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Also known as ironweed, this plant is traditionally taken in a tea for colds. Brewed with rum, or combined with other herbs, it is said to help back pain. It's also put on wounds and cuts.
On islands colonized by the French, the leaves were commonly taken as a tonic and to encourage sweating. As a tea, they were used for syphilis and generally to 'cleanse' the blood. In Brazil, the plant has very similar medicinal uses, for fevers, coughs and chest infections, and as an antiseptic to heal wounds.
This plant is native to the West Indies and tropical America. It has now spread to tropical regions all over the world, where it's more commonly known as tobacco weed. It grows quickly to produce a thick ground cover that smothers pasture grasses. It produces large amounts of seed that scatter in the soil. They are easily spread by people and animals, as the seedcases have small bristles that hook on to fur and clothing.