Language is for Plant Lovers
Language is for Plant Lovers

Episode 8 · 6 months ago

Spilanthes - Acmella oleracea - A mouth-watering episode


In this episode, we are going to explore the tree commonly referred to as Spilanthes, otherwise known as its Latin botanical names, Acmella oleracea and Spilanthes acmella. Don't spill this mouth-watering tea - you'll want to drink it all for the experience. 

***Please consult your doctor before ingesting plants medicinally, and ensure that you have proper identification of all plants before foraging*** - eco-conscious art by Ren Elizabeth - free garden planner signup - support this podcast - join me on Twitter

In this episode, you'll learn:

  • Physical characteristics of Spilanthes
  • The fascinating sharp etymology of the word Acmella
  • The way green vegetables growing might be related to scent (maybe)
  • The reasons why you might want to eat this plant before a spicy mealReferences sourced when creating this episode:

general Spilanthes information 

more general Spilanthes information  

yet more general Spilanthes information 

obligatory wikipedia article on Spilanthes 

more information on Spilanthes with links to further information 

scientific study on Spilanthes - 1 

scientific study on Spilanthes - 2 

scientific study on Spilanthes - 3 

scientific study on Spilanthes - 4 

ways Spilanthes/jambú is utilized in Brazilian cuisine 

general maenad information 

Achilles etymology 

spiloma definition 

acne etymology 

akme definition 

acme as a business name 

holus in Latin 

holeraceus in Latin 

olere in Latin 

In this episode we are going to explore the plant commonly referred to as Spilanthe's, otherwise known as its botanical names Acamella, Aluricia and or spilanthe's Acamella. So yes, this plant is known by two names with a different genus, quote unquote first name for both of those, and will of course, be exploring the etymology of both names. You definitely don't want to spill your spilanthis t though, but you might want to Gargle it and spit it out. You have to stay tuned to learn more. SPELANTHY's ACAMELLA. To clarify, that is spell spiel an th G S Acmala, and we also have ACAMELLA alorasia, acmyla O L ar ACA. As a refresher botanical name is made up of two words, typically in Latin or Greek, where the quote unquote first name is the genus and the second name is the species, a description of the beautiful spelanthis plants. So when you look at a spilanthe's plant, the flower head is shaped like a thimble with an ombre yellow to red coloration. Sometimes even the top part of the plant is a Magenta red color and then the inflorescences go from Yellow and back to Magenta, purple reddish color again. So inflorescences are these little clusters of flowers that are on one singular stock or singular head. If you've seen the yellow center of camemial or even of a daisy, there's that similar inflorescence where it could be confused for being one entity. But then as you look closer, you see that it's many little flowers all in one cluster. It's Bilanthe's is also known as the toothache plant, paracrasts Ting flowers and electric daisy. Its origin is in South America and in Brazil it is known as gem boom. The names of tooth and toothache plant and Ting in the Ting flowers refer to the numbing sensation and mouth feel, the zingi sensation of the flower buds. Before we dive into different ways that this plant has traditionally been utilized, I'd like to remind you that I'm not a doctor and everything here is for educational purposes only. This isn't a medical advice. Please talk to your doctor for that, and also remember that...

...proper identification is essential before wild crafting and foraging. One of the traditional uses of Spilanthis, as you can probably tell by being called the toothache plant, is to have some support for tooth pain before you're able to get to a dentist. So the key ingredient in spelanthis that produces this numbing effect is called Spilanthal. In various studies, and you'll see those linked in the show notes, it is said to be anti inflammatory, anti microbial, insecticidal and antioxidant and even anti cancer. It's also a Solagog, which is just a fancy word for saying that it induces the production of saliva for a literally mouth watering effect due to the antibacterial effects. You might see, spilanthy's added to toothpaste and because of its affinity for the mouth, it can be applied as a oral pain killer and also as a mouthwash, which is why you might want to Gargle with it. And then you could. You probably could swallow it, but you awesome. They want to spit it out so that it doesn't numb your mouth so much. So even with this tingling, mouth numbing, buzzing, popping sensation that spilanthis produces, it sounds kind of intense, but in various cultures, spilanthis is included in recipes. So in some Brazilian cepiece, the tinkling sensation is said to actually support you in eating spicy foods or in in eating a meal that is more spicy than you might normally request. So you can have the leaves raw and Salads, you can have them cooked as a green. In Brazil they are added to shrimp or duck based stews. There is also a really interesting beverage called CASHASSA, which is a hard alcohol made with sugarcane and then infused with the jamboo leaves or, for more intensity, the Jamboo or spilanthy's flower. So essentially, a shot of this would be like taking a whole one ounce tincture jar of spelanthe's tincture at once. I can't imagine the sensation that would occur with this beverage. According to an article that I read on Matador Network, which is of course linked in the show notes, any shots of this beverage are apparently easier to handle the more you drink on a given night, which makes sense. It would kind of Numb your mouth from the numbing sensation over time. On a nutritional level, spelanthis does add vitamin C two dishes in India. Spilanthis is also used for flavoring and can be found in chewing tobacco, and spilanthe's is also an ingredient in Thailand, where the leaves are included in certain curries. So I bought some spilanthees, I don't know, maybe a year ago, just you know, it's called toothache plant, and dental concerns are something that you can never be too prepared for. Yes, and I have had nibbles of the...

