USES.—The huge fruit of this tree is well known to the Filipinos and well liked by them as an article of food, eaten fresh or in sweet preserves. The arils and pulpy envelopes of the seeds are the parts eaten, also the seeds themselves, boiled or roasted. According to Padre Mercado the roasted seeds have an aphrodisiac action.
The heated and powdered leaves are applied to wounds and given internally for congestions. The resin of the trunk is a useful application to ulcers and in India they give it internally to cure la melena, the dose, one “tola” mixed with the same amount of manga resin and a little lime water. The same resin if heated makes an excellent cement for broken china.
BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION.—A tree, 20° or more in height, with abundant milky sap. Leaves alternate, oval, acute at both ends, slightly wavy and revolute borders, tough, glabrous and dark green upper surface; light green, slightly rough under surface. Petioles short. Flowers greenish, monoecious, growing on root, trunk and branches. Calyx very small, monophyllous, of about 7 deciduous lobules. Staminate: On a club-shaped receptacle, 3′ or 4′ long, bristling with the stamens; filaments very short, anthers 2-celled. Pistillate: On a common, oblong receptacle which ripens to the great fruit; style 1, short; rarely 2 divergent styles; stigmas acute. Fruit about size and shape of a small watermelon, beset with many sharp eminences, containing many seeds enveloped in thick arils.
HABITAT.—It grows in all parts of the Archipelago and is commonly known.
Laportea gaudichaudiana, Wedd. (Urtica umbellata, U. ferox, Blanco.) NOM. VULG.—Lig̃aton, Lipa, Apariagua (?), Tag., Vis.; Lipag̃doton, Pam.
USES.—The Padre Mercado writes as follows concerning the properties of this plant: “The leaves, applied with salt in the form of a plaster, purify dog bites, foul, putrid, malignant and cankerous ulcers; they cure boils, contusions and all abscesses; mixed with wax they may be applied for obstruction of the spleen; mashed with the juice and inserted in the nose they arrest nose-bleed; cooked with snails they soften the stomach, excite the secretion of urine and dissipate flatus; the juice given as a gargle aborts inflammation of the epiglottis. The seeds mixed with wine are a sexual excitant and “clear out” the womb; taken with syrup they relieve dyspnoea, pain in the side and inflammation of the lungs and force up the humors from the chest; it may be mixed with medicines that corrupt the flesh (sic). The grated root drunk with wine relieves painful flatulence. I myself (continues the Padre Mercado) have experimented with a woman who suffered with painful flatulence and this remedy relieved her.” We repeat that all the foregoing is copied from the writings of Padre Mercado and we offer it as a therapeutic curiosity.
P. Blanco states that merely to touch the leaves causes an intolerable itching.
BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION.—A small tree, 12–15° high, trunk richly branched.
Leaves opposite, bunched at the ends of the branches, notched at the base, long, ovate, serrate, hairy on both surfaces. Flowers yellowish-white, dioecious.
Staminate: In compound racemes; calyx 4 parts; corolla none; stamens 4, inserted on the base of the calyx. Pistillate: Flowers in 2-forked umbel, flat, very large; calyx, none; stamens none; stigma 1; seed heart-shaped.
HABITAT.—Very common in all the fields and in the mountains. Blooms in June.
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