Facts about Bluemink

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Bluemink Quick Facts
Name: Bluemink
Scientific Name: Ageratum houstonianum
Origin Mexico and Central America
Colors Brown to black
Shapes Achene that are about 2 mm long, brown to black in color, and topped with five awn-tipped scales (i.e. a pappus).
Health benefits arthrosis, headache, dyspnea, muscle spasms, flatulence, diarrhea or abdominal cramps, menstrual cramps
Ageratum houstonianum, commonly known as bluemink, flossflower, blueweed, pussy foot or Mexican paintbrush, is a cool-season annual plant belonging to Asteraceae / Compositae (Aster family) often grown as bedding in gardens. The plant is native to Southeastern Mexico and Central America. It was brought to Europe shortly after its discovery. The species is reported as invasive in China, Taiwan, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, USA (Hawaii), Cuba, Peru, Australia, Fiji, French Polynesia and New Zealand. Few of the well-known common names of the plant includes ageratum, billy goat crofton, billy goat weed, blue billy goat weed, blue top, bluemink, blue top, dark bluetop, floss flower, floss flower, garden ageratum, goat weed, invading ageratum, Mexican ageratum, Todd’s curse, tropic ageratum, blueweed, pussy foot and Mexican paintbrush.

Genus name apparently comes from the Greek a meaning not and geras meaning old age because the flowers hold their color for a long time. The plant is sometimes harvested from the wild for local medicinal use. It has been reported that A. houstonianum has broad biological activities, including antifungal, antibacterial, and antimicrobial activities. It has been used for treating pain and infections, especially for healing of external wounds and skin diseases. However, the active component of A. houstonianum and its mode of action for curing skin wounds have not been investigated.

