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ShrubbySpecies Plant

Grewia occidentalis

Grewia occidentalis

The assegai wood or bow-wood, buttonwood, cross-berry, four-corners, lavander star flower, star-flower (Grewia Occidentalis L. 1753) is a shrub species belonging to the Malvaceae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Division Magnoliophyta,
Class Magnoliopsida,
Subclass Dilleniidae,
Malvales Order,
Malvaceae family,
Genus Grewia,
Species G. Occidentalis.
The terms are synonymous:
– Grewia chirindae Baker fil.;
– Grewia microphylla Weim.;
– Grewia obtusifolia Eckl. & Zeyh.;
– Grewia occidentalis var. litoralis Wild;
– Grewia seringeana Hamon bis;
– Grewia trinervis E.Mey.;
– Grewia ulmifolia Salisb..

Etymology –
The term Grewia is in honor of the English physician and botanist Nehemiah Grew (1641–1712), author of “The Anatomy of Plants” (1682).
The specific epithet Occidentalis comes from the Latin “occidentalis, e”, i.e. western, given by Linnaeus to distinguish it from Grewia orientalis L. native, according to the knowledge of the time, to India.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Grewia Occidentalis is a plant native to Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe and is naturally present throughout south-eastern Africa, where its range extends from Cape Town along the coast to Mozambique and inland to Zimbabwe.
Its native habitats are very varied; the plant is found both in the arid karoo of western South Africa and in the Highveld, and in the afromontane forests of the Drakensberg chain along the eastern coast, so it lives both in forests and scrublands near watercourses and semi-arid areas on sandy or rocky soils, from sea level up to approximately 1500 m altitude.

Description –
Grewia Occidentalis is a plant that grows in the form of a woody shrub or small evergreen or deciduous tree, in less favorable climates. The plant grows up to about 3 m in height, with generally prostrate branches, initially reddish-brown and pubescent, then greyish and glabrous.
The leaves are borne by a 0.5-2 cm long petiole; they are alternate, simple, ovate to ovate-lanceolate with obtuse or acute apex and crenate-serrated margin, 3-7 cm long and 2-4 cm wide, olive green in colour, semi-gloss.
The inflorescences are found on a peduncle 1-1.4 cm long, axillary, cymose, bearing few flowers, on a pubescent pedicel about 1 cm long, pink, lavender or purple, rarely white, of about 3 cm in diameter. The calyx is composed of 5 linear-lanceolate sepals with acute apex, greenish-white externally, of the same color as the petals internally, about 1.8 cm long, 5 oblong-linear petals, about 1.3 cm long, numerous stamens of the same color with yellow anthers, four-lobed ovary and style, about 1 cm long, with four-lobed stigma.
The flowers are hermaphroditic, but protandrous (the male organs mature before the female ones), this prevents self-pollination which must necessarily be crossed.
The fruit is a four-lobed drupe, reddish brown in color when ripe, 2-4 cm in diameter, persistent for a long time on the plant.

Cultivation –
Grewia Occidentalis is a climbing deciduous shrub or small, occasionally climbing tree that is often harvested in the wild for local use of its fruit, while it also has medicinal uses and is a source of wood and hair shampoo.
This plant grows in tropical and subtropical climates and can tolerate even short frosts.
Soil-wise it grows in most soil types in full sun or shade and established plants are drought tolerant.
It has a non-aggressive root system and can therefore be planted near buildings and pavements.
This plant represents a decorative shrub with long flowering, easy cultivation and medium fast growth, usable, due to the notable flexibility of the branches, as a ground cover, as a hanging or to cover espaliers, it tolerates pruning, even drastic ones, and can therefore grow into small trees. , borders, hedges, formal and informal, and proves particularly suitable for topiary art and the creation of bonsai.
The plant can be cultivated in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate climate regions, where it can withstand temperatures down to around -5 °C for a short period, but with damage to the foliage starting from -2/-3 °C, in full sun or at most slightly shaded and adapts to a wide variety of soils, as long as they are draining; it can withstand periods of drought, but thrives if regularly watered in climates with long hot, dry summers.
It can also be grown in pots for the decoration of open spaces and possibly to be sheltered in winter in a particularly bright environment, with minimum temperatures not lower than 10 °C, using a fertile soil with the addition of coarse sand or agri-perlite for excellent drainage. Regular and abundant watering during growth, but without stagnation, more spaced in winter so as to allow the upper layer of soil to dry, and monthly fertilization, in spring and summer, with a water-soluble product balanced at half the recommended dose.
Reproduction can be carried out by seed previously kept in water for two days, in draining, aerated soil, kept humid at a temperature of 24-28 °C, with germination times of 2-6 weeks, and also by cutting, offshoot and layering. .

Customs and Traditions –
Grewia Occidentalis is a plant known by some common names; among these are: assegai wood, bow-wood, buttonwood, cross-berry, four-corners, lavander star flower, star-flower (English); assegaaibos, booghout, iLalangathi, iKlolo, iManhlele, mogwana, kruisbessieboom, mokukutu, mulembu, muMaka, umSipane, Nsihana, rosyntjiebos (South Africa).
The fruits of this are an important source of food for fauna which contributes to the dispersion of the seeds, which germinate more easily after passing through the digestive system of the animals that feed on them.
The fruits are edible and locally consumed raw or in the form of juice; from them, after fermentation, an alcoholic drink is obtained. The wood, particularly resistant and flexible, easily workable on the lathe, is used for small craft objects and by some tribes to make spears and arrow bows. Various parts of the plant have been used since ancient times in traditional medicine for various pathologies, as well as for magical rites.
This plant has a very wide distribution, a large population, currently presents no serious threats and no significant future threats have been identified. The plant is classified as “Least Concern” in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (2018).
Among other uses, it should be remembered that the wood is used to make bows, walking sticks, spear shafts, etc.

Preparation Method –
Grewia Occidentalis is a plant that is used in its natural state for its edible fruits and represents a source of food for insects, birds and wildlife.
The plant is also grown for ornamental use both in the open field and in pots.
The fruits are edible and are eaten raw. In some areas where the sugar content of the fruits is high, they are harvested and dried for later use.
In some areas a beer is also produced from the ripe fruit.
In the medicinal field this plant represents an important source for multiple purposes.
It is in fact a species widely used in traditional medicine.
All Grewia are prized in many cultures for their medicinal virtues. The main medicinal action appears to come from the mucilage found in the leaves, stems and roots, which has been shown to have soothing and healing properties. Taken internally it is often used as a remedy against diarrhea and dysentery, for example, while externally it is applied on wounds, cuts, ulcers, irritations, etc. The plant can be taken as a simple infusion or decoction, or it can be applied topically. as a poultice of the plant, or the mucilage can be extracted from the plant, if required, by maceration and then decoction.
Pounded or chopped bark, soaked in hot water, is used to heal wounds.
Root extracts were used to aid in childbirth.
Parts of the plant were used to treat impotence and sterility.
Pounded bark, when used regularly as a shampoo, is believed to prevent hair from turning grey.

Guido Bissanti

– 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.

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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.

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