Ajuntament de Barcelona

Wigandia urens var. caracasana

Mossèn Costa i Llobera Garden

    Catalan name: 
    Spanish name: 
    Tabaquero de Caracas
    English name: 
    Caracus wigandia
    Botanical synonyms: 
    Wigandia caracasana, Caracus wigandia
    Species characteristics
    Central America to Venezuela and Colombia
    Road sides and slopes (sometimes in wall cracks) in places with soils rich in humus, as well as drained and fresh soils

    Perennial shrub up to 3 m tall with very hairy stems.

    The very big thick leaves, up to 60 cm long and 30 cm wide, surround up the stem radially. They are oval, alternate, slightly leathery and hairy , especially on the lower side, which is covered by tomentum (hairs making down). Its margin is jagged and they have a petiole up to 10 cm long.

    The violet flowers, with white tube, are small and appear into spiral inflorescences at the end of the branches. Both el calyx and the corolla, composed of five petals, are velvety.

    The fruits are capsules 0.5-1 cm long containing many yellowish brown seeds (their shape is variable).

    Flowering time: 
    Uses and properties: 

    In most of the world, Caracus Wigandia is grown in warm areas gardens for decoration purposes because of its tropical looking and the flashy flowers. Originally, it was used in medicine.

    The hair that covers the leaves and branches burns with the contact of skin.

    History and curiosities: 

    The scientific name Wigandia urens var. caracasana consists of the genus name Wigandia, dedicated to the Prussian Johann Wigand (1523-1587), and the Latin terms urens, “the one that burns”, in allusion to the steam stinging hairs, and caracasana, “from Caracas”, in allusion to the place where the Europeans found the plant for the first time.

    It was introduced for the first time in Europe circa 1897.

    For further information: 

    LÓPEZ GONZÁLEZ, Ginés A. Los árboles y arbustos de la Península Ibérica e Islas Baleares. (2 vol.) Madrid: Mundi-Prensa, 2001

    THE ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY. Enciclopedia de plantas y flores. Barcelona: Grijalbo, 1996