Strumpfia maritima

Strumpfia maritima Jacq.

Common Names: Candle Torch, Mosquito Bush

Family: Rubiaceae

Habit: Strumpfia maritima grows as a shrub up to 2 meters in height (typically 1 meter). The needle like, sessile leaves are arranged oppositely with triangular stipules between the petioles.  The leaves are linear to 3 cm long, with an apiculate leaf apex and a slightly revolute margin. The abaxial surface is pubescent on either side of the mid vein forming 2 parallel white lines.

The complete, perfect, actinomorphic flowers are arranged in few flowered axillary racemes. The calyx has 5 fused, triangular sepals.  The corolla has 5 fused pubescent pinkish white petals that form a short tube.  There are 5 stamens that are fused to the perianth forming a hypanthium. The ovary is inferior with 2 locules and 2 ovules.  The fruit is a white drupe at maturity.

Habitat: Strumpfia maritima grows along shorelines on Dunes and Rocky Shores as well as inland rock flats.

Distribution: Strumpfia maritima occurs on all island groupings in the Lucayan Archipelago, as well as southern Florida and the Caribbean region and Mexico.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Strumpfia maritima is used medicinally in the Lucayan Archipelago to treat cuts and sores.  It has been used elsewhere in the Caribbean region to treat colds, gastrointestinal problems, and helping to pass kidney stones using very weak tea.  Smoke from burning it helps keep away mosquitos.

Caution:  It can cause abortions and sterility in women.  Should be used sparingly and weakly.