Herb: Cardinal Spear


Latin name: Erythrina herbacea


Synonyms: Erythrina arborea


Family: Leguminosae



Medicinal use of Cardinal Spear:

The plant is narcotic and purgative. A cold infusion of the root has been used to treat bowel pain in women. A decoction of the roots or berries has been used to treat nausea, constipation and blocked urination. A decoction of the "beans" or inner bark has been used as a body rub and steam for numb, painful limbs and joints. A decoction of the leaves has been used as a general tonic.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

Flovering:
July to
September

Habitat of the herb:

Sandy soils in hummocks, the coastal plain and pinelands.

Edible parts of Cardinal Spear:

Flowers - cooked. An acceptable vegetable when boiled. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Young leaves - occasionally cooked and eaten.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - pre-soak for 12 hours in warm water and sow spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Overwinter in a greenhouse and plant out in late spring or early summer. Heeled cuttings of young growth in the spring in a frame. Overwinter in a greenhouse and plant out in late spring or early summer.

Cultivation of Cardinal Spear:

Sandy soils in hummocks, the coastal plain and pinelands.

Known hazards of Erythrina herbacea:

The plant contains alkaloids that have powerful narcotic and purgative effects. The seeds contain numerous toxic alkaloids, including erysodine and erysopine. They have an action similar to curare and have been used as a rat poison.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.