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Plant in Protest

This great sand bar has so much going for it, like the abundance of pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia Pulcherraima). For the women of Galveston, this is more than an ornamental shrub keeping up the curb appeal. This is freedom, this is opportunity, and this is potentially free.

If you haven’t already, plant Pride of Barbados in protest over recent restrictions in women’s reproductive choices. This flowering abortifacient (any substance that is used to terminate a pregnancy) is a member of the pea family Fabaceae, native to the tropics and subtropics of the Americas. All seeds of Caesalpinia are poisonous. However, the seeds of some species are edible before they reach maturity.

Maria Sibylla Merian, a 17th-century artist, encountered this plant in the Dutch colony of Surinam. In her work, Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium, Merian recorded that African slaves and native Indian populations used the flos pavonis or peacock flower as an abortifacient in their practice of traditional medicine.* She wrote:

“The Indians, who are not treated well by their Dutch masters, use the seeds [of this plant] to abort their children, so that their children will not become slaves like they are. The black slaves from Guinea and Angola have demanded to be well treated, threatening to refuse to have children. They told me this themselves.”

This information is so important to maintain and pass to younger generations, and also to serve as seed sources for important plant medicines.

Thank you Galvestonians for doing your part. Curious how we were already ahead of the game!


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