Fire dragon/jacob’s coat, botanical name known as Acalypha wilkesiana, is an evergreen shrub. It grows 3 metres (9.8 ft) high and spreads 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) across. The stem is erect with many branches. The branches have fine hairs. It has a closely arranged crown. The leaves are coppery green with red splashes of colour. This gives them a mottled appearance.
The leaves are large and broad with teeth around the edge. They can be 10–20 centimetres (3.9–7.9 in) long and 15 centimetres (5.9 in) wide. The leaves are finely hairy. They can be flat or crinkled. The flowers are reddish in spikes at the end of branches. They have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. The male flowers are in long spikes which hang downwards while the female flowers are in short spikes. They do not show up easily as they are often hidden among the leaves. The flower stalks are 10–20 cm long. In western part of Nigeria it’s known as “Flower pupa or Jiwini“.
What Are Its Useful Part?
Healing/Medical Use Of Fire Dragon/ Jacob’s Coat
- The plant is abortifacient, antibacterial, antifungal and antinematodal.
- The leaves are squeezed into water and the resulting juice is drunk as a treatment for diarrhoea and dysentery.
- The juice of fresh leaves is drunk as a treatment for laryngitis.
- They are chewed on as a first-aid treatment for a ruptured appendix.
- The fresh shoots are squeezed into water and the solution drunk to regulate menstruation and as an abortifacient Presumably this last treatment is a much stronger juice than that used for diarrhoea.
- The leaves are boiled in water and used as a massage for patients with fevers.
- The fresh, leafy branches are applied externally in order to induce perspiration, apparently for their rubefacient effect.
- The fresh young leaves, combined with the leaves of Ocimum basilicum, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and Euodia hortensis, are placed in a bowl of hot water and the vapour released is breathed in to bring relief from pneumonia, malaria, pain and fever.
- An infusion of the leaves and bark is drunk as a treatment for pleurisy.