The garlic vine (Mansoa alliacea (Desv. ex Beauverd) A.H.Gentry) is a shrub species belonging to the Bignoniaceae family.
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Species M. alliacea.
The term is basionym:
– Bignonia alliacea Lam..
The terms are synonymous:
– Adenocalymma alliaceum (Lam.) Miers;
– Adenocalymma obovatum Urb.;
– Adenocalymma pachypus (K.Schum.) Bureau & K.Schum.;
– Adenocalymma sagotii Bureau & K.Schum.;
– Adenocalymma alliaceum (Miers);
– Adenocalymna macrocarpum;
– Adenocalymna obovatum;
– Adenocalymna sagotii;
– Anemopaegma pachypus K.Schum.;
– Bignonia alliacea Sagot;
– Bignonia citrifolia Vitman;
– Pachyptera alliacea (Lam.) A.H.Gentry;
– Pseudocalymma alliaceum (Lam.) Sandwith;
– Pseudocalymma alliaceum var. macrocalyx Sandwith;
– Pseudocalymma pachypus (K.Schum.) Sandwith;
– Pseudocalymma sagotii (Bureau & K.Schum.) Sandwith;
– Pseudocalymma sagotii var. macrocalyx (Sandwith) L.O.Williams.
The term Mansoa was given in honor of the Brazilian botanist, doctor and politician Antonio Luiz Patricio da Silva Manso (1788-1848).
The specific epithet alliacea derives from the Latin adjective “alliaceus, a, um”, similar to garlic, in reference to the garlic smell that emanates when the leaves are crushed.
Mansoa alliacea is a plant native to tropical America and present in an area that includes South America, from Brazil and Peru, north to Costa Rica.
Its habitat is that of the rainforest where it grows in organic and well-drained soils.
Mansoa alliacea is a semi-woody and evergreen shrub or climbing plant.
The stems are 2-3 m long and the young branches have an almost quadrangular section.
The leaves are located on a 0.7-1.5 cm long petiole; they are opposite, bifoliate, often with a simple cirrus between the leaflets 5-20 cm long. The leaflets are found on a small petiole 0.5-1.2 cm long, oblong-ovate in shape with obtuse or sharp apex and entire margin, 10-20 cm long and 3-9 cm wide, leathery, with the edges at the sides of the central rib slightly curved upwards and the apex curved downwards, intense green in color and shiny above. The crumpled leaves emit a strong garlic odor, hence the common name.
The inflorescences are located in an axillary or panicle-like terminal position, on a 0.8-1.5 cm long peduncle; these bear numerous funnel-shaped flowers of a mauve purple color with a white throat, which tend to pink and almost white as time passes, 6.5-9 cm in length and 3-5 cm in diameter. The calyx is bell-shaped, 0.5-0.8 cm long, generally truncated at the apex or slightly five-toothed, green in colour; the corolla has a 5-8 cm long tube and 5 rounded lobes, 1-2.5 cm long, and 4 didynamous stamens. The flowers emit a faint garlic odor that can only be detected from a very short distance.
The fruit is a flattened linear capsule with a rounded apex, 10-50 cm long and 1.5-2.4 cm wide, with the two faces crossed in the middle by a thin crest, containing numerous seeds with two membranous wings, 1.5 cm long. 8-6 cm and 1-1.5 cm wide.
Mansoa alliacea is a plant also cultivated as an ornamental species, with foliage that smells of garlic.
It is a tropical rainforest plant and prefers soil that retains moisture but is well-drained and rich in humus. The plant can resist temperatures a few degrees above zero, but fears frost, so outside its range, it is a good idea to shelter the plants during the winter, or mulch them well at the base and possibly cover them with a non-woven fabric.
This species has showy and abundant flowering that goes from spring to autumn; it grows moderately slowly, can be cultivated in open ground in humid tropical and subtropical regions, its cultivation can be attempted, in a sheltered position, in the milder temperate-warm regions where temperatures close to 0 °C are short-lived exceptions.
For cultivation it requires full sun or light shade and well-draining soils, not tolerating water stagnation, rich in organic substance, and ample availability of water during the vegetative period.
If you decide to prune it, to maintain a more compact shape or to grow it as a bush, this must be done after flowering.
Where permanent outdoor cultivation is not possible, it can be grown in pots to be sheltered in the colder months in a particularly bright protected environment with minimum night temperatures not lower than 14 °C.
