Check out my article on local bush medicine in the Spring 2020 issue of Real Life Magazine here! To read the e-version of the magazine, click here.
"We carried those smoke pans anywhere we go, keep the mosquitoes from biting you. Those mosquitoes were terrible on Cayman." - Nell Connor (interview with Richard Westmacott) You don't need to talk to an older Caymanian or read archival interviews to know how troublesome Cayman's mosquitoes are. Despite 55 years of research and work by … Continue reading Put dat in ya pot an’ smoke it!
Common Name(s): Spanish Needles, Beggarticks, Black Jack, Devil’s Needles, Cobbler’s Pegs, Broom Stick, Pitchforks, Farmers’ Friends, Needle Grass Scientific Name: Bidens pilosa Medicinal Uses: None locally but the folkloric use of B. pilosa has been recorded around the world, from North and South America to Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Most often dismissed as a roadside … Continue reading Spanish Needles
Common Name(s): Pepper Cinnamon Scientific Name: Canella winterana Medicinal Uses: The inner bark is used in a tea to treat fever, indigestion, sore throats, and aches and pains. However, be warned: the outer bark is toxic. With its dark, glossy leaves and scarlet berries, pepper cinnamon is a striking tree that is also critically endangered … Continue reading Pepper Cinnamon
Common Name(s): Worry Vine, Vervine, Porter Weed Scientific Name: Stachytarpheta jamaicensis Medicinal Uses: Used in a tea to treat anxiety, heart conditions, coughs, fevers, constipation and colds. Leaves were mashed for use in poultices. Midwives used the entire plant either as a tea (in combination with cerasee) or vaginal irrigation. This bushy herb is described … Continue reading Worry Vine
Common Name(s): Yellow Root, Rhubarb Root, Strong Back Scientific Name: Morinda royoc Medicinal Uses: Tea made from the leaves and stems was used to treat back pain and kidney ailments. According to a CINA Memory Bank interview with Austin Bothwell from West Bay, the tea was also good for stopping bed-wetting in children. The genus … Continue reading Yellow Root
"Toothache? You used to have enough of that. They had a bush down there that grow along the sand, the beach. That were jennifer." - Genveva Range (CINA Memory Bank Interview) Common Name(s): Juniper, Junifer, Jennifer Scientific Name: Suriana maritima Medicinal Uses: Tea could be made from the leaves. Bark used as a poultice for … Continue reading Jennifer
Common Name(s): Bluebell Scientific Name: Clitoria ternatea Medicinal Uses: None in local tradition. In Ayurvedic medicine, it has been used for centuries as a memory enhancer, nootropic, antistress, anxiolytic, antidepressant, anticonvulsant, tranquilizing and sedative agent (Journal of Ethnopharmacology). When "butterfly pea tea" started popping up all over Instagram, I immediately wanted to know what flowers … Continue reading Bluebell
"The castor oil nut, or simply oil nut, was a purgative and tasted terrible but few youngsters escaped getting a dose at least once." - Cromwell Ebanks (CINA Memory Bank Interview) Common Name(s): Castor Bean, Castor Oil Plant, Castor Oil Nut, Oil Nut Scientific Name: Ricinus Communis Medicinal Uses: Made from the beans of the … Continue reading Castor Oil Plant
Common Name(s): Wormwood, Geranium, Running Wormwood Scientific Name: Ambrosia hispida Medicinal Uses: Leaves brewed as a tea to cure the common cold or in a compress for sprains. Also used in soap making in order to relieve itchy skin conditions. With its silvering, lobed leaves, this plant’s resemblance to Artemisia absinthium – the Old World common wormwood – … Continue reading Wormwood
"You boil it down strong and you can put little sugar. You see, it just like medicine." - Joselyn Rankin (CINA Memory Bank Interview) Common Name(s): Rosemary Scientific Name: Croton linearis Medicinal Uses: Tea made from the leaves and stems was used to treat diabetes and alongside other medicinal plants after giving birth. It was … Continue reading Rosemary
"People comes from all over the whole island for this dash-a-long. Especially in the winter time when they have colds and fevers and all that. That's why I grow all of these so that I can help any neighbours that comes that wants." - Nolan Smith (CINA Memory Bank Interview) Common Name(s): Dash-a-long, Ramgoat dash-a-long, … Continue reading Dash-A-Long