Bluemink Facts

Name Bluemink
Scientific Name Ageratum houstonianum
Native Mexico and Central America. It was brought to Europe shortly after its discovery. The species is reported as invasive in China, Taiwan (PIER, 2016), Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, USA (Hawaii), Cuba, Peru, Australia, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Zealand
Common Names Ageratum, billy goat crofton, billy goat weed, billygoat weed, blue billy goat weed, blue billygoat weed, blue top, bluemink, bluetop, dark bluetop, floss flower, flossflower, garden ageratum, goat weed, goatweed, invading ageratum, Mexican ageratum, Todd’s curse, tropic ageratum, blueweed, pussy foot, Mexican paintbrush
Name in Other Languages Afrikaans: Mexikaanse ageratum
Armenian: Antseri mek’sikakan (Անծերի մեքսիկական)
Assamese: Gendali-bon, Gondh-bon
Belarusian: Ahieratum mieksikanski (агератум мексіканскі)
Bulgarian: Ageratum (агератум)
Chinese: Zi hua huo xiang ji,  xiong er cao (熊耳草), Shèng hóng jì (勝紅薊), Mòxīgē lán jì (墨西哥藍薊), Duàn xuè cǎo (斷血草),  Zǐhuā máo shèxiāng (紫花毛麝香), Zǐhuā huò xiāng jì (紫花藿香薊), Chòu cǎo zǐ (臭草仔)
Croatian: Meksička plavuša
Cuba: Celestina azul
Czech: Nestařec americký
Danish: Almindelig blåkvast
Dutch: Leverbalsem, mexicaantje
English: Bluemink, Flossflower, Mexican ageratum, Ageratum, Blue billygoat-weed, Garden ageratum, Blue maudlin, blue-top goatweed, large-flower ageratum
Fijian: Botebotekoro, mbotembotekoro, sogovanua, songovanua
Finnish: Sinitähtönen, meksikonsinitähtönen
French: Ageratum du Mexique, Agerate bleu, eupatoire bleue,
German: (Mexikanischer) Leberbalsam, Gewöhnlicher Leberbalsam, Mexikanischer Leberbalsam, Mexiko-Leberbalsam
Hawaiian: Maile hohono, maile honohono, maile kula
Hindi: Raktarodhi
Hungarian: Kék bojtocska, bojtocska
Italian: Agerato celestino
Japanese: Murasakikakkoazami (ムラサキカッコウアザミ), Ookakkoazami (オオカッコウアザミ), ageratsumu (アゲラツム), katsukô-azami (カツコウアザミ), Kakkouazami (カッコウアザミ)  
Korean: Bul ro hwa (불로화)
Lithuanian: Meksikinis žydrūnis
Macedonian: Sina dzvezdička (Сина ѕвездичка)
Nepali: Nilo Gandhe (निलो गन्धे), Gandhe Jhaar (गन्धे झार)
Norwegian: Blåkorg, Blåkurv
Polish: Żeniszek meksykański, ageratum meksykańskie,
Portuguese: Agerato, celestina
Russian: Ageratum Gaustona (Агератум Гаустона), ageratum meksikanskiy (агератум мексиканский), ageratum Houstona (агератум Хоустона)
Sanskrit: Nilima
Serbian: Ageratum (Агератум)
Slovak: Agerát mexický
Spanish: Agerato, agerato celestino, damasquino
Swedish: Ageratum, Leverbalsam
Ukrainian: Ageratum gaustona (агератум гаустона)
Welsh: Ageratwm
Plant Growth Habit Short-lived, cool-season, erect, herbaceous annual or dwarf shrub
Growing Climates Gardens, roadsides, disturbed sites, waste areas, pastures, crops, wetlands, waterways, farmlands, forest trails, riverbanks, cleared upland slopes, crests, pine woods, cultivated ground, savannas, humid areas, riparian zones, pine woods, coastal area
Soil Well drained soils are preferred with some added organic matter and a layer of mulch
Plant Size 10 to 70 centimeters tall. The plants usually grow to a width of 10 to 30 centimeters
Stem Stems are simple or branched, especially above, erect or decumbent, reddish to green, glandular-villous to lanate above. The stem is covered in white, soft matted hairs (tomentose) or woolly hairs (lanate)
Leaf Oppositely arranged, but can be alternately arranged on the upper parts of the stems. They are borne on stalks (i.e. petioles) 0.5-3 cm long and vary from being almost triangular in shape to egg-shaped in outline (i.e. ovate). These leaves are 2-7 cm long and 1.5-6 cm wide and have bluntly toothed (i.e. crenate) margins and either blunt or pointed tips (i.e. obtuse to acute apices)
Flowering season June to October
Flower Each flower-head is 5-8 mm across and has numerous tiny tubular flowers (i.e. tubular florets) that are surrounded by two or three rows of greenish-coloured bracts (i.e. an involucre). The florets are 2-3 mm long and range from pale lavender to blue, pink or purplish in color and each has two elongated projections (i.e. style branches). The bracts at the base of the flower-head is 3-5 mm long and are elongated in shape (i.e. linear-lanceolate) and covered in sticky hairs (i.e. glandular pubescent).
Fruit Shape & Size Achene that are about 2 mm long, brown to black in color, and topped with five awn-tipped scales (i.e. a pappus). These scales are 2-3 mm long and are whitish in color and resemble short bristles or hairs
Fruit Color Brown to black
Propagation By seed
Plant Parts Used Leaves, fruits, flowers, stem, seeds, roots
Varieties
  • A. houstonianum var. angustatum B.L. Rob.
  • A. houstonianum f. isochroum
  • A. houstonianum f. luteum
  • A. houstonianum var. muticescens
  • A. houstonianum f. niveum
  • A. houstonianum f. normale
  • A. houstonianum var. typicum
  • A. houstonianum f. versicolor
Season August to October
Other Facts
  • It is used as a garden ornament.
  • The plant yields an insecticide

Plant Description

Bluemink is a short-lived, cool-season, erect, herbaceous annual or dwarf shrub that normally grows about 10 to 70 centimeters tall. The plants usually grow to a width of 10 to 30 centimeters. The plant is found growing in gardens, roadsides, disturbed sites, waste areas, pastures, crops, wetlands, waterways, farmlands, forest trails, riverbanks, cleared upland slopes, crests, pine woods, cultivated ground, savannas, humid areas, riparian zones, pine woods and coastal area. Well drained soils are preferred with some added organic matter and a layer of mulch. It is sometimes cultivated and is often a weed in nursery stock. It can be found occasionally as an escape or weed in plant nurseries, in landscaped areas, and around disturbed urban areas such as parking lots or drainage ditches. It is a fibrous rooted annual plant. Stems are simple or branched, erect or decumbent, reddish to green, glandular-villous to lanate above. Stem is covered in white, soft matted hairs (tomentose) or woolly hairs (lanate).

