Hawaiian Baby Woodrose Plants: Properties & Uses (2023)

The Hawaiian baby woodrose (Argyreia nervosa) is a perennial climbing vine, also referred to as the wooly morning glory or elephant creeper. It’s part of the Morning Glory or Convolvulaceae family, and native to southern India but can now be found in many areas, especially tropical areas. It’s known for its psychoactive effects and potential medicinal properties.

The Hawaiian baby woodrose is also known as the woolly morning glory or elephant creeper. It’s a woody perennial vine with large, cordate(heart-shaped) leaves—the leaves may measure up to 30cm across, and are roughlyas long as they are wide. Leaves are also glabrous (hairless) above andwhite-tomentose (silvery, hairy) on their undersides.

A mature baby woodrose vine may reach 9m or more inheight—such specimens are often many years old, however, as it’s a slow-growingspecies that often takes over two years to reach just 30cm in height. Thiscontrasts with the related Convolvulaceae species, Mexican morningglory (a well-known source of LSA, and the species that is often simply termed‘morning glory’ as it’s considered soubiquitous and representative of the family).

The flowers of the baby woodrose are trumpet-shapedand bisexual, measuring around 5cm across and expressing a range of pigments,from whitish-pink to deep bluish-violet. The flowers die off to reveal thecharacteristic seed pods for which the plant is commonly named. These pods areround, woody capsules, surrounded by five-petal calyxes, which have the overallappearance of small roses carved from wood. There are four to six hard, brownseeds per pod and seeds often have a furry, mould-like coating, depending onvariety.

Cultural & traditional use of Hawaiian baby woodrose

In Hawaii, the baby woodrose has reportedly been used for thousands of years as a cheap alternative to cannabis and alcohol, as well as having some religious and spiritual significance. It’s believed that—almost uniquely among plant hallucinogens—the Hawaiian baby woodrose was not widely known as an entheogen until the 1960s, subsequent to research on related morning glories.

Outside of Hawaii, baby woodrose has been cultivated for hundreds, if not thousands of years—if not for entheogenic purposes, certainly for medicinal and ornamental ones. Indian Ayurvedic medicine makes use of baby woodrose as a treatment for elephantiasis, and to treat rheumatism.

In India, traditional names for baby woodrose includebastantri (Sanskrit) and samandar-ka-pat (Hindi). Some have even postulated thebaby woodrose as a potential candidate for the legendary soma, a plant referredto repeatedly in the Rigveda (one of the four ancient Sanskrit texts, theVedas, which are sacred in Hinduism).

Hawaiian Baby Woodrose Plants: Properties & Uses (1)

Distribution & habitat

Despite its name, the baby woodrose isn’t native toHawaii – it was something that must have been introduced to the area, alongwith many areas in Africa and the Caribbean. It’s actually indigenous to theIndian subcontinent. It’s also found in Australia, the Malay Peninsula andChina, as well as many other locations in the region, and is believed to haveescaped from cultivation in most instances.

The baby woodrose prefers tropical or subtropicalclimates, and will thrive in protected, sunny spots with moist, fertile soiland good drainage. It’s able to germinate easily under thick forest canopy ordense grass cover due to its nature as a climbing plant.

There are two subspecies of baby woodrose: A.nervosa var. nervosa and A. nervosa var. speciosa. The latter has nopsychoactive properties, but the roots and leaves are used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for erectile dysfunction, syphilis,diabetes, and many other complaints, particularly those related to thedigestive system.

Hawaiian Baby Woodrose Plants: Properties & Uses (2)

How Hawaiian baby woodrose is cultivated

Baby woodrose is typically propagated through use of scarified seeds or cuttings.Seeds are first scarified (lightly scored with a sharp, clean blade) and thensoaked for 24 hours to induce germination. The seeds or cuttings are sown atleast 1.5m apart to allow the extensive root systems sufficient space todevelop. Use of support structures is necessary so that the vine can climb; atrellis, wall or tree is the most common solution.

Baby woodrose is planted in the late spring or earlysummer, and should be frequently but lightly watered with plain, unfertilisedwater. High-nitrogen fertilisers should not be used, as these can encourageexcess leaf production and reduce flower formation. Instead, a bloom-boostingfertiliser should be used just once per month to encourage the flowers thatwill ultimately yield the desired seed pods.

Once the vines have reached a sufficient level ofmaturity, they’ll begin to put out flowers. This usually occurs in the springand summer following initial planting, after the vines have had almost a fullyear of growth. Some varieties may need at least two or three years beforeyielding a substantial harvest; even then, if environmental conditions are lessthan optimum flower formation will not be vigorous.

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Purchasing Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds

There are many different varieties of baby woodrose,and the concentration of alkaloids may vary widely. Some varieties containlittle to no LSA, others have very high concentrations—hence, the number ofseeds needed for a full dose may vary greatly between varieties.

The seed produced in India and Africa is mainly of the A. nervosa var. speciosa variety and contains little to no LSA. A.nervosa var. nervosa varieties are also grown in these locations, but areusually lower in alkaloid concentration than those cultivated in Hawaii.