...flower every once in a while, just when I become curious. But but, knock on wood, I haven't had any dental pain. So I thought what better way to describe the taste of spilanthis to you all and to make myself a nice batch of a spilanthis infusion? So what I did was I took a healthy table spoon of spilanthis and I have been steeping it in hot water since this podcast began. Essentially, I'm kind of curious, so I'm going to try some. Okay, so it's slightly bitter. It's like a little savory as well, I would say, which is maybe a strange way to describe a herbal infusion. Shin bump. That's the description that comes to mind. So as a tea right now, you know, this has been steeping for about fifteen minutes and they made it pretty strong. It doesn't have as much of a tingling or a numbing sensation and my mouth I'm definitely salivating more. That happened pretty immediately, so that will make for some interesting mouth sounds for me to edit out when I added this podcast. Right now in my cup I have this pilanthis flower, so I'm going to see if that produces the numbing effect. One thing I'm wondering is if the numbing and tingling sensation is reduced over time. So I would imagine that a fresh spilanthis plant would have a more intense numbing and tingling and popping and electric, as it's called electric daisy sensation and mouth feel. So I wonder if not only is this dried, but I also have had it in my Pantry, granted in a sealed space that is away from light, but still I wonder if that has reduced its electricity, so speak. So okay, I've got a flower. I'm going to try it and see what it's like. I'm I so I just bit on the flower and in the area of my mouth, which was on my tongue, where most of the juice was going from, you know, because the flowers soaked up with the water from the teeth. Definitely feels almost like that sensation of mint where mint is very bright in the mouth. This is that, but like times twenty in terms of brightness. It doesn't I want to say it's like a menthol kind of taste necessarily, but it reminds me of that a little bit, where there's that spark from the mint and my tongue is definitely a little bit numb. I've tried biting it, not hard but just a little bit, and I don't really feel it that much. But I also don't want to intentionally like chop off part of my tongue. I'm going to try and hold some of the leaves in my mouth as well and see if it's the same. So yeah, for me, with this Cup of teeth that I have, the flower is where most of that numbing is coming from. Most of that what I would imagine pain relieving, mouth watering sensation comes from the leaves. Aren't I mean like the taste good? I could see why it would be why the leaves are ingredients in a lot of different recipes make. They're they're pretty good. It's it's a really interesting taste. So, okay, now that I had bit on a dollar the tea water, the infusion itself feels more electric, more like...

