Young shoots and leaves - cooked. An asparagus substitute. One report says that they should not be eaten raw, whilst another says that the young spring shoots were eaten raw by some native American tribes. Tips of older shoots are cooked like spinach. Young seed pods, 3 - 4 cm long - raw or cooked. Very appetizing. The immature pods are peeled before being eaten. Flower clusters can be boiled down to make a sugary syrup or they can be eaten raw. Seed - raw. A chewing gum can be made from the latex contained in the stem and leaves.Root. No further details are given, but another report says that the root can be poisonous in large quantities.
The seed floss is used to stuff pillows etc, or is mixed with other fibres to make cloth. It has also been used as a baby's nappy. The seed floss is a Kapok substitute, used in Life Jackets or as a stuffing material. It is very water repellent. The floss has also been used to mop up oil spills at sea. Rubber can be made from latex contained in the leaves and the stems. The yield is up to 3%. Pods contain an oil and a wax which are of potential importance.A green dye is obtained from the flowers and leaves combined.
A decoction of the plant tops can be strained and used to treat blindness and snow-blindness.The root is either chewed when fresh, or dried, ground into a powder then boiled, and used in the treatment of stomach ache. A decoction of the roots has been used in small doses to treat venereal diseases and also to treat coughs, especially from TB. A poultice of the mashed roots has been applied to rheumatic joints. Some caution should be employed when using the root since there is a report that it can be poisonous in large quantities.
Division in spring. With great care since the plant resents root disturbance. Pot the divisions up and place them in a lightly shaded position in the greenhouse until they are growing away strongly, then plant them out in the summer, giving them some protection from slugs until they are established..Basal cuttings in late spring. Use shoots about 10cm long with as much of their white underground stem as possible. Pot them up individually and place them in a lightly shaded position in a greenhouse until they are rooting and growing actively. If the plants grow sufficiently, they can be put into their permanent positions in the summer, otherwise keep them in the greenhouse until the following spring and when they are in active growth plant them out into their permanent positions. Give them some protection from slugs until they are established.
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A very ornamental plant, it is closely related to A. purpurascens. The roots can spread quite freely when the plant is in a suitable position. Many members of this genus seem to be particularly prone to damage by slugs. The young growth in spring is especially vulnerable, but older growth is also attacked and even well-established plants have been destroyed in wet years[K]. Plants resent root disturbance and are best planted into their final positions whilst small.The flower of many members of this genus can trap insects between its anther cells, the struggles of the insect in escaping ensure the pollination of the plant.
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
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Polycultures & Guilds
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This table shows all the data stored for this plant.
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