We are following the treatment in Grimes, J. W. 1990. A revision of the New World species of the Psoraleeae (Leguminosae: Papilionoideae) Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 61:29. Some other treatments retain this species in Psoralea as Psoralea orbicularis Lindl.
Lotodes orbiculare (Lindl.) Kuntze
Psoralea orbicularis Lindl.
Common Name: Roundleaf Leather Root
Hoita orbicularis is a prostrate, creeping, herbaceous perennial plant with short leafy stems up to 15cm long growing from the prostrate stem.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and a medicine.
Although no specific mention of toxicity for this species has been found, at least some members of this genus are known to contain furanocoumarins, particularly psoralen and angelicin. These compounds can be found in low concentrations in many common foods including citrus fruirs, celery, parsley and parsnips. Ingestion or skin application of these compounds in larger quantities can cause skin photosensitization followed by hyperpigmentation[
South-western N. America - California, Baja Norte.
Moist places; at elevations below 1,500 metres in California[
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Hoita orbicularis is native to the Mediterranean climate of California and Baja Norte. Mean annual rainfall can vary from 300 - 1,920mm, with most of that falling in the cooler part of the year. Average daytime temperatures can range from 14 - 25°c in the summer down to 1 - 11°c in the winter. We have no informationn on the absolute cold hardiness of this species but it will experience frosts and is growing at Kew Gardens, London (hardiness zone 7 - 8) in the system beds where it seems to be thriving[
Succeeds in a sunny position in an ordinary garden soil[
Plants are very intolerant of root disturbance, they are best planted out into their permanent positions whilst still small[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
Leaves - cooked[
A decoction of the root used as a blood purifier and in the treatment of fevers[
The plant is a good ground cover and soil stabilizer in its natural environment[
Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and then sow in early to mid spring in a greenhouse. Either sow the seed in individual pots or pot up the young seedlings as soon as possible in order to avoid root disturbance. Grow them on in the pots until planting out in their final positions. It is usually impossible to transplant this species without fatal damage to the root[
Division in spring. With great care since the plant resents root disturbance. It is virtually impossible to divide this species successfully[