...there's my lower of lit is kind of vibrating. It's like there's definitely that tingling sensation that is happening in my mouth and there's like this pulsing sensation happening in my lower lit. So I think I'm going to have one more spoonful this because it does taste good. It's a really interesting experience and mouth feel. But you've got to get to the Latin and the anomology of this plant. Okay. Well, definitely something to try if you can find spilantheus tea. I bought this Pilanthe's tea from revery hearths. They are based out of Idaho. Their quality of just all of their either their seinctures and there are both teas are really fantastic. All right, it's time for the NYMOLOGY. The first word that I want to look at with you is the word alaraca. So ACAMELA ALARICIA is one of the botanical names for spelanthees. In the word Alarycia is from the Latin holarycs, holar a ceus, so in botanical scientific naming, alaca refers to something that is a vegetable or an herb. This is probably something where, if you've looked at the Latin or at the botanical names of plants before, you've probably seen this word Luisia as the quote unquote, last name or second names for plants that are traditionally worked with in herbal medicine. I have to admit, though, that until recently I had thought that Aluisia referred to the plant having a sense, as in the word O Lareol are in Spanish, which means to smell and when something is fragrant, for better for worse. The Spanish word for that is olearusome. So in Latin, Holis Holu as, and am pronouncing the h there. We're going to talk about that in just a second. Means Vegetable, specifically something that is herbaceous or even an herb itself. This word holist comes from the Proto Indo, European word meaning green thing, like literally green thing. I love that, and is related to our words in English for gold, yellow and Gaul, which is interesting to think of gold as having that green tint to it, but when you really think about it, it does all us. You hear that in gold and in yellow and in Gaul. So this slatin word Pulis has an h at the beginning. So in Spanish a letter H is written in words but it's never pronounced. So for example, a Lah or hello is spelled Chola and that H is not pronounced. In classical Latin the letter H was pronounced, so coleus. But in more recent Latin, more recent being, you know, the past two tho years or so, the letter h the sound was dropped. So from their Spanish and French evolved and the h letter is present but the sound was dropped. So if... were curious as to why layer is in this word Ourisia, which I guess in classical Latin would be Hollerricia, Olio. OL EO in Latin does mean to smell, but it also means to grow or to rise. So a green thing would be a plant that would be growing or rising. But well, I couldn't find a definite connection between the two. I think that maybe if there is a connection, that has to do with a fragrance rising when you waft, a fragrance or ascent rising into the nostrils, and so I wonder if they are indeed related to this word to grow, to be a green thing and to smell. Maybe I don't know. It's one of those things where either I'm just think about this too much and maybe this isn't an actual connection, or maybe there is a connection and I just wasn't able to find it by scouring the Internet. All right, next word, acamella. ACAMELA, ACM ellla comes from the Greek word Acme Akne, meaning the highest point, also the edge or the peak. We have this word in English, Acme. Quite often businesses are named acne, or at least in the Coyote and road runner cartoons, as a reference to highest quality and performance. I learned that when phone books were starting to become a thing, businesses named themselves acme so that they would show up at the top of the list alphabetically. An ancient Greek acne also meant peak, as in maturity in terms of age, as a way to reference people who were around the age of forty. This was a time of peak creativity. According to the Greeks. So if you are like me and approaching forty, you can think of this as your time of peak creativity, that you're reaching your age of acne. This word acne is related to the Latin word Acert, meaning acute or sharp a sirs, the name of a computer company from my nerds out there, and the sharpness may refer to the tingling or prickly sensation of the spelling at these plant when it numbs the mouth. As I can attest you right now as I record this podcast. Sharpness is also connected to intelligence and Astuteness, which is why it is also a word meaning maturity. In ancient Greek, acne is also the word where acne comes into play. The etymology of those word for pimples can be traced to one thousand eight, hundred and thirteen, where the pimples are pointed, cause a sharp pain and rise out from the skin. Coincidentally, spilanthis can be applied topically to help soothe acne, so that might be a good way to remembered the enimological and the medicinal connections between spilanthis and your skin. You know that I love Greek mythology and we do have a connection with the Word Acne in myth. So acne is the name...

...of a nymph. A nymph is a nature spirit. There isn't that much information about her, which was shocking to me, because there is a very famous mosaic of this Nymph, acne, in Cyprus, and it's so famous that it was on the currency from Cyprus recently. Acne is pictured as a companion to dionysis in a scene that also includes a carrious. She is a Manad Nymph, and the May nads were the top its static worshippers of Dionysus who were shipped through drinking, as dionysis was the god of wine, and they also worshiped by having fun, being jovial and partying. The name of the hero Achilles, may also have come from this word Acmeme, in a way where the name Achilles could mean sharp footed. So acme means sharpness, a peak, a point, and there's actually a lot of interesting etymology in the name Achilles, but maybe I'll save that for an episode on the ACHILIA genus of plants. In English, spelanthis means stained flower, spelloma means stain in Greek and aunt these anthos means flower. The MAGENTA pollen at the peak of the plant looks like it could be a stain. Perhaps maybe it looks like a birth mark, and Speloma is also an old medical term that you might find for birth mark. The suffix Oma that you hear in Speloma may be familiar to you, as it is the ending of many medical terms, specifically ones related to a mass or a tumor. It doesn't necessarily need to be cancrous to have this suffix. Oftentimes it's benign condition that has this Oma suffix. While my friends having spelanthis tea and having to speak for, I don't know, it was probably fifteen minutes. Additionally, after after drinking the tea, has cost me to be a little tongue tied. So that's Today's episode. If your mouth is as Numb as mine, you might end up spilling your spelling these tea just by drilling it out of your mouth. And I would definitely have the tea again, just maybe not right before I record a podcast. Two.

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