Taisha is the writer for today’s entry:
Today’s image is of Buddleja globosa, known commonly as orange ball tree. This photo was taken in Dominion Brook Park, North Saanich, British Columbia, and was uploaded to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool by Lotus Johnson (aka ngawangchodron@Flickr). Thanks for sharing, Lotus!
The orange ball tree is a semi-evergreen or deciduous shrub from the Scrophulariaceae. In the spring, clusters of orange flowers bloom and emit a pleasant fragrance. This ornamental species prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils and requires little maintenance, except for some pruning after flowering.
Buddleja globosa is endemic to Chile and Argentina, and was/is used by indigenous peoples of the area for medicinal purposes. The Mapuche use the leaves of this species, which is referred to as pañil, to treat wounds, gastrointestinal complaints, and hepatic-intestinal ailments.
The Mapuche people are ancient inhabitants of the South Andean region with a livelihood of hunting, agriculture, and gathering. Although their customs are deeply rooted by family tradition, the transmission of traditional knowledge is endangered. For example, knowledge of the use of medicinal plants is in decline with younger generations. Still, some knowledge transfer persists. In an ethnobotanical survey conducted by Estomba, et al. in a rural Curruhuinca community in Argentina, semi-structured interviews were carried out to examine the present use of medicinal plants and their reputed therapeutic effects. They found that the Curruhuinca dwellers quoted 89 plants species for medicinal purposes, with 268 usages including gastrointestinal, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. Forty-seven of the plant species were native (~40 of these still used) and 42 were exotic plants (34 used). As many medicinal plants are still used by the Curruhuinca people, the researchers insist that the preservation of native flora is crucial to maintain biological as well as cultural diversity of the Mapuche (see: Estomba, D. et al. 2006. Medicinal wild plant knowledge and gathering patterns in a Mapuche community from North-western Patagonia. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 103(1):109-119).