Turnera ulmifolia L. – Ram-Goat Dash Along


Family: Passifloraceae
Genus: Turnera L.
Species: Turnera ulmifolia L.

Ram-goat Dash Along (Turnera ulmifolia L.)  previously of the Turneraceae family of flowering plants is now placed in Passifloraceae, the passion-flower family. Its name “Turnera” was given in honor of William Turner (the father of English botany) and “ulmifolia” because of its leaf’s similarity in shape to the leaves of the elm (ulm) tree.

This plant is an interesting one because it is known as Yellow Alder and Yellow Buttercups even though it is not a true alder or buttercup plant. Turnera ulmifolia L. is also referred to as Sage Rose and West Indian Holly when it is neither rose nor holly. Further, it is mistakenly called Damiana and marketed as an aphrodisiac when it possesses no scientifically reported sexual potency effects.

Turnera ulmifolia L. is oftentimes confused with a related species – Damiana (Turnera diffusa) and although they may look alike, their chemical constituents and ethnobotanical uses are distinctly different.

Ram-goat Dash Along (Turnera ulmifolia L.) is native to Central America and the West Indies where it is grown as an ornamental and used as a medicinal herb.

Description Of Ram-Goat Dash Along (Turnera ulmifolia L.):

Turnera ulmifolia L. is a shrubby or herbaceous perennial herb, erect, often woody at the base and growing to heights of approx 1.5 m (4 ft). The stem is bright green and covered with short hairs.

The plant is grown as ornamental for its showy five-petaled yellow flowers that blossom all year-round. The flowers are not fragrant and remain open for only one day.

Ram-goat Dash Along (Turnera ulmifolia L.) is also called Yellow Alder, Yellow Buttercups, Sage Rose, West Indian Holly, Cuban Buttercups, False Damiana, Jamaican Damiana, Ram-goat National, and Ram-goat Rational.

Medicinal Properties:

Turnera ulmifolia L. has antioxidant and antimicrobial activity. It also has phytoconstituents like toosendanin, phenylmethanone, phytofluene etc. Researchers have detected flavonoids, alkaloids, tannins, and phenolic compounds in preparations from this plant as well as significant antiulcerogenic effects from plant extracts.

Medicinal Uses:

    • Turnera ulmifolia L. is used as an expectorant, antidiabetic, and anticancer agent. It is also used as a laxative, carminative, tonic expectorant, and abortive agent.
    • The plant is used as a tonic against indigestion and bronchitis; as a remedy against swellings, pains, fever, respiratory, and pulmonary disorders as well as for fertility-related applications.
    • It is used for gastrointestinal problems, colds and flu, circulatory problems (such as heart palpitations), menstrual spasms, and dermatological issues.
    • The leaves are used for treating hair loss and thrush.
    • In Jamaica, Ram-goat Dash Along is used to make tea; and it is also a favourite beverage and cold remedy. It is used for general weakness, constipation, fever, prickly heat, and is reputed to cause abortion.
    • In the Bahamas, Turnera ulmifolia L. is used for melroxenia, sore throat, cold, and as an emmenagogue. In Haiti, it is used in vertigo, dysmenorrhea, hemorrhage, toothache, metrorrhagia, lumbago, and dyspepsia.

NOTE: Ram-goat Dash Along (Turnera ulmifolia L.)  is not a sexual tonic or aphrodisiac, any boost in libido would be based on an individual’s perception (mind over matter). The correct biological name for the plant that is an herbal aphrodisiac is Turnera diffusa (Damiana).

Other Uses:

The dried leaves are used as a tea substitute or as a flavouring.

Additional Information:

In Jamaica, Turnera ulmifolia L. was named “Ram-goat Dash Along” because when male goats ate the plant they began jumping around on everything and were dashing along.

Turnera ulmifolia L. or Cuban buttercup is the official flower of Cienfuegos, Cuba.

CAUTION: Due to the occurrence of cyanogenic constituents (plant toxins) in the Turnera species, the herb Ram-goat Dash Along (Turnera ulmifolia L.) should be taken in small quantities and avoided during pregnancy.

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