The gorgeous yellow trumpet bush, locally known as retama, grows wild in La Yacata. It’s a favorite of hummingbirds, so I always am delighted when it sprouts up in the backyard. My husband, not so much. He says it’s only good to make tea to stimulate the appetite and that it’s a horrible tea to drink, speaking from experience.
That couldn’t be all this lovely plant was capable of, so off I went to track down its medicinal properties. The botanical name is Tecoma stans and it is native to the Americas. It is drought-resistant and prefers rocky soil, which makes La Yacata an excellent habitat for it. Throughout Mexico, it is known by many names including flor amarillo, Hierba de San Pedro, Palo de arco, and tronadora.
In Nahuatl, it was known as tecoma xóchitl (flower in the form of a vase), Candox, Nixtamal Xóchitl and used medicinally by the Aztecs. In Maya, it is K’anlol or Xk’anol.
In Mexico, traditional remedies still use the stems, flowers, leaves, branches, bark and root of this plant to cure. An infusion of the flower stems is given to reduce the effects of a hangover. Tea made from the roots is prescribed as a diuretic. The leaves are used to make a decoction drunk before breakfast for nine days to treat gonorrhea.
To treat whooping cough, a decoction is made from the leaves of the retama, cabbage rose petals, and stems of tasajo cactus. Retama is also included in remedies to treat adult onset diabetes. The leaves and flowers are used to treat the common cold, fever, headache, kidney problems and jaundice. The flowers and leaves are also applied externally as a poultice to treat skin infections. A tea made from the flowers is made to calm menstrual cramps.
The leaves and flowers have both antibacterial and antifungal properties. It has a high level of pancreatic lipase inhibitory activity, making it an effective treatment for diabetes. The flowers are nephroprotective, making it an accessible treatment for kidney issues.
It certainly seems a useful plant to have around!
Interested in natural remedies? Uncover herbal remedies from traditional Mexican sources for healing and wellness in the Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico series.