Jamaican Dogwood

By jayeshpatil912 [CC-BY-2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Piscidia piscipulaJamaican Dogwood

Other names: Fish Poison Tree, Fish fuddle tree, Ichthyomethia piscipula (L.) Hitchc. ex Sarg., Piscidia erythrina

Habitat: W. Indies and S. America. Jamaican Dogwood grows in coastal zones.

hazardsmallAs this plant is considered to be poisonous it is best to be only used under the guidance of a professional practitioner.

Piscidia-piscipula,Jamaican-dogwoodDescription of Jamaican Dogwood:

Piscidia erythrina; Jamaican dogwood is a  deciduous tree of medium size with heights of 12 to 15 m and bole diameters of 46 to 118 cm. An irregular, open crown develops with stout, erect branches. Five to 11 leaflets (each 4 to 8 cm long) are present in an opposite arrangement. Leaflets are dark green above and distinctly paler grayish-green below with pubescence.

Likes well drained sandy soils. Can grow in Sandy or Loamy soils. Ph tolerant Acid,neutral,alkaline,very alkaline. Can tolerate brackish water. Can tolerate maritime exposure. Needs full sun

Jamaican Dogwood Bark

Cultivation of Jamaican Dogwood:

It prefers well-drained sandy soils, with a top layer of humus. The tree has some tolerance to short-term storm surges of brackish water or seawater. Although it grows in coastal conditions, the tree is usually protected from direct salt spray by adjoining vegetation. Established trees are highly tolerant of drought. Its sensitivity to the cold limits jamaican dogwood to areas no colder than plant hardiness zone 11.

Propagation of Jamaican Dogwood:

After removal from the ripe pod, seeds will germinate in 8 to 10 days when sown about 6 mm deep in moist soil.Until seedlings become well established, they should be fertilized and watered. Cuttings placed in moist soil quickly sprout roots. In fact, rooting has been observed to occur so readily that posts made from fresh timber occasionally take root unintentionally.

Collection: The bark is collected in vertical strips from trees growing in the Caribbean, Mexico and Texas.

Culinary uses of Jamaican Dogwood:

Jamaican_dogwood,Piscidia_erythrina,Medicinal uses of Jamaican Dogwood:

Actions: Nervine, anodyne, anti-spasmodic.

Part Used: Stem bark.

Indications: Jamaican Dogwood is a powerful sedative, used in its West Indian homeland as a fish poison. Whilst not being poisonous to humans, the given dosage level should not be exceeded. The bark has an unpleasant odor and a distinctly acrid and bitter taste, causing a burning sensation in the mouth. It is a powerful remedy for the treatment of painful conditions such as neuralgia and migraine. It can also be used in the relief of ovarian and uterine pain. Its main use is perhaps in insomnia where this is due to nervous tension or pain.

Ellingwood considered that “the agent, in doses from half a drachm to a drachm, will produce quiet and restful sleep, when the insomnia is due to nervous excitement, mental worry or anxiety, and in elderly patients, neurasthenics and children.” In addition he recommends it for the following patholgies: pain, general distress, inflammatory fever, rheumatism, spasmodic cough, bronchitis, phthisis, dysmenorrhoea, intestinal colic, gall-stone colic, renal colic, labor pains, facial neuralgia, ovarian neuralgia, sleeplessness, delirium, hysteria, toothache.

Combinations: For the ease of insomnia it is best combined with Hops & Valerian. For dysmenorrhoea it may be used with Black Haw.

Preparations & Dosage:

Decoction: put 1 teaspoonful of the root in a cup of water, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk when needed.

Tincture; take 1-2 ml of the tincture as needed.

Other uses of Jamaican Dogwood:

Wood, charcoal

The yellow-brown wood of Jamaican Dogwood is resistant to decay, making its timber suitable for outdoor usage, such as boat building, fence posts, and poles. The dense, tight-grained wood is also used as a fuel, to make charcoal, and as a good carving material.

my_Jamaican_dogwood_ fairy
Esoteric uses of Jamaican Dogwood:

Wishes, protection, and good health. Used in meetings in which attendees must maintain confidence on the topics of discussion. Used to guard diaries, journals, and Books of Shadows. Seal letters with dogwood oil to keep the contents for intended eyes only. Use powdered bark or flowers as an incense.

The Chemistry:


  • Isoflavones; lisetin, jamaicin, ichthyone, and the rotenoids rotenone, milletone, isomilletone
  • Organic acids, including piscidic acid, its mono- and diethyl esters, fukiic acid and its 3′-0-methyl ester
  • Miscellaneous; [[beta]]-sitosterol, tannins
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