This species is closely related to Heimia myrtifolia, differing mainly in having larger flowers[
Decodon salicifolius (Kunth) Kuntze
Ginoria flava Moç. & Sessé ex DC.
Nesaea salicifolia Kunth
Common Name: Erva De Vida
Three year old plant growing in a South facing border in West Sussex of the U.K
Photograph by: Amazoniaexotics
Heimia salicifolia is a deciduous shrub growing from 0.5 - 3 metres tall.
The plant is sometimes gathered from the wild and used locally to make an intoxicating drink and for medicinal purposes.
S. America - Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia; C. America - El Salvador, Guatemala to Mexico, New Mexico and Texas; Caribbean - Jamaica.
Along the sides of streams and in wet soils[
Heimia salicifolia is a plant mainly found in subtropical regions, though it is also found in the tropics usually at elevations above 600 metres. It is somewhat frost-tolerant, and can withstand short periods with temperatures falling to around -10 to -15°c[
]. It can be grown outdoors in warmer parts of the temperate zone, growing well in a sheltered position at Cambridge Botanic Gardens (hardiness zone 7) where it flowers freely most years. The plant will often resprout from the base if the top growth is cut back by cold11,
Easily grown in any well-drained soil in full sun[
]. Especially in the cooler areas of the temperate zone this plant is best grown against a sunny wall and given a good mulch of bracken in the winter in order to protect its roots[
Any pruning is best carried out in early spring by removing excess growth at the base of the plant[
An intoxicating and euphoric drink is made by crushing the wilted leaves in water and leaving the liquid in a sunny position for three days to ferment[
]. In larger quantities this can induce hallucinations and produces a vision that is typically overcast in yellow[
The leaves are antispasmodic antisyphilitic, astringent, emetic, diuretic, febrifuge, haemostatic, hallucinogenic, laxative, sedative, sudorific, tonic and vulnerary[
]. An infusion serves to stabilize the blood pressure and relieve anxiety[
]. The plant is employed most commonly to treat syphilitic affections[
A decoction of the plant is employed as a wash to relieve the effects of poison ivy (Rhus toxicodendron)[
The leaves are said to contain 9% of a bitter principle, nesine, and about 14% of a resin, the latter being the active principle[
]. If the juice or a decoction of the plant is taken internally it is said to produce a mild and pleasant intoxication, during which all objects seen appear to be yellow[
Seed - we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in spring in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle. Grow the young plants on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse and plant out in late spring or early summer. Mulch the roots well in the autumn to protect them from the cold.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, mid summer in a frame[