Plant Listings

Neurolaena lobata

Formerly: Pluchea symphytifolia (Mill.) Gillis

Common Names: Salve Bush, Bushy Fleabane, Sour-Bush, Cough Bush, Wild Tobacco

Family: Asteraceae

Habit: Neurolaena lobata grows as a many-branching shrub to 3 meters in height.  The vegetative growth is covered with a fine glandular pubescence particularly on the abaxial leaf surfaces.  The leaves are arranged alternately, to 25 cm in length, oblong to obovate to elliptical with an entire or serrulate margin and acuminate leaf apex.

The actinomorphic flowers are arranged in corymbs of heads. The heads are subtended by a series of involucral bracts.  The outer, lower bracts ovate and the inner, upper bracts linear. The calyx is modified as hairs forming a pappus.  There are both perfect and imperfect (carpellate) flowers in the heads. The perfect flowers are in the center and the imperfect flowers are arranged around the edge of the heads.

The imperfect flowers have 3 pink fused petals and no stamens. The perfect flowers have a corolla with 5 fused, pink petals.  There are 5 stamens. In both types of flowers the ovary is inferior with a single locule but only the imperfect flowers have functional ovules.  The fruit is an achene at maturity that retains the modified calyx (pappus).

Habitat: Neurolaena lobata grows in human disturbed areas (roadsides, construction areas) in very wet to very dry areas.

Distribution in Bahamas/Globally: Neurolaena lobata occurs on all island groupings within the Bahamian Archipelago as well as Texas, Florida, the entire Caribbean, and Mexico south to northern South America.  It has also been found in the Pacific islands.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Neurolaena lobata is used medicinally in the Bahamas to treat dermatological problems, and colds and fevers (including measles). It is used elsewhere in the Caribbean to treat sprains and dislocations. The leaves have been used as a tobacco substitute.