The islands of Trinidad and Tobago are known for having a long list of medicinal plants that are used by many locals, as a part of traditional healing and to improve and maintain health. Below are a list of some of these plants that have historically been used as antidiabetics (use against diabetes) on these islands.
Plants Historically used as Anti-diabetics in Trinidad and Tobago
|Scientific Name||Family 1||Local Name(s)||Plant Part||Distribution / Native Range2|
|Abrus precatorius L.||Fabaceae||crab eye/ licorice/ jumbie bead||aerial parts||Native to Africa, temperate and
tropical Asia, Australia & the Pacific; naturalized in the neotropics.
|Ageratum conyzoides (L.) L.||Asteraceae||zeb-a-fam||root||Native to South America and the
Caribbean; naturalized and/or cultivated globally
|Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f.||Xanthorrhoeaceae||aloes||not specified||Native to Canary Islands and North
Africa; widely cultivated and naturalized
|Annona muricata L.||Annonaceae||soursop||not specified||Neotropical origin – West Indies; naturalized across the tropics; widely
|Antigonon leptopus Hook. &|
|Polygonaceae||coralita||vine||Native to Mexico & Central America;
naturalized and cultivated elsewhere
|Aristolochia rugosa Lam.||Aristolochiaceae||matroot||whole plant||Native to South America and the
|Aristolochia trilobata L.||Aristolochiaceae||twef or tref||leaves||Native to South America and the
Caribbean; often cultivated
|Artocarpus altilis (Parkinson ex F.A.Zorn) Fosberg||Moraceae||breadfruit||yellowing leaves||Native to tropical Asia--Melanesia and Polynesia; naturalized in the Pacific; cultivated throughout the
|Azadirachta indica A. Juss||Meliaceae||neem/nim or neeb||leaves||Native to tropical Asia; naturalized
and cultivated elsewhere
|Bidens pilosa L.||Asteraceae||needle grass/ railway daisy||leaves||Exact native range obscure—includes North, Central and South America as well as the Caribbean; naturalized
|Bixa orellana L.||Bixaceae||roucou/ruku||leaves, root||Native to American tropics; excl. Caribbean; cultivated and naturalized
elsewhere in tropics
|Bontia daphnoides L.||Scrophulariaceae||olive bush||leaves||Native to the Caribbean and
|Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp.||Fabaceae||pigeon peas||leaves and|
|Widely cultivated in the tropics;
originated in India
|Cannabis sativa L.||Cannabaceae||ganja/marijuana||leaves, shoots and seeds||Probable origin - Central Asia; now widely naturalized and cultivated
|Carica papaya L.||Caricaceae||paw-paw||green fruit||Native to S. Mexico and Central America; naturalized in the Caribbean & African tropics; cultivated
|Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don||Apocynaceae||periwinkle||whole herb (flowers,|
|Native to Madagascar; naturalized and cultivated in tropics and
|Chromolaena odorata (L.)|
R.M. King & H. Rob.
|Asteraceae||Christmas bush||flowers||Native in neotropics, incl.
Caribbean; naturalized and cultivated in tropics worldwide
|Cissampelos pareira L.||Menispermaceae||pataçon||root||Native range from Mexico to
Argentina and incl. Caribbean
|Citrus x aurantium L.||Rutaceae||sour orange||fruit peel||Widely cultivated in tropics and
subtropics; hybrid (C. reticulata x C. maxima)3 originating in China
|Coccinia grandis (L.) Voigt.||Cucurbitaceae||parwar/ wild cucumber/ ivy|
|leaf juice||Native to Asia, African tropics and Australia; naturalized in Fiji;
|Cocos nucifera L.||Arecaceae||coconut||shell, flower||Native to parts of tropical Asia (including South East Asian islands and South margin of India), Pacific and Australia; widely naturalized and
|Cola nitida (Vent.) Schott &|
|Malvaceae||obie seed||seed||Native to West African tropics;
|Colubrina arborescens (Mill.) Sarg.||Rhamnaceae||mauby||bark||Native to Central and North America
(N.B. localized to south Florida), and the Caribbean
|Cordia curassavica (Jacq.)|
Roem. & Schult.
|Boraginaceae||black sage||not specified||Native range from Mexico to
Argentina and incl. Caribbean
|Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf||Poaceae||fever grass||not specified||Originated in SE Asia; naturalized in
Argentina and Chile; cultivated elsewhere.
