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Monday, 19 August 2013

Intriguing Plants: Popping Pod, Ruellia tuberosa

Ruellia tuberosa also known by the common or vernacular names of Popping Pod, Cracker plantr, Duppy gun, Minnie Root, Fever Root, Snapdraggon Root and Sheep potato is a plant that might be familiar to many children in the Pacific Island region. As children a common pass time for some was to pick the dried pods then lick them and throw them on an unsuspecting victim. The moisture would cause the dried seed pod to pop, startling the victim and scattering seeds and pod halves in their hair or where ever the pod had been thrown.

Ruellia tuerosa
In the course of looking up some other plants in Whistler's "Wayside Plants of the Islands. A Guide to the Lowland Flora of the Pacific Islands including Hawai’i Samoa Tonga Tahiti Fiji Guam Belau", I came across a photo of Ruellia tuerosa and was surprised to discover after a bit of on-line research that it actually had some uses beyond being the instrument of childish pranks. Unfortunately as it is generally considered a weed I had trouble finding one to photograph.
Ruellia tuerosa
I did see one specimen growing at Tanunamanono along the Cross Island Road/Vailima Road but when I went back armed with my camera I discovered to my dismay that someone had decided that the road verge had to be cleared and it had been caught up in the process.
Ruellia tuerosa
 Fortunately while driving along the Maninoa - Lefaga road a few weeks later, I caught sight of a perfect specimen and was able to take some pictures. In the process though, I discovered that dogs too like to have their photos taken as this chap stopped and then casually posed for a photo.
Ruellia tuerosa

Ruellia tuerosa


Order: Lamiales - Family: Acanthaceae - Genus: Ruellia - Species: R. tuberosa

Medical Use:

Scientific studies have been done examining its antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory properties.

It has also been used in Ayurvedic medicine as a diuretic, anti-diabetic, antipyretic, antihypertensive, gastroprotective and to treat gonorreah.
Other Uses:

It is also used as a natural dye

Ayurvedic medicine: Traditional medicine of the Indian sub continent
Anti-inflammatory: anything that prevents or reduces  inflammations
Diuretic: a diuretic is anything that promotes the production of urine
Anti-diabetic: anything that works against diabetes either to reduce the effects
Anti-pyretic: are drugs or herbs that reduce fever. The etymology of the word is Greek anti (against) and pyreticus (pertaining to fever).
Gastroprotective: anything that protects the gastrointestinal tract

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  1. why is it explode when encounter in water?

  2. Thank you for your question. I will research the issue and answer you as soon as I can. <3

    here is an article that partially answers the question but not about the water.