Hippobroma longiflora

Hippobroma longiflora, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Divisio: Magnoliophyta
Classis: Magnoliopsida
Ordo: Asterales
Familia: Campanulaceae
Subfamilia: Lobelioideae
Genus: Hippobroma
Species: Hippobroma longiflora

Synonyms
Isotoma longiflora

Hippobroma longiflora

Hippobroma longiflora (also called Star of Bethlehem, not to be confused with other species by that name) is a flowering plant in the Campanulaceae family. It is endemic to the West Indies, but has become naturalized across the American tropics and Oceania.[1]

It is notable for its concentrations of two pyridine alkaloids: lobeline and nicotine. The effects of nicotine and lobeline are quite similar, with psychoactive effects at small dosages and with unpleasant effects including vomiting, muscle paralysis, and trembling at higher dosages.[2] For this reason, H. longiflora (and its various synonyms) is often referenced for both its toxicity and its ethnobotanical uses.

When pulling this weed, it is important to wear gloves: the sap is an irritant which can be absorbed through the skin, and a small amount of sap in the eyes can cause blindness.
References

^ USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. "Hippobroma Longiflora information from GPRS/GRIN". Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland.. Retrieved 2007-12-07.
^ Baldwin, Roger E. (1979) [1979]. Hawaii's Poisonous Plants (1 ed.). Hilo, Hawaii: The Petroglyph Press, Ltd.. pp. 26–27. ISBN 0-912180-34-X.

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