Flowering plants of Fiji
15 March, 2023, 3:57 pm
- Thunbergia Erecta (lali and Bluebell)
Fijians know a bluebell or the lali plant when they see one. This is a plant that grows in many parts of Fiji. According to the Healing Plants of Fiji book, the thunbergia erecta, is a plant that grows fast and has a lot of branches. It’s garden shrub can grow from one metre to two metres high. The plant has lanceolate leaves, meaning it’s shaped like a lance head with a narrow oval shape that tapers to a point at each end. The leaves according to the book ranges from 1.5 cm to 9cm long and a 0.5cm to 5cm wide. The plant as highlighted by the book has a beautiful blue or purple-blue auxiliary and solitary tubular flower. It is called the lali which means bell in Fiji as the flower is bell-shaped. The plant is commonly found in the Pacific even though its native to the tropical Western parts of Africa. The leaves are used to treat mouth thrush both in children and in adults in Fiji.
2. Catharanthus Roseus (Wacece or Periwinkle)
The Periwinkle or Madagascar periwinkle is a flowering plant found in most yards in Fiji, whether it has grown wildly or nurtured as a backyard plant, the Wacece as it’s also called is a herb or low sub-ligneous shrub that grows up to a metre high. These plants are quite popular because of its beautiful flowers. The flowers come in different colours. The periwinkle colours mostly found in Fiji are pink, purple and white but according to the Healing Plants of Fiji book the plant also blooms red. The plants leaves as highlighted in the book arises in opposite and alternate arrangements on thin branches and the leaves and stems are crushed and kneaded in water to treat type 2 diabetes and hypertension.
3. Sphagneticola Trilobata (Dromodromo, Wedelia, Creeping Wedelia or Trailing Daisy)
It is a plant that is native to Mexico, Central America and Carribean according to Wikipedia. The plant is spreading mat-forming recurrent herb that grows up to 30cm in height and is highlighted by Wikipedia, has rounded stems up to 40cm long. The Healing Plants of Fiji book highlighted that the leaves grow from 4 to 9cm long and 2 to 5cm wide, the leaves are hairy serrated or are irregularly toothed at margin. According to the book, this plant is often crushed and its juice is applied or used on external swelling like boils in Fiji.
4. Glochidion Vitiense (Molautagane)
A common traditional herbal remedy, the Molautagane or Molau as its commonly known in Fiji is a plant or tree that grows up to 8 metres high. This plant or shrub according to the healing Plants of Fiji is endemic to Fiji and is often found in larger islands as well as some outer islands.
5. Oxalis Corymbosa (Pink wood sorel or Tototwiwilecu)
For children growing up in villages, the Oxails Corymbosa or Totowiwi as its commonly called in Fiji was a flowering plant that would often be picked and eaten after a game on the village playground or before a weeding session in the farm because of its zesty lemony flavour. It was eaten raw both by children and adults as it was found in village yards and farms and was considered medicinal. According to the Healing Plants of Fiji book, the plant is an introduced perennial stem-less garden herb that grows on a bulbous base and has beautiful purplish flowers that bloom all around. Wikipedia highlighted that the plants’ flowers, leaves and roots are edible. Even though the plant can be consumed, Wikipedia emphasised that it shouldn’t be consumed in large amounts because of its oxalic acid property.