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October Plant of the Month: Scorpion Tail

October Plant of the Month: Scorpion Tail
Latin name: Heliotropium angiospermum, Boraginaceae
Common names: Scorpion-Tail, Heliotrope
Growth: About 2 feet in height, native to the Central East Coast of Florida, and South Florida, as well as the Caribbean and Central America. In Central Florida Scorpion-Tail is a nice herbaceous garden plant, rarely becoming weedy. The scorpion most likely to be found with Heliotropium angiospermum is Centruroides gracilis. 
Preparation: Cuba: Dried powder of leaves poured over a moistened burn; Dominican Republic & Haiti: decoction of leaves on sores and cleaning baby’s skin at birth.

In the Bahamas and Virgin Islands this plant is sometimes referred to as Eyebright, or Bright-Eye Bush, lending some information to its historical medicinal uses. Primarily, however, it’s recorded as being used mostly for skin problems, like burns.

Contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, use with caution – there have been deaths associated with overdosing on the decoction of this plant. These alkaloids are present in all Heliotropium species.


 

 


Sources:
Florida Ethnobotany, Dan Austin
Florida Native Plant Society
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