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Species listing:  
Krameria [genus]  

K. argentea  

K. bicolor  

K. cuspidata  

K. cytisoides  

K. erecta  
Synonyms: Krameria parvifolia

K. grayi  
Synonyms: Krameria canescens

K. ixina  
Synonyms: Krameria ixine L.

K. lanceolata  

K. lappacea  
Synonyms: Krameria triandra Ruiz
& Pavón

K. paucifolia  

K. ramosissima  

K. secundiflora  
Synonyms: Krameria pauciflora DC

K. sp.  



Krameria [genus] L. ex Loefl. KRAMERIACEAE

Common names: Rhatany (Guatemala)

S US to Chile; 25 spp. The only genus in the family. Fls. hermaphrodite, zygomorphic, calyx 4-5, unequal, corolla 5, v. unequal, 3 upper petals long-clawed, 2 lower small, broad, thick. Fruit globular, indehiscent, covered with bristles or spines, often barbed. Rel. to Polygalaceae & Leguminosae (Willis 1973:621) 15 spp. Calyx imbricate, the 3 outer larger & often enclosing the flower; corolla with 3 adaxial long-clawed petals, 2 lower ones smaller, broad, thick, sessile, often with lipid-secreting glands, no nectary-disk. Female Centris bees collect saturated fatty acids from the lipid glands for their larvae; also Malpighiaceae for the same. Apparently closest family is Polygalaceae; although K. cytisoides is reminiscent of Leguminosae, wood anatomy, serology and female organ structure support Polygalaceae (Mabberley 1997:383) Shrubs, low, erect or procumbent, usually with sericeous or strigose pubescence. Lvs. alt., small, simple & entire or trifoliolate; no stipules. Fls. showy, perfect, sol. & axillary or racemose; sepals 4-5, petals 5, stamens 4. Fruit coriaceous, globose, indehiscent, covered with numerous spines. Mexican spp. prob. have the same props. as the S Am. spp. Roots have been exported from Mexico. Plants also yield a yellow or brownish-red dye, used locally in Mexico for coloring wool, skins. Roots of some spp. have been used in Eu. for making and coloring wine, and the manuf. of dentifrices (Standley 1922:346) Many authors have united it with the Leguminosae, Bentham & Hooker put it in Polygalaceae. Dried roots of some of the S Am. spp. are known in commerce as rhatany roots, official in the US Pharmacopoeia. Used as tonic & a powerful astringent for chronic diarrhea. Roots of Mexican spp. have been exported, same uses (Flora of Guatemala 1946:488) Commission E, the group of experts that advise the German government about herbal remedies, approves of using a tea of the bark to treat the gum disease gingivitis. It is rich in astringent, antiseptic tannin. Steep a teaspoon in a cup of boiling water, then drink it or use as a mouthwash (Duke 1997:217). Included in Leguminosae. Named for John George Henry Kramer and William Henry, his son, Austrian botanists (Jaeger 1941) Included in Leguminosae (Mors and Rizzini 1966) Included in Leguminosae (Hersch-Martínez 1997)

KRAMERIACEAE Krameria argentea


Krameria argentea Mart. KRAMERIACEAE

Common names: Ratanhia (Mors) Rhatany (Standley)

S Am. Official in the US Pharmacopoeia. In comm. known as rhatany roots. A tonic & powerful astringent for chronic diarrhea, passive hemorrhages, etc. (Standley 1922:346) Well known, once used against diarrhea. The drug consists of the root bark. The active agent is tannin, 10-13% (Mors and Rizzini 1966) Valid species (GRIN 2007)

KRAMERIACEAE Krameria bicolor


Krameria bicolor Wats. KRAMERIACEAE

Chih. to Sin., Jal. Erect shrub to 1.5 m high, stems greenish. Lvs. lanceolate to linear, sericeous. Fls. purplish, upper petal with broad rounded blade. Spiny fruit 1 cm diam., barbs borne in an umbrella-like whorl at the apex of the spine (Standley 1922:348) Common in the N. Roots known in the pharmacopoeia as a tonic and astringent (Santamaría 1978:Guachapurillo) Name not in GRIN (GRIN 2007)

KRAMERIACEAE Krameria cuspidata


Krameria cuspidata Presl. KRAMERIACEAE

Tepic to Oax. Low shrub. Lvs. petiolate, to 7 mm wide. Fls. purplish, 8 mm long (Standley 1922:347). Name not in GRIN (GRIN 2007)

KRAMERIACEAE Krameria cytisoides


Krameria cytisoides Cav. KRAMERIACEAE

Coah., Tmps. to Hgo., Pue. Erect shrub to 1.8 m high. Lfts. 3, obovate, to 2 cm long, sericeous. Fls. purplish, showy, sepals 2 cm long. Fruit covered with spines. Roots used for dyeing wool (Standley 1922:347) Name not in GRIN (GRIN 2007)

KRAMERIACEAE Krameria erecta


Krameria erecta Willd. KRAMERIACEAE

Synonyms: Krameria parvifolia Benth.

