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Tuesday - November 25, 2008

From: Edinburg, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Medicinal Plants
Title: Medicinal plants used on Hispanic ranches
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Have you ever heard of a plant, possibly native to Texas or Mexico, called Drago? Or another called Greta? In a book on South Texas ranches after 1850, these are listed as the Spanish names for two different medicinal plants commonly used on Hispanic ranches. Our museum would like to establish a medicinal herb garden, but these are two plants that we have not been able to identify. Drago is said to have made a good astringent hair rinse; Greta was used to bring down fevers. Thanks for any insight you might have on these plants.

ANSWER:

Neither of these rang any bells with us, nor did they show up with these common names in our Native Plant Database. On this Suite 101.com website  Sangre de Drago (Dragon's Blood), we did find an article about this plant, Croton lechleri, "The Dragon Blood Tree with Extraordinary Medicinal Properties" by Barbara Stewart. A member of the Euphordiaceae family, it is found in forests throughout much of northwestern South America. According to this article, applied topically or taken internally it is reputed to be a cure-all for diarrhea, inflammation, insect bites, viral infections and wounds. It would appear to be native to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

From the Tropical Plant Database we found this site with information from the book The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs by Leslie Taylor. This site attributes even more healing powers to the sap of the Croton lechleri. However, we did not find a link between that plant and ranches in South Texas. In fact, the tree is a rainforest plant, and would not have been viable being grown in South Texas. So, we suspect this is not the one you are looking for; however, we did better on that one than on "Greta". We just totally struck out on that; possibly the name has been shortened beyond understanding or is misspelled. 

In our Bibliography, we have a section on Medicinal Plants. We selected a few that we thought might help you, and they are listed below. You might go to the Bibliography and, using the Search function, see if there are other titles that would be apropos to your research. 

 

 

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