Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Dracontium (tajá de cobra)

The common name for the dracontium plant here in this part of the Amazon is tajá de cobra, which translates into "snake's caladium". Both dracontiums and caladiums belong to the Araceae family, the so called air plants. They are prominent in the rainy season but die back during the dry months. The association between the plant and a snake is that the stem looks very much like the skin of the much dreaded jararaca snake (fer-de-lance), Bothrops jararaca. This snake accounts for approximately 85% of the poisonous snakebites reported in the Amazon. I've never heard of anyone using this plant for treatment of snakebites but that could be because the Bosque is located on the edge of a relatively large city- only 25 minutes by vehicle to the municipality hospital, where anti-venom medicines are available. In very remote inaccessible areas, my guess is that it is one of the local remedies used for the occasion. Literature confirms this supposition.

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