Justicia pectoralis var. stenophylla – Mashi Hiri (plant)
A member of the Acanthaceae family from tropical and warms zones of South America. Justicia pectoralis also occurs in Central America and the Caribbean islands, but the variety stenophylla only occurs in South America.It is an herb to 30cm tall.
The dried leaves are used by South American Indian tribes, primarily as an additive to the hallucinogenic snuff, epena, made from the bark resin of a number of Virola species. The leaves develop a rich, sweet smell as they dry due to the formation of large quantities of coumarins. While they make the snuff smell better, it is also thought that the alkaloids Betaine and Umbelliferone enhance the nasal mucousa’s ability to absorb other alkaloids in the snuff.
It was previously thought that Justicia pectoralis var. stenophylla contained tryptamines, but this has since been refuted by several studies.
Care and Cultivation of Justicia pectoralis var. stenophylla
Justicia pectoralis var. stenophylla likes rich and moist soil in a shady position, do not place in full sun, always keep shaded. Those plants placed in too much sun tend to turn yellow or purplish indicating too much sun! Trim after flowering to encourage new healthy growth. Leaves turn purplish also in cold periods. Frost sensitive.