What is it?
Also known as Abuta, this is a slender climber. Flowers are small in size, pedicels filiform. Male flowers clustered in the axil of a small leaf. Seeds are horseshoe-shaped.
Where does it live?
Distribution: In moist and disturbed areas throughout Puerto Rico. Also on Culebra, Vieques, St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, and Tortola; of pantropical distribution.
Why is it here?
As with many of the plants in these boxes, Colorín is a woody vine native to the island of Puerto Rico. According to a 2014 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture such vines are thriving in the era of climate change, also known as the Anthropocene. As conditions have changed (drier summer months, warming trends that affect the timing of flowering and fruiting plants, etc…), these vines have begun to supplant larger native trees. The resulting loss of overall biomass has meant less Carbon Dioxide (CO2) captured by the fauna of the island, and thus more CO2 in the atmosphere, and thus faster climate change. Think of these plants as yet another “canary in the coal mine” of global warming, symbolic of changes taking place all over the globe. We have turned our thoughts toward Puerto Rico specifically in response to the Ghost Fishing anthology and its call for “eco-justice.” Hurricane intensity and frequency is on the rise as the planet warms. The same social, political and economic systems that have energized those storms has already ensured- through a long legacy of colonialism and racism- that they will land hardest on those least responsible for climate change. Hurricanes Sandy and Maria are exhibits A and B in the case for fighting for eco-justice. We hope you will not forget this, and that you will join in that fight.
Cissampelos Pareira is used in Chinese herbology, where it is called xí shēng téng(Chinese: 锡生藤) or (Chinese: 亞乎奴). The species is also called laghu patha in Ayurvedic medicine. In Tamil Nadu it is called ponmusutai and it is used for a number of medicinal purposes. Some attention has been paid to it in Kenya, Tanzania, and other places for its purported antimalarial properties in particular, as well as in India for its antiviral properties, especially against Dengue virus