Common names: Krameria (Jaeger)

K. parvifolia: Baja, Son. Low rigid shrub, branches gray or brownish. Lvs. simple, linear, to 1.5 cm long, sessile. Fls. showy, purple. Fruit globose, indehiscent, spines with barbs scattered along the upper part. Pima Indians of AZ use the powdered root to treat sores (Standley 1922:348) K. parvifolia: Shrub to 2 ft., parasitizes the roots of nearby plants. Handsome in May when the twiggy branchlets are almost covered by numerous fragrant wine-colored fls. The heart-shaped fruits are adorned with delicate barbed spines. An imp. food of the desert bighorn sheep (Jaeger 1957:284) K. parvifolia: Pima use the lvs. to prepare a refreshing hot tea (Pennington 1980) Valid species; synonym not in GRIN (GRIN 2007)

KRAMERIACEAE Krameria grayi


Krameria grayi Rose & Painter KRAMERIACEAE

Synonyms: Krameria canescens A.Gray

Common names: White Ratany (Jaeger) Chacate (Santamaría)

Chih., Coah., W TX to S CA. Densely branched shrub to 90 cm high. Lvs. linear, densely sericeous. Fls. purple. Spiny fruit with stout barbs at the apex of the spines (Standley 1922:348) Low-branching shrub to 2 ft. In May the rigid branches are almost buried in masses of small fragrant red-purple fls. Petals are smaller than the sepals, and the two lower ones are reduced to short fleshy scales. The reddish heart-shaped fruits are covered with delicate spines bearing a peculiar whorl of barbs at the tip. The plant is parasitic on roots of other woody plants. Pima Indians of AZ use the powdered roots to treat sores (Jaeger 1941) K. canescens: Bark used as a dye in N Mexico and TX. Name chacate has been adopted in Am. English (Santamaría 1978:Chacate) In NM, root infusion to dye leather a brownish-red (Ford 1975) Listed (NRCS database 2004) Name & synonym not in GRIN (GRIN 2007)

KRAMERIACEAE Krameria ixina


Krameria ixina L. KRAMERIACEAE

Synonyms: Krameria ixine L.

Common names: Cadilla del perro (Morton) Rhatany (Standley)

SW Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, N S Am. Dry coastal thickets, highlands. Shrub with long cylindrical roots, gray-brown outside, red-brown within. Numerous erect or sprawling stems or branches. Lvs. alt., elliptic to lanceolate to 2.5 cm long, 7 mm wide, gray-green, minutely hairy. Fls. lavender, 7 mm long, in short terminal spikes. Fruit globose, dark red, to 1.6 cm across, downy, densely covered with numerous sharp spines to 6 mm long. Fruits separate easily from the plant, cling tenaciously to clothing, skin. Grows only in coastal areas, so brought to market in quantity. In Curaçao much used. Adults & children drink an infusion or weak decoction, hot or cold, for refreshment or to overcome intestinal irritation. Many men drink the decoction every morning as a tonic for liver & kidneys, esp. if they have overindulged in alcohol the night before. Also to treat venereal disease. To expel kidney stones, drink a weak root decoction for 9 days in succession, followed by a purgative. Plant decoction frequently taken as an emmenagogue. Some pregnant women take it regularly to promote an easy delivery. A strong decoction of plant or of roots is taken as an abortifacient; 9 cups of decoction, 3 a day for 3 days, the last one with salt. Sometimes also take a laxative pill from the pharmacy as well, or boil with other herbs. Externally, root decoction is used to wash wounds. In Coro & nearby parts of Venezuela, 30% of the people drink the plant decoction as a tonic for the liver, kidneys. Brazil, plant decoction taken only as an astringent, for diarrhea, dysentery. Roots were formerly exported to England as a subst. for Peruvian rhatany, a powerful astringent. Plant is rich in condensed catechin tannin. Extracts administered subcutaneously to black rats prod. fibrosarcomas in 100% of the animals. Plant is suspected of being a factor in the high rate of esophageal cancer in Curaçao and Coro. It is believed that people of these two regions drink the decoction of this plant by mistake because of hearsay about Urena lobata and U. sinuata [Malvaceae], which are called ‘cadillo de perro’ in Maricaibo [Venezuela]. The name refers to the shape of the leaf: that of Urena is like a dog’s footprint, but that of Krameria is short & narrow. Urena spp. are recommended in Maricaibo even by physicians as beneficial to the liver & kidneys (Morton 1981:Vol. 1 page 356) Much used as a ‘bush tea’ in Curaçao, sold in the markets. The island has a v. high incidence of esophageal cancer. Dr. Julia Morton sent sacks of this plant to the National Cancer Inst. In 1969, shown to cause tumors in 100% of expt. animals, sometimes in as little as 9 months. Active agent: high levels of condensed catechin tannin. In native markets of Curaçao, and in Coro on the mainland, this plant is called ‘cadillo de perro’, dog’s footprint, and people took it by mistake for Urena spp. Until recently no road Maricaibo to Coro, and Coro’s only contact with the world was by boat to Curaçao (Morton 1978:112) S Am. Official in the US Pharmacopoeia. In commerce known as rhatany roots. A tonic & powerful astringent for chronic diarrhea, passive hemorrhages, etc. (Standley 1922:346) Valid species; synonym not in GRIN (GRIN 2007)

