Wild Arkansas

September 2, 2008

Wild Arkansas: Asiatic Dayflower

Filed under: commelina, Edible plants, foraging, health, herbs — Tags: , , , , , — WildArkansas @ 3:59 pm

In early July, small, bright green tendrils of vine began twining amongst the Honeysuckle. At the end of the vine was a bright blue flower peeking from the small taco-shaped end point. In Lowell (Arkansas), the vine grows next to pastures and roadways with bordering fences and in full sun and the leaves and flower appear nearly fluorescent.

Though parts of the plant look succulent, before nibbling I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t end up in the emergency room.

Not one of the several herb books I have identified this flower, and after identification was made, there was no listing for it. There is some research into the properties and constituents of communis, but most of it is buried in science journals.

According to some sources the plant grows everywhere and is considered an invasive weed. Native to Eastern Asia the dayflower has been naturalized in most countries that can support it.

Quite by accident, researchers studying the behavior of orangutans in Indonesia happened to see one of the animals grab a handful of dayflower leaves, chew them into lather and use it as a salve on her arm. After finishing, the ape threw the concoction down and went on her way, and the discarded material was gathered for analysis.

Despite its weedy status, the dayflower or Commelina communis has medicinal properties. Humans and animal use the plant as a pain reliever for sore muscles and bones and ingest the plant as anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and immune system support.

Recent research into the plant has shown it is effective in treating type-2 diabetes and contains a high concentration of antioxidants.

The whole plant is edible, though some prefer the new young shoots and seed pods raw or cooked. The plant can be added to salads and mixed with other veggies in stir fry and retains a fresh flavor. I prefer the younger leaves, because they retain their tenderness. The older leaves need to be cooked to soften. Lower stems are a bit stringy and should probably be cooked longer than the rest of the plant.

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