The Crosswort (Cruciata laevipes Opiz) is a herbaceous species belonging to the Rubiaceae family.
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
the following terms are synonymous:
– Valantia cruciata L .;
– Galium cruciata (L.) Scop .;
– Galium cruciata var. laevipes (Opiz) W.D.J.Koch;
– Rubia cruciata (L.) Baill .;
– Valantia hirsuta Gilib .;
– Aparine latifolia Moench;
– Galium valantia G.Gaertn., B.Mey. & Scherb .;
– Valantia ciliata Opiz ex J.Presl & C. Presl;
– Galium glabrifolium Rochel;
– Galium cruciata var. Peterm mucronata .;
– Cruciata ciliata Opiz;
– Cruciata hirsuta Fourr .;
– Galium luteocruciatum St.-Lag .;
– Valantia crucialis Bubani.
The term Cruciata comes from crux crucis croce: a crusader with organs arranged in a cross.
The specific epithet laevipes comes from smooth, beardless, shiny laevis / levis and from pes foot, stem: with smooth and hairless stem or stem.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Cruciata laevipes is a Eurasian species. It is found in most of Europe, northern Turkey, Iran, the Caucasus and the western Himalayas. This species has also naturalized in Ontario and New York State.
In Italy it is present in all regions.
Its habitat is that of uncultivated roads, edges of the woods, on soils rich in nitrogen compounds, from sea level to the mountain belt, generally on well-drained calcareous soils.
Cruciata laevipes is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.60 meters in height.
The plant spreads by seeds and runners and has, unusually for this group, hermaphrodite yellow flowers.
Of the spiral leaves, only two in each group are true leaves, while the other two are stipules.
The inner flowers are male and fall off early, while the outer ones are bisexual and bear fruit. The flowers smell of honey.
Flowering is from April to June.
Pollination is by means of bees and flies.
The fruit is schizocarpic of 2,5-2,8 mm, with 1-2 sub-spherical mericarps, hairless and smooth or slightly streaked, brown-olive and finally blackish, shiny.
The plant is associated with mycorrhizae which penetrate the cortical cells of the roots.
Cruciata laevipes is a plant that prefers moist, loose leafy soil that is partially shaded.
Tolerates dry soils and leaves burn quickly if the plant grows in full sun; furthermore, this species does not grow well in a hot climate.
Propagation can take place by seed which must be sown in situ as soon as it is ripe at the end of summer.
The seed can also be sown in spring, although it can be very slow to germinate.
Propagation can also occur by division in spring or during the growing season if the plants are kept well watered. The larger clumps can be replanted directly into their permanent locations, although it is best to arrange the smaller clumps and grow them in a cold greenhouse until they root well and then transplant them in the spring.
Customs and Traditions –
Cruciata laevipes is a plant that has long been used for medicinal use, more common in the past and which has been almost completely abandoned today. For external use, it was usually used to soothe wounds, while for internal use the leaves were used in a vinous decoction to treat obstructions of the stomach and intestines and to stimulate appetite. It has astringent, diuretic and vulnerary properties and was also used as a remedy for rheumatism, dropsy and hernia.
The flowers of this plant have a sweet and powerful scent.
It can be used for edible use using raw or cooked leaves.
Although not widely used today, it was once considered a great wound herb for both external and internal use.
Several species of this genus contain asperuloside, a substance that produces coumarin and gives the scent of freshly mown hay when the plant dries.
Asperuloside can be converted into prostaglandins (hormone-like compounds that stimulate the uterus and affect blood vessels), making the genus of great interest to the pharmaceutical industry.
Among other uses, it should be remembered that a red dye is obtained from the root.
In some regions of Italy, such as in Abruzzo, it was collected and crushed fresh between two stones and the juice was drunk against worms.
Preparation Method –
The Crosswort is a plant that is harvested in the wild for local use as food, medicine and source of materials.
A decoction is obtained from the leaves that can also be used to treat obstructions of the stomach and intestines, to stimulate the appetite and as a remedy for rheumatism, rupture and dropsy.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 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.