Saturday, 8 March 2014

Plants: Abutilon

I walk along the back roads most evenings and there's a mallow with pretty little yellow flowers growing along the verge: Abutilon pannosum.

(My photo)

It's a lanky plant with heart-shaped, serrated, grey-fuzzed leaves and single yellow flowers like buttercups.

This one is labelled Abutilon indicum, which is correct as far as I can tell.  It's a prettier picture and you can see the flowers better: 

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons

 Abutilon, especially indicum ("Indian"), is used in Ayurvedic and other alternative medicines.  I've looked through a bunch of supposedly-scientific studies that claim it cures absolutely everything and don't disclose their methods or delve into how it works, but there's some evidence that Abutilon has anti-bacterial properties.

I was at a book fair last week and bought a copy of ‘Wild Plants of the Sultanate of Oman and Their Uses,’ by Yehye bin Saeed al-Fatisi (2013).  It has this to say about the uses of Abutilon:

 Abutilon pannosum (التلمان, المنقاع)

يقطع هذا النبات إلى قطع صغيرة جدا و يخلط مع التمر و الذرة و الأسماك الصغيرة ثم يوضع في إناء يحتوي على ماء بكمية كافية و يطبخ و بعد ذلك يقدم إلى الماشية و الأبقار كوجبة صحية لها و هو يعمل على زيادة حليبها و جودته و يعمل على زيادة سمنتها.
تستعمل جذور على هيئة مسحوق معلق في الماء و بجرعة تتراوح ما بين 0-7 جم مرتين يوميا لعلاج الديسنطاريا.  و تستعمل الأوراق على هيئة عجينة مع ماء مضافا إليها فلفل بلدي لعلاج السيلان حيث تؤخذ كميات
قليلة كل 10 دقائق.[1]
(يحيى بن سعيد الفطيسي, النباتات البرية في سلطنة عُمان و فوائدها)
This plant is cut into very small pieces and mixed with dates, corn, and small fish and then placed in a pot containing a sufficient quantity of water and cooked.  It is then given to cattle as a healthy meal which increases the quantity and quality of their milk and fattens them.
The roots are used in the form of a powder suspended in water at a dose of five to seven grams, taken daily, to treat dysentery.  The leaves are used to treat gonorrhoea, in dough form with water to which is added bell pepper; small quantities are taken every ten minutes.
Which is not intended as medical advice.  Very rough translation mine.  'Abutilon' is very conveniently rendered as أبو طيلون in more formal Arabic; al-Fatisi gives the common names above. 

[1]عبد الرحمن محمد عقيل و آخرون. النباتات السعودية المستعملة في الطب الشعبي. ص 4.
  Abdurrahman Muhammad ‘Aqeel et al., Plants of Saudi Arabia Used in Folk Medicine (1987), pg. 4.

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