Juba’s Bush—Nerve Wist

02 Dec

Iresine diffusa


Looking pretty right now, as it does much of the year, is the pufffy white plant known locally as Juba’s Bush.   You see it here and there, fairly showy.    Look closely, some individuals are more feathery-puffy than others.    The feathery ones are females having seeds covered in white hairs.   The males have tiny white hairless flowers. 

All photos today by John Bradford.

The species is regarded as a minor sources of allergenic pollen, although I’m not sure about wind pollination, given that the flowers are fragrant.   Would be interesting to know what happens pollination-wise.

Female flowers with hairs

OK now, who was Juba, other than a city in Sudan?  Juba I and II were father and son Kings of the ancient North African kingdom of Numidia.   One of the King Jubas named a miraculous medicinal plant “Euphorbia” for his physician Euphorbus.  In somebody’s imagination  Iresine called to mind  Juba’s legendary Euphorbia plant, thus Juba’s Bush.

Male inflorescences

Iresine diffusa itself has quite a medicinal history of its own.   Shift the camera from Numidia to Jamaica.   The discovery of the genus Iresine in a formal botanical sense was in Jamaica in 1756.   Perhaps dating back to indigenous inhabitants,  Jamaica has a long tradition of “root tonics” blended from the roots of several local species.  Some of the tonics are bottled commercially, others more informal. Dr. Sylvia Mitchell at the University of the West Indies studied 38 different tonics.  It turned out that  Iresine diffusa, known locally as “Nerve Wist,” is in most of the tonics, reputed to enhance “male vigor.”   I’d include the label of the main commercial tonic incorporating Nerve Wist, but the brand name and associated imagery are a bit salacious for our nice family blog.


Posted by on December 2, 2022 in Uncategorized


6 responses to “Juba’s Bush—Nerve Wist

  1. Linda Cooper

    December 4, 2022 at 8:26 am

    Enjoyed reading your post about Iresine. It is also the host plant for Hayhurst’s Scallopwing- a very small spreadwing skipper found always in close relationship to its host plant. Linda Cooper

    • George Rogers

      December 6, 2022 at 9:11 am

      Thanks…sole host? Or other Amaranthaceae too? Will keep my eyes open for the scallopwing!

      • Linda Cooper

        December 6, 2022 at 8:56 pm

        I have never seen them where this plant is not in close proximity. My guess is their sole host.

  2. Leonore Alaniz

    December 22, 2022 at 11:22 am

    Hello George, Thank you for sending your essays and photos! Today I am writing because I am in a “pickle”. I looked all over the internet for the grass with seeds I documented by imprinting it on paper. I sold the print to someone who wants to gift it to someone, and like to know what grass it is. Can you identify it? I never took my print work very seriously as a means to document plants. Alas: I get MORE details of certain plants then any photographer would. Am including root systems now too. . 2 photos of the print are attached.. MAY BE you know what this is? I believe I collected the specimen at Coastal Massachusetts. But seem to recall its presence inland as well. Thank you for your reply. If you can identify it, I will mail you a print (copy) of the image. The total image is 11 x 23 “.

    Thank you. Happy holidays! Leonore [image: IMG_2269.JPG] [image: IMG_2267.JPG]

    • George Rogers

      December 22, 2022 at 12:01 pm

      Well hi there Leonore…great to hear from you! Having trouble opening the image…try email to Warning VERY VERY rusty on New England plants.

  3. Leonore

    December 22, 2022 at 11:27 am

    There is sooo much precious palnt life on this planet. And all interdependent with critters.


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