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Acanth Fact of the Day

A structure called the rentinacula is a modified funiculus that acts like a catapult to launch mature seeds away from the parent plant. This structure is unique and shared among all Acanthaceae in the strict sense.
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As in horticultural uses of Acanthaceae, enthobotanical uses of the family are equally diverse. The interaction between people and the plants they utilize is a broad definition of ethnobotany, but the fulcrum of the discipline revolves around understanding of how subsistence?based cultures use the plants around them to treat common ailments. At present, research in ethnobotany is remarkably sparse. This paucity of research is particularly startling given that: (1) the degree of deforestation occurring in tropical and temperate?tropical areas is jeopardizing the continued use and study of native human?plant interactions; (2) pharmaceutical research that focuses on ethnobotanically important plants has and will continue to have a major impact on the discovery of compounds that combat a range of diseases and disorders; and (3) ethnobotanically important plants and their wide-ranging significance to human cultures could and should provide incentives for countries to provide extended protection of the geographical areas that harbor such plants.

Acanthaceae is an important plant family for native peoples across several continents, especially in terms of medicinal use. In the links provided, case studies are summarized that further our understanding of the close relationships between traditional cultures and their native plants. Though studies are few, it is apparent that, across many cultures and many geographical boundaries, members of Acanthaceae are valued for their remedies to common diseases and discomforts.


The Nandi people of Kenya

The Malayali people of Dharmapuri, India


Scientific Name 
Common Name 
Natively Found 
Eremomastax speciosa
Pang nyemshe
Tropical Africa
Local populations in Cameroon use medicinally; study has shown plant possess chemicals to suppress stomach ulcers. 
Tan, V.P. Nditafon, GN. Yewah, PM. Dimo, T. Ayafor, JF. (1996). Eremomastax speciosa: effects of lead aqueous extract on ulcer formation and gastric secretion in rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 5, 139-142.