• Barbara Denny

Herbs to Grow 7

Spilanthes (Toothache plant)

Acmella oleracea, Asteraceae. This striking plant has golden, globe-shaped flowers with a red center, leading one seed company to market them as “eyeball plant.” Spilanthes is an interesting plant to behold and to taste! It is one of the strongest sialagogues (saliva-promoters) I know; even a tiny nibble from one of the flowers will set your mouth to drool. The tingly numbing sensation affords relief to toothaches, and is used in many tooth and gum formulas, as it is anti-microbial, stimulating, and acts as an oral anodyne. All the aboveground parts are medicinal, and can be chewed fresh in moderation or made into a tincture. I often put it into formulas with Echinacea as an immune stimulant for augmenting the body’s internal defenses against the common colds and flu. Spilanthes is grown as an annual, plant it in average to rich soil and full sun; water during dry spells. It grows to 1’ tall, space 1’ apart. Direct sow after danger of frost has passed or sow in the greenhouse for a head start. Toothache plant easily transplants and will self-sow if you don’t mulch too heavily. The self-sown sprouts take their time coming up—I don’t usually see them until June here in the southern Appalachians, so you may want to start the seeds fresh every year to get a head start on the season. You can cut harvest the plants a few times during the growing season—cut the plants back to 6 inches, and if there’s still time left before frost, they will regrow nicely. Protect the plants from slugs, as they will devour it—slug candy, indeed! Spilanthes is one of the easiest to grow medicinal herbs, and kids absolutely love it! One to two plants will yield over a quart of tincture.

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© 2015 by Serenity Acres Farm                                               Barbara J. Denny                                               York, SC                                     (803) 209-2806