Leaves

The leaves are mostly oppositely arranged, but can be alternately arranged on the upper parts of the stems. They are borne on stalks (i.e. petioles) 0.5-3 cm long and vary from being almost triangular in shape to egg-shaped in outline (i.e. ovate). These leaves are 2-7 cm long and 1.5-6 cm wide and have bluntly toothed (i.e. crenate) margins and either blunt or pointed tips (i.e. obtuse to acute apices).  Both surfaces of the leaves and the leaf stalks have a scattered covering of hairs (i.e. they are pubescent).

Leaf arrangement Alternate
Leaf type Simple
Leaf margin Dentate
Leaf shape Ovate
Leaf venation Reticulate
Leaf type and persistence Not applicable
Leaf blade length 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color Green
Fall color Not applicable
Fall characteristic Not applicable

 

Flowers

The flower-heads (i.e. capitula) are arranged in dense clusters at the tips of the branches (i.e. in terminal corymbs) and do not have any obvious petals (i.e. ray florets). Each flower-head is 5-8 mm across and has numerous tiny tubular flowers (i.e. tubular florets) that are surrounded by two or three rows of greenish-coloured bracts (i.e. an involucre). The florets are 2-3 mm long and range from pale lavender to blue, pink or purplish in color and each has two elongated projections (i.e. style branches). The bracts at the base of the flower-head is 3-5 mm long and are elongated in shape (i.e. linear-lanceolate) and covered in sticky hairs (i.e. glandular pubescent). Flowering occurs throughout most of the year but more during June to October.

Flower color Blue; pink; lavender
Flower characteristic Showy

 

Fruit

Fertile flowers are followed by achene that are about 2 mm long, brown to black in color, and topped with five awn-tipped scales (i.e. a pappus). These scales are 2-3 mm long and are whitish in color and resemble short bristles or hairs. Plants are somewhat similar to our native Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum, which is also occasionally called Wild Ageratum.

Fruit shape No fruit
Fruit length No fruit
Fruit cover No fruit
Fruit color Not applicable
Fruit characteristic Inconspicuous and not showy

 

History

The plant is native to Central America in Guatemala and Belize, and adjacent parts of Mexico, but has become an invasive weed in other areas. It was also naturalized in large parts of the tropics and in the southern United States. Their habitat is pastures, moist forest clearings and bushes up to altitudes of 1,000 meters (3,300 ft.).

Today, it is extensively used as an ornamental plant for summer borders and balcony boxes, high varieties also as cut flowers. The species is cultivated once a year, having numerous varieties whose crowns may be dark blue, purple, pink and white.

Traditional uses and benefits of Bluemink

  • The juice of the plant is used externally to treat cuts and wounds.
  • The juice is used in folk medicine as an external wound healing aid for skin injuries.
  • Weed has been used past time for its medicinal effect in numerous diseases such as common wound and the burned one, anti-microbe, arthrosis, headache, and dyspnea.
  • The infusion of its leaves help to recover from muscle spasms and arthritis problems.
  • It is also ideal to improve some digestive problems such as flatulence, diarrhea or abdominal cramps.
  • It is an effective reliever of menstrual cramps.
  • Rheumatic pains are also relieved when the infusion is applied together with alcohol.
  • Juice of the plant helps prevent infection in wounds promoting rapid healing.
  • In Ecuador, the plant is used to treat throat pain or inflammation in folk medicine.

Precautions

  • Ageratum houstonianum is toxic to grazing animals, causing liver lesions.
  • Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested.
  • All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested.
  • Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction.
  • Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling.
  • Pollen may cause allergic reaction.

References:

http://www.hear.org/pier/species/ageratum_houstonianum.htm

https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ageratum+houstonianum

https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/3573

https://gd.eppo.int/taxon/AGEHO

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/gcc-11706

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ageratum_houstonianum

https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/120944-Ageratum-houstonianum

https://keyserver.lucidcentral.org/weeds/data/media/Html/ageratum_houstonianum.htm

https://indiabiodiversity.org/species/show/265318

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=36483#null

https://npgstest2.agron.iastate.edu/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomydetail?id=1761

https://en.hortipedia.com/Ageratum_houstonianum

http://hort.ufl.edu/shrubs/AGEHOUA.PDF

https://apg.pir.sa.gov.au/gringlobal/taxonomydetail.aspx?id=1761

https://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/256/#b

http://www.flowersofindia.net/catalog/slides/Floss%20Flower.html

https://plants.usda.gov/home/plantProfile?symbol=AGHO3

https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=277131

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