Apr. 27, 2017

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I can think of three reasons why plants continue to be be used as medicine.  First, of course, they actually work.  Willow bark is a good pain treatment.  It is the original source of aspirin.  Second, we want, or even expect them to work.  The placebo effect was with us long before modern pharmaceutical experiments.  Finally, there is coincidence.  If you take something and get better, you will try it again, and recommend it to your tribe.  Never knowing you were getting better despite the poison you just took.  The search for botanical cures continues today, among scientists and herbalists.  Both are occasionally successful.

Coralbean is not widespread in the US.  But it and its relatives are widespread in the tropics.  They share the same phytochemical properties, and are used in the same ways, including rodent poison, wherever they are.  African species of Erythrina, and of many other genera, were brought to the American tropics with slaves.  Shown here is coraltree, E. lysistemon.

Now a transition back to wildflower photography.  I have always admired coralbean.  This large and showy plant has flowers of an unusual shade of red.  But I've had a very hard time coming up with an image I like.  The shape of the flowers and the distance between them are a challenge for composition.  With the help of a recent rain, I was able to come up with today's image, which is as close as I've come to a satisfactory image.  It succeeds only because of raindrops, and because it somewhat disguises the true gangly nature of the plant.