Bahamas Postal Service

The Bahamas

12 November 2020

Medicinal Plants

Bahamas” Medicinal Plants of The Bahamas, 12 November 2020. Images from Commonwealth Stamps Opinion Blog.

Technical Specifications:

Date of Issue:  12 November 2020
Designer: Bee Design
Photography: Dr Ethan Freid
Printing Method: Offset lithography
Printer: Cartor Security Printing
Perforations: 13½ x 13
Denominations: 15¢, 25¢, 50¢, 65¢, 70¢, $1

15¢ — Callicarpa hitchockii:

Callicarpa (beautyberry) is a genus of shrubs and small trees in the family Lamiaceae. They are native to east and southeast Asia (where the majority of the species occur), Australia, Madagascar, southeast North America and South America.

The temperate species are deciduous, the tropical species evergreen. The leaves are simple, opposite, and 5–25 cm long. The flowers are in clusters, white to pinkish. The fruit is a berry, 2–5 mm diameter and pink to red-purple with a highly distinctive metallic lustre, are very conspicuous in clusters on the bare branches after the leaves fall. The berries last well into the winter or dry season and are an important survival food for birds and other animals, though they will not eat them until other sources are depleted. The berries are highly astringent but are made into wine and jelly. Callicarpa species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Endoclita malabaricus and Endoclita undulifer.

Familiar species:

  • American beautyberry Callicarpa americana is native to the southeastern United States. It can typically reach 1 to 2 meters in height. A jelly can be made from its ripe berries. Ornamental varieties of Callicarpa americana have been bred to have pink or white berries.
  • Bodinier’s beautyberry Callicarpa bodinieri, native to west-central China (Sichuan, Hubei, Shaanxi), is more cold-tolerant than C. americana, and is the species most widely cultivated in northwestern Europe. It can reach 3 meters tall.
  • Japanese beautyberry Callicarpa japonica, native to Japan, is also cultivated in gardens. It is called Murasakishikibu in Japanese, in honor of Murasaki Shikibu.
  • Purple beautyberry Callicarpa dichotoma, native to Japan, China, and Korea.

25¢ — Argemone mexicana:

Argemone mexicana (Mexican poppy, Mexican prickly poppy, flowering thistle, cardo or cardosanto) is a species of poppy found in Mexico and now widely naturalized in many parts of the world. An extremely hardy pioneer plant, it is tolerant of drought and poor soil, often being the only cover on new road cuttings or verges. It has bright yellow latex. It is poisonous to grazing animals, and it is rarely eaten, but it has been used medicinally by many peoples, including those in its native area, as well as the Natives of the western US, parts of Mexico and many parts of India. In India, during the colorful festival Holika Dahan, adults and children worship by offering flowers, and this species is in its maximum flowering phase during March when the Holi festival is celebrated. It is also referred to as “kateli ka phool” in India.

50¢ — Guaiacum sanctum:

Guaiacum sanctum, commonly known as holywood or holywood lignum-vitae, is a species of flowering plant in the creosote bush family, Zygophyllaceae. It is native to tropical America, from Mexico through Central America, Florida, the Caribbean, and northern South America. It has been introduced to other tropical areas of the world. It is currently threatened by habitat loss in its native region.

Guaiacum sanctum is the national tree of the Bahamas.

This tree is one of two species which yield the valuable Lignum vitae wood, the other being Guaiacum officinale. The wood has been used for making specific parts of ships that needed to be self-lubricating so that they would last longer.

The tree is considered to have medicinal value, used mostly for home remedies. The naturalist William Turner noted in 1568 that the plant was already being grown in India, Tamraparni (ancient Sri Lanka), Java and the Tivu islets of the ocean, and whose broth cured several harsh diseases, including French pox (Syphilis). The bark can be steeped to create tonics. It is also used as an ornamental plant.

65¢ — Picramnia pentandra:

Picramnia, the bitterbushes, is a genus of plant considered to be in the family Picramniaceae, but sometimes placed in Simaroubaceae. The name is conserved against the genera Pseudo-brasilium Adans., and Tariri Aubl., both which have been rejected (nomen rejiciendum).

70¢ — Tabebuia bahamensis:

Tabebuia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Bignoniaceae. The common name “roble” is sometimes found in English. Tabebuias have been called “trumpet trees”, but this name is usually applied to other trees and has become a source of confusion and misidentification.

Tabebuia consists almost entirely of trees, but a few are often large shrubs. A few species produce timber, but the genus is mostly known for those that are cultivated as flowering trees.

Tabebuia is native to the American tropics and subtropics from Mexico and the Caribbean to Argentina. Most of the species are from Cuba and Hispaniola. It is commonly cultivated and often naturalized or adventive beyond its natural range. It easily escapes cultivation because of its numerous, wind-borne seeds.

Some species of Tabebuia have been grown as honey plants by beekeepers.

Tabebuia heteropoda, Tabebuia incana, and other species are occasionally used as an additive to the entheogenic drink Ayahuasca.

Pau d’arco is promoted as a treatment for a number of human ailments, including cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, “available evidence from well-designed, controlled studies does not support this substance as an effective treatment for cancer in humans”, and using it risks harmful side-effects.

Extracts of Tabebula impetiginosa have shown strong potency in fighting multiple bacterial and fungal diseases, like antibiotic resistant staph aureus.

$1 — Caesalpinia vesicaria:

Caesalpinia is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae. Historically, membership within the genus has been highly variable, with different publications including anywhere from 70 to 165 species, depending largely on the inclusion or exclusion of species alternately listed under genera such as Hoffmannseggia. It contains tropical or subtropical woody plants. The generic name honours the botanist, physician, and philosopher Andrea Cesalpino (1519–1603).

The name Caesalpinaceae at family level, or Caesalpinioideae at the level of subfamily, is based on this generic name.


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