Exostema caribaeum

Exostema caribaeum

The Caribbean Princewood (Exostema caribaeum (Jacq.) Schult.) Is an evergreen shrub species belonging to the Rubiaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota Domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Magnoliophyta Division,
Magnoliopsida class,
Order Rubiales,
Rubiaceae family,
Subfamily Cinchonoideae,
Chiococceae tribe,
Genus Exostema,
E. caribaeum species.
The following terms are synonymous:
– Cinchona caribaea Jacq .;
– Cinchona caribbeana W. Wright;
– Cinchona herbacea L .;
– Cinchona myrtifolia Stokes;
– Cinchona racemosa Schrank ex Steud .;
– Exostema longicuspe Oerst .;
– Exostema veraensis Kitanov.

Etymology –
The term Exostema comes from the Greek exo, which means external and stema which means stamen.
The specific epithet caribaeum comes from Caribaeae or Caribae Insulae: from the Lesser Antilles or West Indies.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Exostema caribaeum is a plant native to an area that includes: Colombia, Venezuela and Central America, from Panama to Mexico, from the Caribbean Trinidad to Cuba and the Bahamas, up to the south east of North America, in Florida.
Its habitat is that of dry, bushy, often rocky slopes, preferably on calcareous soils, at altitudes between 0 and 1,300 meters.

Description –
Exostema caribaeum is an evergreen shrub or sapling that grows 3 to 8 meters tall.
The trunk is short and can reach a diameter of 10 cm.
The branches are thin and wide and sometimes without a defined crown.
The leaves are narrow, pointed and opposite, dark green above and lighter below. The flowers have 5 petals which are merged into a narrow tube. The anthers are long and basifix. The stamens are inserted near the base of the corolla tube and protruding. They are single flowers, which open from the axils of the leaves and are whitish to orange in color.
The fruit is a vertical capsule that splits into two parts when ripe.

Cultivation –
Exostema caribaeum is a plant that grows spontaneously and is sometimes collected in its habitats for local use as a medicine, a source of lighting and wood.

Customs and Traditions –
Exostema caribaeum is a plant that in Florida, due to the small number of specimens, is considered endangered.
This plant is used in the medicinal field and the leaves and bark are bitter.
In the past the plant was used in some areas of its range as a substitute for quinine to treat fever, including malaria.
Among other uses, it should be remembered that its wood burns easily so much that it was used for torches.
The heartwood is light brown with yellow streaks; sapwood is yellow. The wood is hard, very heavy, strong and durable. It is commonly used for fences and has also been used in cabinet making; wood turning for items such as canes and for inlays.

Preparation Method –
The bark of this plant is mainly used in the polar medicine of the macaws where it grows spontaneously.

Guido Bissanti

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

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




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