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Medicinal, culinary and unusual botanicals from Australia and around the world

Macropiper latifolium – False Kava (plant)

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Macropiper latifolium is a small shrub in the Piperaceae (Pepper) family native to the islands of Polynesia. Once thought to be an ancestor of the modern Kava (Piper methysticum) cultivars.

The false kava of Vanuatu, Macropiper latifolium has been used as a medicine, such as its usage for ethno-gynecological purposes (BOURDY & WALKER 1992) and it is known to be rich in the essential oil beta-asarone in its root (LEBOT & LEVESQUE 1989). Beta-asarone may be a potential candidate for development as a therapeutic agent to manage cognitive impairment associated with conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease Wikipedia. Beta-asarone also occurs in Acorus calamus. The leaves, seeds and the roots produce a numbing effect when chewed. The roots are especially strong, reminiscent of the numb/tingle from Echinacea.

Care and Cultivation of Macropiper latifolium

Macropiper latifolium likes a rich, deep and moist soil in part shade. Drainage should be sharp. Thrives in tropical and sub-tropical situations, unsure of how they will fare in cooler areas and would most likely need protection from cold. Fertilise moderately over the growing season.

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