|Eryngium foetidum L.||Apiaceae||bandhaniya/ fit weed/shado beni||leaves, roots||Native to Central and South America & the Caribbean; naturalized elsewhere including N. America
(Dade county, Florida)
|Gomphrena globosa L.||Amaranthaceae||bachelor button||leaves||Widely cultivated & naturalized,
exact native range obscure; probable origin -Neotropics
|Ipomoea aquatica Forssk.||Convolvulaceae||kharmi bhaji||leaves and tender stems||Native to S.E. Asia (Austin 2007)4; naturalized elsewhere including the Americas and the Pacific; widely cultivated|
|Laportea aestuans (L.) Chew||Urticaceae||stinging nettle||leaves||Native to tropics in Africa and America, incl. Caribbean; naturalized elsewhere|
|Leonotis nepetifolia (L.) R. Br.||Lamiaceae||shandilay||not specified||Originated in tropical Africa; naturalized across pantropics|
|Momordica charantia L.||Cucurbitaceae||coraillee/ caraaili||leaves, fruit||Native to Africa, Asia and Australia; naturalized in American tropics; widely cultivated|
|Moringa oleifera Lam.||Moringaceae||saijan||leaves||Native to Indian subcontinent; cultivated elsewhere|
|Morus alba L.||Moraceae||pawi bush||not specified||Native to temperate Asia; widely naturalized and cultivated in temperate and tropical areas|
|Musa x paradisiaca L.||Musaceae||silk fig||leaves||Indo/Malaysian origin; widely cultivated|
|Neurolaena lobata (L.) R.Br. ex Cass.||Asteraceae||zeb-a-pik/ zebapique||leaves||Native to American tropics, incl.
|Passiflora quadrangularis L.||Passifloraceae||barbadine/ granadilla||leaves||Originated in neotropics; widely cultivated in the tropics|
|Persea americana Mill.||Lauraceae||zaboca/avocado||seed||Originated in Central America – Mexico & Guatemala; naturalized in Pacific.|
Schumach. & Thonn.
|Phyllanthaceae||seed-under-leaf||not specified||Native to tropical America, incl. Caribbean; naturalized in paleotropics|
|Phyllanthus urinaria L.||Phyllanthaceae||seed-under-leaf||not specified||Native to temperate and tropical regions in Asia as well as the western Pacific; naturalized elsewhere in the tropics|
|Pteridaceae||stamp fern||whole plant||Native to neotropics, incl. Caribbean; naturalized in paleotropics|
|Ruellia tuberosa L.||Acanthaceae||minny root||root, leaves||Native to Central America; naturalized in South America & Caribbean and across paleotropics|
|Scoparia dulcis L.||Plantaginaceae||sweet broom||whole herb||Neotropical origin; widely naturalized in tropics and subtropics|
|5 Senna fruticosa (Mill.) H.S. Irwin & Barneby||Fabaceae||christmas bush||flowers||Native to Mexico and Central America, excl. Caribbean|
|5 Senna italica Mill.||Fabaceae||senna||not specified||Native to Africa, tropical and temperate regions in Asia; naturalized in Venezuela|
|Spermacoce verticillata L.||Rubiaceae||white head broom||whole herb||Native in neotropics from Mexico to Paraguay; incl. the Caribbean; naturalized elsewhere|
|Spiranthes acaulis (Sm.) Cogn.||Orchidaceae||lapsogen||not specified||Native in Central to South America and Trinidad and Tobago|
|Spondias mombin L.||Anacardiaceae||hog plum||leaves||Native to tropical America; obscure native range in West Indies; widely cultivated in paleotropics|
|Verbenaceae||vervine/ vervain||not specified||Native to American tropics, incl. Caribbean; widely naturalized in paleotropics & Polynesia|
1. Listing of Family names based on information from Stevens (2001) and The Plant List (2013)
2. Unless indicated otherwise, places of origin / distribution ranges were sourced from GRIN (2016) and Tropicos (2016)
3. IPNI (2012) entry for Citrus aurantium L. indicates probable hybrid of C. maxima x C. reticulata
4. Austin 2007, states that Ipomoea aquatica originated in S.E. Asia (includes China & India) but was introduced elsewhere.
5. Originally listed as Cassia spp, these species have been assigned to the genus Senna based on shared floral morphology as described in Irwin and Barneby 1982.
Source: Angelle L. Bullard-Roberts. Medicinal Plants of Trinidad and Tobago: Selection of Antidiabetic Remedies (Florida International University)
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