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Argyreia nervosa ‘HBWR’ (plant)
Argyreia nervosa is a climbing vine from the Convolvulaceae family which has approx 1650 species worldwide, which also includes the genera Ipomoea (Morning Glory) and Merremia (Hawaiian Woodrose) amongst others. A large vine in tropical and subtropical conditions which has large heart-shaped leaves, pink-purple flowers followed by a rose shaped dry capsule after which its common name is taken. Argyreia comes from a Greek word meaning silver and describes the silvery colour of the underside of the leaves from a fine covering of hairs. Argyreia nervosa is commonly known as Hawaiian Baby Woodrose (HBWR).
Synonyms include; Argyreia speciosa, Convolvulus nervosus, Convolvulus speciosus, Lettsomia nervosa and Argyreia nervosa var. nervosa.
Many members of the family are used medicinally and for divination purposes (for example, Rivea corymbosa, Stictocardia tiliifolia and Ipomoea violacea). Ipomoea batatas (Sweet Potato) is a family member used for food production. Ipomoea costata is an Australian species used by Aboriginals as a carbohydrate source from its large underground tubers. Many are also used as purgatives, containing glycoresins in the leaves and roots. Compounds of the ergot type also cause muscle contraction and have been used in certain situations and problems associated with pregnancy. Causing uterine contractions, they should be avoided by pregnant women.
Argyreia nervosa has been present in Queensland for over 90 years, probably as an escapee from a garden. An extinct native Argyreia species, Argyreia souteri, described by Bailey from the holotype at Johnstone River, North Queensland (Bailey 1890), may in fact have been A. nervosa, possibly making it a ‘native’ species. Considering the capsules are buoyant in water and appear to be the main distribution factor, it may have spread from other areas around the pacific before white settlement of Australia.
Whilst considered somewhat troublesome in some dry tropical areas, Argyreia nervosa doesn’t appear to be at risk of becoming a noxious weed. Seedlings are generally not seen en masse around parent vines. It is grazed by cattle and is non toxic to livestock.
Seeds of Argyreia nervosa contain up to 0.3% Lysergic Acid Amides (LSA) and are the compounds responsible for the hallucinogenic activity noted. These compounds include chanoclavine, ergometrine, ergine and lysergol. Argyreia species are used in traditionally in Ayurvedic Medicine for various complaints.
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Care and Cultivation of Argyreia nervosa
Argyreia nervosa is a large vine in tropical and subtropical conditions which has large heart-shaped leaves, pink-purple flowers followed by a rose shaped dry capsule after which its common name is taken. Likes adequate water and a full-sun to part-shade position in well drained soil.
Typically a tropical species, it grows well in sub-tropical situations from Brisbane to Byron Bay. Reports of it also surviving in Port Macquarie (halfway between Brisbane and Sydney) and Sydney are known. It is expected it would need to be kept either inside or in a warm position over the colder months from locations south of Sydney.
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