leaf, goethe and the katakataka plant.

This little baby, which heretofore I'd pretty much barely tolerated, has all sorts of wonderful, healthful applications. Also, though admittedly rather decorative, it has the ability to propagate itself from each and every dropped leaf. But now I'll be looking at my air plants differently. To give you an idea of the extent of its use, from an interesting site on Tropical herbs.


Kalanchoe is somewhat of a panacea to the indigenous peoples of the Amazon; they employ it for many different purposes. The Creoles use the lightly roasted leaves for cancer and inflammations, and a leaf infusion is a popular remedy for fevers. The Palikur mix the leaf juice with coconut oil or andiroba oil and then rub it on the forehead for migraines and headaches. To the Siona indigenous peoples, kalanchoe is known as 'boil medicine' and they heat the leaves and apply them topically to boils and skin ulcers. Along the Rio Pastaza in Ecuador, natives use a leaf infusion for broken bones and internal bruises. In Peru, indigenous tribes mix the leaf with aguardiente (sugar cane rum) and apply the mixture to the temples for headaches; they soak the leaves and stems overnight in cold water and then drink it for heartburn, urethritis, and fevers. The root is also prepared as an infusion and used for epilepsy. Other tribes in the Amazon squeeze the juice from fresh leaves and mix it with mother's milk for earaches.

Throughout South America kalanchoe has had a long history of use. It is commonly called the 'miracle leaf' and 'life leaf' for its remarkable healing properties. In Brazil the plant is considered a sedative, wound-healer, diuretic, anti-inflammatory and cough suppressant. It is used for all sorts of respiratory conditions-from asthma and coughs to bronchitis. It is also employed for kidney stones, gastric ulcers, skin disorders and edema of the legs. Externally a leaf infusion or the leaf juice is used for headaches, toothaches, earaches, eye infections, wounds, ulcers, boils, burns and insect bites. In Peru the plant is employed for the same uses. In Mexico and Nicaragua kalanchoe is used for similar purposes and also to promote menstruation and assist in childbirth.

God has given us such an amazing world. So much to learn, absorb, use. I've started a collection of pages with pictures and information on what is growing around here. We have a veritable pharmacy right at hand.