KRAMERIACEAE Krameria lanceolata


Krameria lanceolata Torrey KRAMERIACEAE

SW US. Hemiparasite with haustoria (Mabberley 1997:383) Valid species (GRIN 2007)

KRAMERIACEAE Krameria lappacea


Krameria lappacea (Dombey) Burdet & B.B.Simpson KRAMERIACEAE

Synonyms: Krameria triandra Ruiz & Pavón

Common names: Rattany, Rhatany (Americana) Ratanhia, Dental Root, Pumacuchu, Mapato (Ruiz) Krameria, Rhatany Root (Vogel)

K. triandra: Andes of Peru, Bolivia. A coarse plant. Roots of this & other spp. used as an astringent. When finely powdered they are often used in tooth-powders. Also used esp. in Portugal to color wines ruby-red. This property is due to the presence of ratanhia tannic acid. The root-bark also contains an almost insoluble free red subst., called ratanhia-red (Encyclopedia Americana. 1954:Rattany) K. triandra: In Peru, along streams and in higher areas of the mountains northeast of Lima grow various medicinal plants in common use. Some Indians take them down from Huarocheri Province to sell in Lima, especially ratanhia or dental root, Rhatania triandra, and sundry others (Ruiz 1998 (1777–1788):95). K. triandra: In Tarma Province, north of Huarocheri is called pumacuchu or mapato; in Huánuco, it is called ratanhia (Ruiz 1998 (1777–1788):113). K. triandra: Trade could be initiated for many plants of medicinal value as well as those useful for dyeing and other arts. These would include the roots of rhatany and other products that abound in the vastness of those virgin, fertile jungles (Ruiz 1998 (1777–1788):152). K. triandra: S Am. Official in the US Pharmacopoeia. In commerce known as rhatany roots. A tonic & powerful astringent for chronic diarrhea, passive hemorrhages, etc. (Standley 1922:346) K. triandra: This & other spp. official, USP 1831-1916, NF 1916-26. The Spanish botanist Hipolito Ruiz 1784 observed native women of Lima using this drug as a tooth preservative & astringent. He intro. it to Spain. Classed as an astringent & tonic (Vogel 1970) K. triandra: For gingivitis, which is an infection of the gums that sometimes leads to pyorrhea, dentists flush the deep pockets with antiseptics. Commission E, the panel of experts that advises the German government on herbal remedies, recommends rhatany bark for gingivitis, it is rich in astringent, antiseptic tannin. Steep a teaspoon of dried herb in a cup of boiling water. Drink it or use as a mouthwash. [But this doesn’t necessarily get into the damaged gums.] (Duke 1997:217) Valid species & synonym (GRIN 2007)

