Weeds of Wednesday: Cure-for-All

Donna Winter (Class of 2016) shared the photos above cure-for-all (Pluchea carolinensis), a plant that we saw at the Winter Beach Salt Marsh on a field trip on 3/8/2020 led by Dave Fuss, Indian River Land Trust Director of Stewardship.  This plant is related to native sweetscent (Pluchea odorata), also known as saltmarsh fleabane, and is shown below volunteering in the restored marsh …

Also commonly called bushy fleabane, sourbush, stinky fleabane, cattletongue, curry plant, and wild tobacco, cure-for-all is non-native and considered to be an aggressive and invasive plant in Hawaii and the Pacific, where its introduction is thought to be related to World War !! air bases.  Cure-for-all is said to be native to Mexico, the West Indies, Bermuda, and the northern part of South America.

This perennial plant was characterized as non-native and weedy by JK Small in the early 1900’s.  Wind disbursed seeds (achenes) allow it to rapidly colonize and thrive in disturbed sites.

Cure-for-all grows to be from 3 to 12′ tall, larger than sweetscent.  Its flowers range from very pale pink to lavender and appear in the winter and early spring.  Its alternate leaves are stalked, granular, and hairy.

The common name cure-for-all refers to its medicinal uses in a variety of forms:  dried powders, fresh plants and oil estracts.  It is said to treat many ailments including malaria, uterine fibroids, fever, sore throats, stomach problems, wounds, and skin ulcer.  Laboratory testing has confirmed its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Cure-for-all, however, is not a plant that you wish for in a salt marsh restoration.

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