Neurolaena lobata

Neurolaena lobata (L.) Kass

Synonym: Pluchea symphytifolia

Common Names: Salve Bush, Bushy Flea Bane, Sour Bush, Cough Bush, Wild Tobacco

Family: Asteraceae

Habit: Neurolaena lobata grows as a many-branching shrub to 3 meters in height.  The vegetative growth is covered with a fine glandular pubescence particularly on the abaxial leaf surfaces.  The leaves are arranged alternately, to 25 cm in length, oblong to obovate to elliptical with an entire or serrulate margin and acuminate leaf apex.

The actinomorphic flowers are arranged in corymbs of heads. The heads are subtended by a series of involucral bracts.  The outer, lower bracts ovate and the inner, upper bracts linear. The calyx is modified as hairs forming a pappus.  There are both perfect and imperfect (carpellate) flowers in the heads. The perfect flowers are in the center and the imperfect flowers are arranged around the edge of the heads.

The imperfect flowers have 3 pink or yellow fused petals and no stamens. The perfect flowers have a corolla with 5 fused, pink or yellow petals.  There are 5 stamens. In both types of flowers the ovary is inferior with a single locule but only the imperfect flowers have functional ovules.  The fruit is an achene at maturity that retains the modified calyx (pappus).

Habitat: Neurolaena lobata grows in Human Altered environments (roadsides, construction areas) in very wet to very dry areas

Distribution: Neurolaena lobata occurs on all island groupings within the Lucayan Archipelago as well as Texas, Florida, the entire Caribbean, and Mexico south to northern South America.  It has also been found in the Pacific islands.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Neurolaena lobata is used medicinally in the Lucayan Archipelago to treat dermatological problems, and colds and fevers (including measles). It is used elsewhere in the Caribbean to treat sprains and dislocations. The leaves have been used as a tobacco substitute.