Ixcanan aka Polly Red Head : An Important Medicinal Rainforest Plant in Belize
Common names: Scarlet Bush, Fire Bush, Red Head, Sanalo-todo, Ix-canan, Sac-te-much, Klaush-pim
Ixcanan is a small fast growing semi-woody bush that can be found throughout Belize. It grows up to three meters in height and has red tinged, deeply veined leaves about 10-20 cm long. It produces a showy mass of tubular, bright reddish orange flowers and a flashy fruit – the edible berry turns from green to yellow, to red and finally black when ripe. In Mexico, the ripe berry is turned into wine. The plant is indigenous in Central and South America, the West Indies, Mexico, and even southern Florida.
The Maya named this plant after the Goddess of the Forest and Healing, Ix-canan likely due to the abundant anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties used in treating a large variety of skin ailments. Everything from sores, ulcers, fungus, rashes, burns, insect bites, burns, and bee stings can be treated effectively with this natural plant remedy.
The remedy is prepared by boiling a double handful of leaves, stems and flowers in 2 gallons of water for 10 minutes. After it cools, it's applied liberally to the affected area. This same remedy is also drunk as a tea to relieve menstrual cramps
The flower is a favorite of hummingbirds and butterflies and can also be used to hold iodine from the stems of the plant.
Want to learn more about the Medicinal Rain forest Plants of Belize? Then check out our Maya Medicinal Plant Trail Page.