Apr. 27, 2017

coralbean, Erythrina herbacea

The other side of the ethnobotany story is of course the people. All of these reasons for choosing medicinal plants are rooted in human physiology and psychology. Anne and Paul asked yesterday why we would take something that makes us throw up. It seems using these old treatments had more to do with reactions than cures. But the two are not entirely disconnected. In the old days before refrigerators, there was a lot of food poisoning. Emetics would have been in high demand and were in fact an effective treatment for that problem. Same thing for anthelmintics. If you're poisoning yourself, you're poisoning the worms, which were also pretty common. We could go on, but it gets pretty unpleasant. Coralbean is a showy weedy poisonous shrub. It pretty much has the bases covered. And it's also a good rat poison. It grows in AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, OK, SC, and TX. Polk Co FL, 3/17/16.