San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Pretty in Pink: Roble de Sabana

Common Name: Pink trumpet tree

Spanish Name: Roble de sabana

Latin Name: Tabebuia rosea

Family: Bignoniaceae

Geo-distribution: A native tree of Mesoamerica and the national tree of El Salvador, roble de sabana or roble coloradois commonly found growing in the warmer regions of Costa Rica. Since these trees are now pantropical and considered world-class ornamentals for landscaping, it is easy to find them lining avenues or parks in many cities and suburbs. They grow naturally in pastures and savannas.

Botanical Description: These trees have gray bark and compound leaves with no serrated edges. The leaves fall in the dry season and the trees bloom with flowers ranging from pastel pink to pastel maroon.

Medicinal Uses: The inner bark of this tree has been used for centuries in folk remedies in the tropical Americas. It was reported to be the sacred tree and medicine of the Maya. This powerful botanical medicine is known for healing a wide range of illnesses because of its ability to restore the immune system.

Traditional use of the bark has been reported to help in the following health problems: anemia, arteriosclerosis, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, boils, cancer, candida, colitis, colds, constipation, coughs, cystitis, diabetes, diarrhea, emphysema, dysentery, eczema, fevers, flu, gastritis, gall bladder problems, infections, liver problems, lung problems, leukemia, pain, parasites, prostate problems, pyorrhea and wounds.

No wonder the native indigenous people considered it a sacred tree! After the success I have had in 15 years of helping patients with this bark, I too consider these majestic trees a sacred gift of nature.

Preparation: Carefully cut the outer bark from mature branches down to the cambium layer or cortex. Next, slice off the cortex down to the wood of the branch. These strips of inner bark can be cut into two- to three-centimeter pieces on a clean cutting board and then dried quickly (within three days) in a hot, dry place. Store the processed bark in an airtight container.

To make a slightly bitter, woody-tasting tea, boil one to two grams of the bark in one cup of water for 10 to 15 minutes. The dosage can range from one to three cups per week to prevent health problems, to one to six cups per day for acute or chronic illnesses. The dried bark can also be ground in the blender to a dry powder and placed in empty gelatin capsules. Take three to six capsules per day for acute and chronic illnesses.

Notes: Pink trumpet trees can be started at home by planting seeds in plastic nursery bags or recycled containers, or young branches (100 cm long and five to 10 cm in diameter) can be planted directly in the soil about 30 cm deep. Select sites for planting that are sunny with good soil drainage.

During the first year of growth, keep your new trees weed free and watered once a week in the dry season. Once these hardy trees are well established, little care is needed. An annual application of organic fertilizer around the base of the trees will help keep them growing well. Pruning the tops of the trees will help keep them low and compact.


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