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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - May 14, 2008

From: Seminole, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Herb used in treating stomachache
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Growing up in St. Petersburg, Fl my father had an herb or plant that he pronounced kee-low and I always thought it was spelled kilo. He would take it and pick it, dry it out and then make tea with it. My brother tells me he believes it was from Puerto Rico but not certain. It would grow approx. 6 inches and it was green and leafy. He would get it to us for a stomach ache. This is all the info I have for it so if you know what it might be I'd appreciate it. Thanks, Sarah

ANSWER:

Well, dang, Mr. Smarty Plants hates to admit defeat, but we can't find it. We tried Googling on several spellings of the word, and on "kelo herb" we got a number of references but they all were for a scar-healing gel, sold by herbal pharmacists, and no mention of the plant from which they came. We tried searching on our Native Plant Database for herbaceous plants native to Florida (all 903 of them) and scanning through found nothing that sounded like that. Since our database includes only plants native to North America, we tried googling "native plants of Puerto Rico." That took us to the USDA Plants Database, which does include Puerto Rico, but a search on "kelo" in that produced some plants that had, somewhere in one of the Latin names for a plant, the letters "K-E-L-O".

Do you still have the plant growing in your area? Possibly if you could send us a picture, one of our plant ID experts could figure out what it is. Go to the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page, and look in the lower right hand corner of the page under "Plant Identification", which will give you instructions for sending pictures.

 

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