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P Introduced Photo: N Arun Kumar
Common name: Snakewort
Botanical name: Dorstenia contrajerva    Family: Moraceae (Mulberry family)
Synonyms: Dorstenia alexiteria, Dorstenia houstonii, Dorstenia quadrangularis

Snakewort is a small evergreen perennial plant with a creeping rhizome from which emerges a rosette of leaves with long leaf-stalks. Leaves are variably shaped, with plants with lobed and unlobed leaves co-occurring in the same populations. Leaves are up to 20 cm long on leaf-stalks up to 25 cm long. When damaged the plant exudes a white latex. Tiny male and female flowers are distributed intermixed on a discoid receptacle of convoluted shape. The fruits are small and contained in a four-edged container. The tiny seeds are explosively expelled. Snakewort is native to southern Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and northern South America including Peru. It is cultivated worldwide.
Medicinal uses: In folk medicine in Honduras the boiled root is used to cure diarrhea, dysentery, and stomach ache. The slightly roasted and ground root is used to treat intestinal worms and parasites. The crushed root is mixed with water to treat the bites of snakes.

Identification credit: N Arun Kumar Photographed in FRLHT Gardens, Bangalore.

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