Herb: Devil's Tongue
Latin name: Amorphophallus rivieri
Synonyms: Amorphophallus konjak
Family: Araceae (Arum Family)
Medicinal use of Devil's Tongue:The root is oxytoxic and sialagogue. It is used in the treatment of cancer. The flowers are febrifuge.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Loose leafy detritus in moist shady habitats. Forest margins and thickets at elevations of 830-1200 metres in western Yunnan.
Edible parts of Devil's Tongue:Rhizome - cooked. The root must be thoroughly boiled or baked, it is acrid when raw. Very large, it can be up to 30cm in iameter. In Japan the large brown tubers are peeled, cooked and pounded to extract their starch, which is solidified with dissolved limestone into an edible gel called "Konnyaku". Konnyaku is a type of flour valued for its use in many dietary products. The flour is valued for its ability to clean the digestive tract without being a laxative. A nutritional analysis is available. This root is very high in water and low in calories, so it is being promoted as a diet food in N. America.
Other uses of the herb:The plant has insecticidal properties.
Propagation of Devil's Tongue:Seed - best sown in a pot in a warm greenhouse as soon as it is ripe and the pot sealed in a plastic bag to retain moisture. It usually germinates in 1 - 8 months at 24°C. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least a couple of years. Plant them out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts, and give them some protection such as a cloche until they are growing away strongly. Division of offsets. These are rarely produced.
Cultivation of the herb:Loose leafy detritus in moist shady habitats. Forest margins and thickets at elevations of 830-1200 metres in western Yunnan.
Known hazards of Amorphophallus rivieri:We have one report that this plant is very toxic raw, though no more details are given. It belongs to a family where most of the members contain calcium oxalate crystals. This substance is toxic fresh and, if eaten, makes the mouth, tongue and throat feel as if hundreds of small needles are digging in to them. However, calcium oxalate is easily broken down either by thoroughly cooking the plant or by fully drying it and, in either of these states, it is safe to eat the plant. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones and hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet.
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.