Plants at a Glance

March 11, 2005

Butterfly bush(Salvia virgen)Buddleia americanaLOGANIACEAGeo-distribution: A nativeplant of Mesoamerica,salvia virgen isfound in Mexico andCentral America. In CostaRica, it is commonlyfound in the mid-range and highland regions ofthe Central Valley and Pacific slope, among secondarygrowth and along fences and pastures.Description: This perennial bush grows 1-2meters (3-6 feet) tall, on rectangular stems withopposite, elliptical, oblong, hairy and serratedleaves. The underside of each leaf is grayishgreen in color. The leaves give off a camphor likeodor. The small, pale yellow flowers areborne on panicles.Medicinal Uses: Due to the camphor-like resins, the leaves are used as a macerationto aid in the healing of lacerations, bruises, strains and sprains. An infusion of theleaves is also used to treat allergies and skin infections. Digested internally, an infusionhas been reported useful in the treatment of insomnia, menstrual problems, hemorrhoids,digestive disorders, nervous conditions, headache, upper respiratory infectionsand asthma.Preparation: The maceration is simply prepared by mashing a handful of the leaves andapplying them to the affected area of the body. As an infusion, two to six leaves aresteeped per cup of boiling water for 10-15 minutes.Dose: 1-3 cups of tea per day.Notes: This popular tropical medicinal plant is sold in local markets and herb stands.Fresh, woody stem cuttings 15-30 centimeters (6-12 inches) long can be propagatedat home in plastic nursery bags or pots with good soil. Keep the cuttings in a shadyplace and well watered until they begin to sprout new leaves, then slowly bring theminto the sun and water two to three times per week. Once the plants are well established,they can be transplanted to a permanent site in the herb garden. This plantgrows best in full sun with average, well-drained soil. Due to its large size whenmature, it is best placed along the edges of the garden. Its attractive silver-gray leavesmake it a worthy ornamental.

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