Pisonia aculeata

Pisonia aculeata L.

Common Names: Cock Spur, Haul Back, Pull Back, Hold Back

Family: Nyctaginaceae

Habit: Pisonia aculeata grows as a viney shrub/subtree/liana, with ascending inflorescences, spreading outward up to 7 m and often climbing on and out from other vegetation. The simple leaves are arranged oppositely, ovate to cordate, to 12 cm in length, with a sinuate leaf margin and an acute/acuminate/obtuse leaf apex.  Spines occur at the nodes and are up to 4 cm in length.

Pisonia aculeata is monoecious. The incomplete, imperfect, actinomorphic flowers are arranged in a cymose panicle. The calyx has 5, fused into a cup, sepals that are white. There are no petals. In staminate flowers there are 10 stamens and a non-functional carpel.  In carpellate flowers there are 10 non-functional stamens with a superior ovary with 1 locule and ovule.  The fruit is a 5 ribbed achene that is retained within the glandular calyx at maturity (anthocarp).

Habitat: Pisonia aculeata grows in Human Altered environments (yards, abandoned fields, roadsides) and the edges of Dry Broadleaf Evergreen Formations – Forests/Shrublands.

Distribution: Pisonia aculeata occurs in the northern Lucayan Archipelago, the Caribbean region, Central and northern South America and parts of the southern United States.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Pisonia aculeata is used medicinally in the Lucayan Archipelago to treat colds and flu and other respiratory problems.