Abroma augustum

Abroma augustum

Abroma augusta or cotton of the devil (Abroma augustum (L.) L.f.) is a shrub species belonging to the Malvaceae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Plantae Kingdom, Magnoliophyta Division, Magnoliopsida Class, Dilleniidae Subclass, Malvales Order, Malvaceae Family and therefore to the Genus Abroma and the Species A. augustum.
The following terms are synonymous:
– Abroma alata Blanco;
– Abroma angulata Lam .;
– Abroma angulosa Poir .;
– Abroma communis Blanco;
– Abroma denticulata Miq .;
– Abroma elongata Lam .;
– Abroma fastuosum Jacq .;
– Abroma javanica Miq .;
– Abroma mariae Mart .;
– Abroma mollis DC .;
– Abroma obliqua C. Presl;
– Abroma sinuous G.Nicholson;
– Abroma wheleri Retz .;
– Ambroma augustum (L.) L. f .;
– Herrania mariae (Mart.) Decne. ex Goudot;
– Theobroma augustum L .;
– Theobroma mariae (Mart.) K. Schum ..

Etymology –
The term Abroma comes from the Greek privative prefix ἀ- and from βρῶμα bróma food, nourishment: devoid of food value since it is slightly toxic plants.
The specific epithet augustum comes from august, noble, majestic, elevated: for its large size and noble bearing.

Geographical Distribution and Habitat –
Abroma augusta is a species from an area between Bhutan, southern China, northern India, Indonesia, Solomon Islands, Nepal, Malaysia, Micronesia, Myanmar, Sumatra and Thailand.
Its habitat is that of forests, often at the edges of clearings and streams, where it grows from sea level to around 1200 m above sea level, in climates characterized by high rainfall distributed throughout the year.

Description –
Abroma augustum is a shrubby or small evergreen tree plant that can reach 6-10 m, but which is kept lower in crops.
It has cylindrical stems which in specimens in nature can reach a diameter of 15-30 cm.
The bark is grayish in color and the branches are covered with a short stinging and stinging hair that can cause dermatitis in sensitive people.
The leaves are alternate, simple, and grouped in the terminal part of the branches; they have a very variable shape (heterophyllia) presenting tri-penta lobed, on a petiole up to 40 cm long, with dimensions of 20 by 40 cm, usually on vertical branches (orthotropic), whole, on a 1,5 cm long petiole, lanceolate, 10-20 cm by 8-12 cm, usually on horizontal branches (plagiotropic); like bark and branches also the leaves are covered by an irritating hair.
The inflorescences, which are present above all on the horizontal branches, are carried by a short peduncle, are terminal or opposite scorpioid buds, bearing 1-5 hanging hermaphrodite flowers, which last only one day, 4-5 cm in diameter, with persistent pentapartite calyx with lanceolate lobes, 1,5-2 cm long, greenish, and 5 slightly concave ovate petals, 2-3,5 cm long and about 1 cm broad, red or dark purple in color.
Due to the shape of the reproductive organs and the pending position of the flower, self-pollination is prevented and fertilization is exclusively linked to the presence of pollinating insects, in particular that provide for the dispersion and deposition of pollen, first of all, the Japanagromyza tristella Thomson , 1869.
The fruit is formed in an upright position and is a pentagonal section ovoid dehiscent capsule, truncated and winged at the apex, about 5 cm long and 4 cm in diameter, with 5 loculi containing numerous ovoid seeds, 4 mm long and 2 mm in diameter, blackish.

Cultivation –
Abroma augustum is a plant that, outside the climates of origin, especially if cold can be grown in a greenhouse. In the greenhouse, plants bloom from late spring to early summer. In nature this plant is propagated by the seeds that germinate in 21-30 days at 24 ° C.
However, the seeds have a low germination duration; we recommend keeping them in lukewarm water for two days, after which they must be buried in an organic soil, with the addition of silica sand or agri-perlite to improve drainage, keeping it humid at a temperature of 24-28 ° C.
Germination times are short: about 10-30 days, and the first flowering, in the best growing conditions, takes place after about 4 months; it can also be easily reproduced by cutting or root suckers.
Abroma augustum is a fast growing plant that needs humid, rainy tropical and subtropical climates, not enduring long periods of drought, a full sun to partially shaded exposure and well drained soils, rich in organic substance, with acids neutral; in areas with drought periods it needs regular watering, but allowing it to dry slightly before giving water again.
Fertilization must be periodic, organic and ensuring the presence of microelements.
This plant, in colder climates, can also be grown in pots, to be sheltered from low temperatures, under conditions that it is placed in a very bright position with daytime temperatures not lower than 20 ° C and night minimum temperatures above 15 ° C, also if it can withstand lower values ​​by a few degrees as long as it is sporadic and short-lived

Uses and Traditions –
Abroma augusta which was first described as Theobroma augusta by Carl Linnaeus in 1767.
This plant has a prominent place in traditional medicine, in particular Indian medicine, from remote times; in these areas the roots, stems and leaves of the plant are used for various pathologies, including diabetes mellitus, dysmenorrhea, bronchitis and skin diseases, and as an aphrodisiac; the seeds contain 20% oil consisting of linoleic (70%), palmitic (15%), oleic (10%) and 5% stearic acid.
From the bark is obtained a very resistant and durable fiber similar to jute, used for a multitude of articles, which would deserve greater diffusion.
Sometimes it is also grown in gardens as an ornamental for its characteristic flowers, despite the irritating hair that covers all parts of the plant.

Preparation method –
The uses of Abroma augusta, for medicinal purposes, have been mainly adopted by traditional Indian medicine. The plant has no food use but it is very interesting because a fiber similar to jute is obtained from it.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Tips and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for information purposes only, they do not in any way represent a medical prescription; therefore, no responsibility is accepted for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.



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