KRAMERIACEAE Krameria paucifolia


Krameria paucifolia Rose KRAMERIACEAE

Baja, Son. Low shrub forming dense masses, branches often spinose. Lvs. few, linear or lanceolate, to 1.5 cm long. Fls. purplish, to 8 mm long. Spiny fruit with barbs in an umbrella-like whorl at the apex (Standley 1922:348) A wild tree similar to the mesquite [Prosopis, Leguminosae] (Santamaría 1978:Mesquitillo) Name not in GRIN (GRIN 2007)

KRAMERIACEAE Krameria ramosissima


Krameria ramosissima (A.Gray) S.Wats. KRAMERIACEAE

Tmps., W TX; reported from Coah., NL. Densely branched shrub to 60 cm high. Lvs. linear to 6 mm long. Fls. purplish. Spines of the fruit not barbed (Standley 1922:347) Listed (NRCS database 2004) Name not in GRIN (GRIN 2007)

KRAMERIACEAE Krameria secundiflora


Krameria secundiflora DC KRAMERIACEAE

Synonyms: Krameria pauciflora DC

Chih. & Coah. to Oax. Plants procumbent, woody only near the base. Lvs. simple, linear, to 1.5 cm long, acute, sessile, sericeous. Fls. yellowish, 1 cm long. Fruit coriaceous, globose, densely pilose. The long black roots resemble those of commercial sarsaparilla [Smilax, Smilacaceae] (Standley 1922:347) Root gathered in Cuijingo and Ozumba, Mex. Dried, sent to distant markets, used for diarrhea (Hersch-Martínez 1997) K. pauciflora: Root is astringent. People use the decoction for diarrhea and to firm the hair and the teeth. In 1903 a patient with enterocolitis was given an alcohol extract in a dose of 1 g daily for a week; it worked as an astringent and the patient was restored to health. Dose: an infusion of 10-30 g root in a liter of water, or 1-8 g powder, or extract 50 cg to 4 g. Dr. L. Hernández Chávez says Krameria gives a favorable reaction in curing cancer of the tongue, the stomach and the intestines (Martínez 1959:Medicinales page 90) K. pauciflora: In NL used as a blood tonic, and to clean infected gums and bad teeth (Ford 1975) Name & synonym not in GRIN (GRIN 2007)



Krameria sp. . KRAMERIACEAE

Common names: Chacate (Ford)

Roots are gathered in Mexico State, dried, sent to distant markets, used for diarrhea. Prob. a Krameria; the plant was packaged, and ID is not certain (Hersch-Martínez 1997) In Chih., Tarahumar in the W cañons use the skin to make a poultice for toothache. The skin is ground & applied, alone or mixed with suet (Pennington 1963) In AZ 1964, Papago use an infusion of twigs for sore eyes. Roots for a dye (Ford 1975) In Zaca., for kidney ailments (e), diseases of urinary tract, boil roots, take before breakfast for 9 days. To strengthen the blood, make a wine using boiled roots, sugar & alcohol, take after meals for 15 days (Ford 1975)


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Encyclopedia Americana. 1954. Americana Corp., New York NY.

Flora of Guatemala (Standley, Paul C., Steyermark, Julian). 1946. Part 4: Krameriaceae. Chicago Natural History Museum, Chicago IL.

Ford, K. C. 1975. Las Yerbas de la Gente: A Study of Hispano-American Medicinal Plants. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor MI.

GRIN. 2007. USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program, Germplasm Resources Information Network. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/paper.pl (28 January 2007).

Hersch-Martínez, P. 1997. Medicinal Plants and Regional Traders in Mexico: Physiographic Differences and Conservational Challenge. Economic Botany 51(2):107-120.

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Jaeger, E. C. 1957. The North American Deserts. Stanford University Press, Stanford CA.

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Martínez, M. 1959. Las Plantas Medicinales de Mexico., 4th ed. Ediciones Botas, Mexico DF, Mexico.

Mors, W. B. and C. T. Rizzini. 1966. Useful Plants of Brazil. Holden-Day, San Francisco CA.

Morton, J. F. 1978. Economic Botany in Epidemiology. Economic Botany 32(2):110-116.

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Pennington, C. W. 1980. The Pima Bajo of Central Sonora, Mexico. I. Material Culture. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City UT.

Ruiz, H. 1998 [1777-1788]. The Journals of Hipólito Ruiz. Spanish Botanist in Peru and Chile 1777-1788. Timber Press, Portland OR.

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Willis, J. 1973. A Dictionary of the Flowering Plants and Ferns., 8th ed. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.