Watering must be abundant and frequent during the vegetative period, more spaced in winter in order to dry the surface layer of the substrate. For ornamental purposes, monthly fertilizations can be carried out, from spring to early autumn, with balanced water-soluble products, containing microelements but in a moderate manner.
Reproduction can be carried out by seed placed in a draining substrate and kept humid at a temperature of 25-28 °C. In these conditions germination times are 1-2 months. It can also be easily propagated by semi-woody cuttings, with 3-4 nodes, two of which are buried, and by offshoot.
Customs and Traditions –
Mansoa alliacea is a plant known by various common names: amethyst vine, garlic vine (English); alho-de-mata, cipó-alho (Brazil); morada bell, chica, chirriador (Colombia): jalapa (Costa Rica); liane d’ail (French); ajo del monte, ajo sacha, sacha ajo (Peru); bejico de ajo, mata de ajo (Puerto Rico).
The species is often erroneously indicated with the name of Cydista aequinoctialis (L.) Miers (synonym of Bignonia aequinoctialis L.) which is a different species, easily distinguishable due to the absence of the typical garlic odor emanating from the crumpled leaves.
The plant has long been used in traditional medicine by local populations and is also commonly grown as an ornamental and indoor pot plant.
It is also a ritual plant in the Amazon and used as a condiment for foods and has medicinal properties.
The species, in fact, has played a fundamental role in the traditional medicine and rituals of the indigenous populations of the Amazon since ancient times, as well as as a condiment for food.
Some extracts of various parts of the plant have been used mainly in lung diseases, colds, rheumatism, as analgesics, febrifuges, vermifuges, insect repellents; laboratory studies have highlighted the presence of numerous compounds with antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral and hypotensive activities.
The plant contains a number of medically active compounds. These include many of the major sulfur compounds found in garlic, including alliin and allyl sulfides. These are the compounds responsible for the garlic-like smell and taste. These compounds are known to lower blood cholesterol levels and inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine.
The wood of the vine is said to contain two lapachone chemicals which are well-known plant chemicals from the Bignoniaceae family and documented with anti-tumor and antimicrobial actions.
The leaves and/or flowers contain the well-known anti-inflammatory and antibacterial plant steroids beta sitosterol, stigmasterol, daucosterol and fucosterol.
In the medicinal field, as mentioned, it is a plant with various properties, among which it is: anodyne, antibacterial, anticholesterolemic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, antitussive, antiviral and febrifuge. The plant has also been recommended as a vermifuge.
An aqueous extract of the leaves has been shown to have an antioxidant effect which has been attributed to the anthocyanin compounds present in the plant.
Research has confirmed the plant’s long-standing use for the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism, reporting that the plant is able to inhibit COX (an enzyme necessary in the inflammatory process).
The plant has also been reported to exert antimicrobial actions against fungi, plant viruses, and bacteria, which may help explain its long-standing use for colds, flu, pneumonia, and other upper respiratory infections.
No other uses are known.
Preparation Method –
Mansoa alliacea is a very common and respected herbal remedy in the Amazon against the pain and inflammation of arthritis and rheumatism, as well as against colds, flu and fever but also against diarrhea and skin ulcers.
The bark is used in ayahuasca preparations (which is a psychedelic decoction based on various Amazonian plants capable of inducing a visionary as well as purgative effect).
Some capsule and leaf products are sold in stores in Brazil and Peru and can be found as an ingredient in various other multi-herbal formulas for cold and flu pain.
Many consider it the “magical” or “spiritual” plant and hang bunches of leaves in the house as a good omen or to ward off evil spirits. The leaves are burned as a stain on people or in homes to “purify the spirit” or to bring good luck.
The plant has also become a popular treatment in modern herbal medicine in South America, where it is widely used to treat arthritis, rheumatism, muscle aches and pains, injuries and pain.
Both the bark (in infusion) and the leaves (in decoction) are used as a treatment against rheumatism, arthritis, colds, uterine disorders, inflammation and epilepsy.
The root is prepared in a cane alcohol tincture as a rejuvenating tonic for the entire body.
The bark is used as a poultice on bumps, swellings and inflammatory conditions of the skin.
The leaves are used in the treatment of colds and as a fertility aid. They are commonly added to baths to treat fevers, flu, muscle pain, cramps and fatigue.
In edible use, the leaves are used as a condiment or spice for their garlicky flavor and smell.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– 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 d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and food uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; we therefore decline any responsibility for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.