San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Plants at a Glance: Zornia (Trencilla)






Geo-distribution: A native plant of Central America, zornia is commonly found in most regions of Costa Rica, particularly in the Pacific slope and Central Valley regions. It grows in open fields, along roadsides, in vacant lots and in partial shade in forest areas. It is frequently considered an invasive plant of pastures and home sites.

Botanical description: This perennial herbaceous plant grows to 30 centimeters tall and has aromatic, pubescent, crenate, opposite leaves. Square stems stand upright, bearing the leaves and flowers. The flowers are formed on spikes with leaflets that resemble a French braid, thus the name trencilla (little braid).

Medicinal Uses: Zornia has been used traditionally as a tea for stomachaches, and the treatment of amoebas and other micro-parasites that produce diarrhea and fever. The tea has a mild flavor and is useful when treating children.

Preparation: Zornia is administered as a concentration. The leaves, stems and flowers are boiled in one liter of water until the volume of water is reduced to half a liter. Small cups of this concentrate are taken during the day. In acute cases of dysentery, zornia can be combined with the bark of aceituno Negro to increase its effectiveness. Use three pieces of one-inch-long bark for each liter of water. For mild cases of diarrhea, a handful of fresh leaves can be steeped in one liter of water for 20 minutes to make a mint-like tea. Honey can be used to sweeten this drink.

Notes: Because zornia grows abundantly in most regions of the country, it is easy to collect this plant in the wild. It can be propagated by digging up wild plants and transplanting them to the herb garden. Zornia grows best in moist soil and partial shade.


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