Fragrant Callisia, or Golden Mustache - care

Fragrant Callisia, or Golden Mustache – care

The botanical name of the popular golden mustache is fragrant callis. She belongs to the Commelin family (Commelinaceae)… There are 12 species in the genus Callisia that grow in the tropics of Central and South America and Mexico. But in culture, only one species is best known – fragrant callis (Callisia fragrans). Fashion for it arose in the nineteenth century, immediately after the opening. Then Kalizia was almost completely forgotten, and now they began to breed not as an overseas curiosity, but as a medicinal plant (by the way, not only in our country, but also in the West).

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In nature, this creeping grass up to 2 m long “crawls” along mountain slopes and clearings, rooting in nodes. It is named with a golden whisker because of the presence of long shoots that extend from the axils of the leaves, like the “whiskers” of strawberries, and take root in the same way. The length of these “whiskers” is up to 1 meter, they are naked, reddish-brown with long internodes and small rosettes of leaves at the ends (it is usually believed that only shoots no shorter than 9 internodes are suitable for treatment). Large, up to 30 cm, almost linear alternate leaves, covering the stem, develop only after rooting. When a sheet breaks, thin threads of rubber stretch between its parts. The stem of this plant, although long, is not able to stand upright, so it needs support in the apartment. Flowers, which are rarely formed in rooms, appear from the axils of the leaves and are collected in paired, hanging brushes on small peduncles. Each flower has three white, pink or blue petals, despite the fact that the inflorescences themselves are inconspicuous, they attract attention with a strong pleasant smell, similar to the smell of hyacinth.

This plant has changed its name several times. The first description was made in 1840 as Spironema fragrans, then it was renamed Rectanthera fragrans. The modern name – callisia (translated from Greek. Καλός – beautiful, Λις – lily – “beautiful lily”) she received only in 1942, from the American RE Woodson. In 1978, in Kiev, the book “Houseplants and Ornamental Flowering Shrubs” was published, in which they made an unfortunate mistake, calling Kalizia dichorizandra. Dichorisandra thirsiflora – dichorisandra brush-colored, although a close relative of callisia, but a completely different plant, moreover, very rarely found on windows. Other types of dichorizandra are much more common, but none of them, as far as we know, has a medicinal effect. In all species of dichorizandra, elliptical leaves (most of them are variegated) are arranged but spirals and create a beautiful rosette, it does not form a mustache or rubber threads.

Dichorizandras are much more capricious, they need humid air, some species and forms in rooms survive only under a hood that provides sufficient humidity.

Fragrant Callisia, or Golden Mustache - care
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Vladimir Nikolayevich Ogarkov made a great contribution to the spread of the golden mustache as a medicine, who had been using it in his practice for almost thirty years before the publication of the first article that appeared in the newspaper “Healthy Lifestyle” in 2000. This was followed by a whole series of articles by other authors. With their light hand, calizia is now widely used in folk medicine.

Scientific studies of the composition and action of the golden mustache are being carried out in St. Petersburg and Novosibirsk, and the only thing that has been fully proven so far is not the poisonousness of the plant. It actually contains a number of biologically active substances. And above all, it has a wound healing effect for scratches, cuts, minor burns. To do this, smear the sore spot with fresh juice or apply a crushed sheet to it.

For all more complex cases, the plant is preliminarily subjected to a special treatment, enhancing its activity. To do this, the stem and “whiskers” of calizia are wrapped in plastic wrap immediately after cutting and placed in the lower part of the refrigerator for two weeks at a temperature of about 3-4 degrees above zero.

Fragrant Callisia, or Golden Mustache - care
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I must say that callisia is far from a panacea, and a rather significant part of its action is based on the patient’s faith in healing, but on the other hand, mild stimulation of the immune system and endocrine glands, which gives a golden mustache, are really useful in a number of diseases, mainly inflammatory nature.

You can also use a tincture of shoots, it not only disinfects wounds, but also rubbing sore spots with osteochondrosis, rheumatism, sciatica. To prepare a tincture for external use, a branch of a golden mustache with a length of 12 internodes (several segments of the same total length are possible) are infused in 0,5 liters of vodka for 10 days in a dark place. This tincture is used for compresses, rubbing. However, treatment with calizia is not devoid of features and contraindications. It is impossible to start treatment with calizia without consulting an experienced herbalist, since the dosage and dosage regimen are different for each disease. One of the complications of exceeding the dose or taking too long is damage to the vocal cords, a change in the timbre of the voice, and sometimes its loss, and recovery is very difficult. You cannot swallow whole leaves, even well-chewed ones – a large amount of rubber does not allow pieces of a leaf to separate from each other, forming a kind of net. Such a sheet, unsuccessfully located, can clog the exit from the stomach and cause its obstruction with serious consequences.

Fragrant Callisia, or Golden Mustache - care
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Golden mustache is easy to grow in a room. It reproduces by layering, mustache pieces and ordinary cuttings. The most favorable time for breeding is March, April, but if necessary, you can reproduce all year round.

How to root the stalk correctly? From the mother plant of callisia, cut off the top of the shoot with 2 – 4 nodes (joints), remove the lower leaves, shorten the upper ones by a third. Dry the cuttings for 2 – 3 hours, and then plant in pots with a richly moistened soil mixture. Moisten the cuttings and cover with a plastic rooting bag.

A rosette of leaves with a small piece of stem is cut off from a horizontal lateral shoot and placed in a vessel with water. A powerful root system develops within 10 to 15 days. Then a young plant of callisia is planted in a pot with an earthen mixture and watered abundantly.

Young plants of fragrant callis are transplanted annually, and adults once every two to three years. It is better to transplant in spring or autumn. The substrate for planting is prepared from a mixture of compost soil, leaf and sand, taken in equal amounts. The acidity index should be in the range of pH 5-5,5. Good drainage is required at the bottom of the container.

When breeding kalizia, it must be borne in mind that it loves light, but does not tolerate direct sunlight, especially hot evening ones. In this case, the plant becomes discolored and curled, whiskers cease to form. Calizia transferred to the shade recovers quickly. Winter temperature should be between 16-18оC, otherwise the plants stretch strongly, reducing the amount of active ingredients. In summer, the golden mustache can be taken outside in a shady place.

Diseases and pests – thrips and red spider mites. At the first signs of damage, the plant of fragrant callis should be sprayed with a systemic insecticide and covered for 1 – 2 days with a plastic bag. The best preventive measures are daily spraying and maintaining the necessary air humidity.

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Anna Evans

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