July Plant of the Month – Porterweed
Latin name: Stachytarpheta jamaicensis – Verbenaceae
Common name: Porterweed, snake weed, blue porterweed, Jamaican vervain, worryvine, Brazilian tea
Usage: The leaves and flowers of porterweed are utilized for food and medicine. The small blue to purple flowers are edible, make a beautiful addition to your salads and they taste like mushrooms! The name “porterweed” comes from the dark, foamy infusion of the leaves that can then be made into a beer (porter). Medicinally, porterweed is most often prepared as an infusion or decoction. The leaves and flowers of porterweed are cooling, with an affinity for the digestive, respiratory and integumentary systems. Irritated gastrointestinal issues such as indigestion, acid reflux, ulcers, constipation can be supported with an infusion of porterweed. This plant has been known to soothe an inflamed, hot respiratory system that is suffering from coughs, colds, flu, bronchitis and allergies. Topically, porterweed has shown antibacterial and antifungal properties, supporting the body’s infection-fighting abilities. Porterweed attracts many bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
*CONTRAINDICATED during pregnancy and cases of low-blood pressure
Growth/Habitat: Stachytarpheta jamaicensis is a small, short-lived perennial shrub, native to the southern coastal regions of Florida, as well as throughout the Caribbean. Porterweed thrives where it is planted throughout the state of Florida in full sun to partial shade, in moist, well-drained, sandy soil. An Asian relative of S. jamaicensis, is S. urticifolia, also called blue porterweed. S. urticifolia is often sold at plant nurseries and can be distinguished from S. jamaicensis based on it’s leaf shape and growing habits. S. urticifolia grows erect and upright, where as S. jamaicensis crawls lower to the ground and has more narrow leaves. S. jamaicensis leaves are oblong and serrated, arranged oppositely along the stem. Blue porterweed flowers range from light blue to dark purple.
Sources: Liew, Pearl M, and Yoke K Yong. “Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.” Stachytarpheta Jamaicensis (L.) Vahl: From Traditional Usage to Pharmacological Evidence, 2016, doi:10.1155/4747.