Longfruit Primrose-Willow, Did Ponce de Leon Stomp Over the Fountain of Youth?

08 Oct
Longfruit Primrose-Willow, Did Ponce de Leon Stomp Over the Fountain of Youth?

Ludwigia octovalvis

Onagraceae, Evening-Primrose Family

Today John, John’s wife Dee, and I visited the Smithsonian Marine Ecosystems exhibit in Ft. Pierce, complete with a Pipefish with a bent snout, Barnacles on video monitor, pregnant male Seahorses, and tons more.  So much fun, so much to learn.  I wanna be a marine biologist!

How does a salty jaunt tie in with a native plant blog?   Easy…immortality.  We learned about how certain jellyfish are sort of immortal, which is no BFD in the green world if you like cloning.

But humans aren’t green and we don’t clone yet, and I’ve heard we get old, but maybe Longfruit Primrose-Willow will help add some quality time shooting hoops with the great-great-grandchildren.   A bit of a stretch,  but read on anyhow.  Let’s get to know the plant before visiting the botanical fountain of youth.

Longfruit Evening Primrose by John Bradford

We see a lot of Longfruit Primrose-Willow around town, usually as a semi-woody shrub typically 4-5 feet tall along muddy shores and in wet ditches. Blooming as we speak.   Its bright yellow flowers have four ephemeral petals, and long cigarette-shaped seedpods.    The name “octovalvis,” refers to the eight segments (valves) left behind after the fruit splits apart to release a whole lot of micro-seeds.   Native to Florida, it is found all over the tropical world, with its natural vs. “introduced” ranges long lost in history.   In Asia, Africa, and elsewhere the plant is a ricefield pest yet at the same time valued as a source of food and medicines.

Zillions of plants around the world have been used forever to address every medical need in the human conditions.   This over-stuffed topic gets boringly and redundantly unrealistic, even when there are modern claims of anti-bacterial, anti-diabetic, or anti-tumor activities. Some actually do work of course, but the many false promises funnel down painfully to precious few viable outcomes. (Sort of like, as we learned today by the sea, one mother lobster generates a few hundred thousand babies, only to have a handful grow into big proud lobsters.)

Lots of plants claim to ease childbirth, relieve a crummy in the tummy, restore male mojo, or salve a rash,  but who ever heard of anti-aging plants,  having, no less, modern scientifically tested and explained effects?   The Evening-Primrose Family would be a good place to look, as is members bestow beneficial compounds found in human milk (a path to farmable bovineless “milk”?) and agents that suppress human digestive enzymes (control of dietary-digestive disorders?).

Okay, but what about that anti-aging?  In 2013 biochemist W. Lin and colleagues found Ludwigia octovalvis to extend the lives of fruitflies, and get this,  on a high calorie diet.  Even better, it prevented fruit fly senile cognitive decline.  My only question is, how do you measure a fruit fly’s cognitive ability?  Maybe its ability to tell a breadfruit from a jackfruit.   Extending to our murine kin, Ludwigia octovalvis did the same for elderly mice.


Posted by on October 8, 2021 in Uncategorized


2 responses to “Longfruit Primrose-Willow, Did Ponce de Leon Stomp Over the Fountain of Youth?

  1. Diane Goldberg

    October 9, 2021 at 9:11 am

    How do you tell the difference between the L. octovalvis & Ludwigia peruviana?

    • George Rogers

      October 9, 2021 at 9:26 am

      Peruviana is much fuzzier, and its ovay and fruit, instead of cigarette shaped, are 4-sided, short and stubby like a pyramid


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