Malpighia polytricha

Malpighia polytricha A. Juss.

Family: Malpighiaceae

Habit: Malpighia polytricha grows as a small to medium shrub up to 3 m in height (typically shorter).  The leaves are arranged oppositely, to 6 cm in length, oblong to oval with a retuse-rounded-acute leaf apex, and an entire or slightly dentate margin. The leaf is pale green with the surfaces covered with disarticulating stinging/irritating trichomes.

The complete, perfect, actinomorphic flowers are arranged in axillary cymes.  At the base of the flower are 3 bracts and 10 sepal glands in pairs.  The calyx has 5, unfused, green sepals.  The corolla has 5, unfused, clawed pinkish red petals that are fringed along their outer edge.  There are 10 stamens that are fused at their base and have yellow anthers.  The 3-lobed ovary is superior with 3 locules, numerous seeds, and a curved style.  The fruit is a drupe that turns red at maturity. 

Habitat: Malpighia polytricha grows in Dry Broadleaf Evergreen Formation- Forests/Woodlands/Shrublands (coppice, scrublands).

Distribution; Malpighia polytricha occurs throughout all island groupings in the Lucayan Archipelago as well as Cuba.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Malpighia polytricha is used in the Bahamas in strengthening teas (from the roots) as well as to treat respiratory problems (coughs, tuberculosis), and childhood issues (bed wetting).