Rivina humilis: Bloodberry

Family: Petiveriaceae
Common name: Bloodberry, Pigeonberry, Baby peppers, Rougeplant, Coralito

Bloodberry plants are very popular ornamental plants, garden favorites because of their beautiful flowers and fruits. They are small herbs that can reach a height of 2 meters with small green leaves, having long petioles and wavy edges.

Small whitish pink flowers are borne on long racemes that are about 15 cms long. Later these flowers become bloodberries, bunches of deep red, glossy fruits that are about 5mm in diameter, each containing a single seed.

Bloodberry plants can tolerate shade, poor soil, pollution, salinity and drought; one of the primary reasons they are seen in most countries around the world. They are seen under trees and shrubs, in grasslands, thickets, roadsides and other disturbed areas with less than ideal growing conditions.

The pigment found in the berries is very similar to the one found in beets, and was used as ink and dyes. The flowers attract birds, bees and insects; that help in pollinating the flowers.

Birds eat the tiny berries thus helping in dispersal of seeds over long distances, the seeds unharmed after passing through the intestine of the birds or small animals. Because of their capability to proliferate quickly, they are considered as invasive weeds in many parts of the world.

These unique plants are used in Ayurveda in treatment of asthma, cough, cold, skin diseases and stomach ailments. Though birds and animals are able to eat the berries, the entire plant is toxic to humans producing symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and cough a few hours after ingestion.

Propagation is through seeds.

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