WCC Botanists Unveil The Many Splendors Of ‘Bidens Pilosa L’
By PAIGE TAKEYA
The next time you see a Spanish needle plant, try not to step on it – you could be looking at your next meal.
A new booklet published by Windward Community College botany and microbiology professor Ingelia White highlights the medicinal and nutritional benefits of Bidens pilosa L, as well as its economic potential.
Titled Ethnopharmacognosy Series IV: Pharmaceutical and Nutraceutical Values of Spanish Needle – Bioproducts and Recipes, White’s booklet is a record of discoveries made by her Agripharmatech students January 2011-May 2013 in White’s medicinal campus garden.
“Students learn why certain plants are valued medicinally in Hawaiian and other cultures and what basis there is for their use in such practices,” said WCC vice chancellor for student affairs Ardis Eschenberg.
The Spanish needle, she noted, has historically been used to treat ulcers, diabetes and skin disorders, among other things.
White’s students discovered that the Spanish needle reduces oral pathogens and bacteria that cause peptic ulcers, and they were able to transform the plant into products such as tea, soap, gargle, chewing gum, tooth-cleaning powder, pills, lozenges, fruit bites and lollipops.
Other students adapted the plant as an ingredient in a variety of food dishes. Winning the Spanish Needle Food Pharmacy Competition, for example, was student Michael Denis’ recipe for “Kabocha-Spanish Needle Soup with Banana Dumplings.”
The booklet is on sale to the public at the college bookstore for $13. For more information, visit windward.hawaii.edu/bookstore or call 235-7418.
Proceeds support student internships and conference travel opportunities.