Hawaiian Baby Woodrose Plants: Properties & Uses (4)

Although nervosa seeds are mainly produced in Hawaii,small-scale cultivation also occurs in northern Australia. Nervosa seeds areusually higher in price than speciosa and are not as abundant on the globalmarket. For this reason, some unscrupulous seed suppliers may sell speciosaseeds as nervosa. I If planning a purchase, be sure to read consumer forums andreviews to get advice on reputable suppliers.

If purchased online, seeds should be checked forquality and freshness—there are several tell-tale signs to look out for thatinexperienced users may not be aware of. Healthy seeds should be darkchocolate-brown, irregularly-shaped, and measuring between 2.5mm and 5mm indiameter. African seeds are smooth-surfaced and much paler than Hawaiian;Indian 87 seeds are larger and more oval in shape, and Indian nervosa seeds aresmaller and less fuzzy.

Effects & pharmacology of Hawaiian baby woodrose

Baby woodrose is known for producing a dream-like‘trip’ that can last up to eight hours, with a further twelvehours of relaxed, tranquil sensations. Hallucinations are less intense—and lesscommon—than with LSD, and side-effects may include nausea and other stomachcomplaints. These side-effects are more common with whole seed than withextracts.

The seeds of the Hawaiian baby woodrose contain theergoline alkaloids ergonovine and ergine. Ergine is also referred to as LSA(lysergic acid amide), and is of particularly close chemical similarity tolysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Ergonovine (also known as ergometrine) andLSA are both precursors to LSD and are controlled substances in severalcountries.

Ergoline alkaloids are thus named as they are alsofound in ergot fungi—parasitic species of fungi that infect rye and similargrains. This fungi has beenimplicatedin outbreaks of mass hallucination or hysteria at variouspoints throughout the history of settled agriculture.

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LSA & ergonovine

Ergonovine has several medicinal uses, which are thought to arisefrom its capacity to cause vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels).When used as an adjunct with oxytocin, it reduces the risk of post-partumhaemorrhage; it can also be used to induce spasm of the coronary arteries insufferers of Prinzmetal’s angina and is a useful tool for diagnosis.

When administered in doses significantly larger thanthose used medicinally (2-10mg compared to 0.2-1mg), it’s believed that ergonovine may have psychedelic properties.

LSA is the most well-known compound found in baby woodrose seeds; each seed contains around 10µg, around 0.13% of overall dry weight. When eaten whole, not many seeds are required to experience any psychoactive effects. Caution should be exercised when consuming whole seeds, as ascertaining precise dosages is impossible. This is a rough guide for dosage:

Threshold: 1 – 3 seeds

Light: 3 – 5 seeds

Common: 5 – 7 seeds

Strong: 7 – 12 seeds

Heavy: 12 seeds +

LSA has similar effects to LSD, but is far lesspsychedelic, and can be sedating in larger doses. Users report experiencing adream-like state, in which consciousness is fully maintained; hallucinationsare rare, but may occur at lower doses. LSA and ergonovine are both weak agonistsof the dopamine type-2 receptor, as is common among plant-derived alkaloids.

How Hawaiian baby woodrose is prepared

Often, users of baby woodrose will consume the seedswhole, without any form of processing—although it’s recommended to scrape orgently burn off the furry seed-coating before consumption. This step may alsoremove chemical treatments present on the seed; however, it’s highly advisableto source seeds which are entirely untreated.

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Those wishing to maximise efficiency and speed ofdelivery—or to minimise the risk of nausea and stomach cramps—may follow one ofseveral techniques.

To increase the absorption rate of the activecompounds contained within the seeds, a common technique involves first removingthe husks, before crushing the seeds with scissors or a coffee grinder andsteeping them in hot (but not boiling) distilled water. By the time the waterreaches room temperature, the alkaloids contained within the seeds dissolve andcan be drunk along with the water and seeds.

With this technique, there are additional tweaks thatcan be performed to decrease the nausea-inducing side-effects. For example,garlic can be added to the solution, stirred well, and left for thirty minutes.Garlic contains sulphur that reacts with compounds in the baby woodrose andnegates its nauseating effects. Various flavourings may also be added todisguise the bitter taste of the solution.

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LSA solvent extraction

If full extraction of the LSA is desired, withoutretention of the seeds’ vegetative material, this method can be utilised. Theprocedure requires both a non-polar solvent (petroleum ether is, althoughvolatile, safer than toxic alternatives such asbenzene) and a polar solvent (pure ethanol, NOT denatured, is the bestchoice). Freshly ground seeds are steeped in the non-polarsolution for several days; after this period, the solution (the liquid) isdiscarded and the residual seed material is retained.

The residue is dried fully to evaporate traces of the polar solvent. Then, the dry residue is steeped in the non-polar solvent for a day or two, and then filtered several times through coffee filters. This time, the solution is retained, and the residual material discarded. The polar solution is then left for several days, so the solvent can evaporate; a brownish, gummy paste will remain, which can be scraped up with a spoon or credit card and consumed as is.

While theHawaiian baby woodrose is commonly enjoyed for its mind-altering, LSD-likeexperience, it also may hold many medicinal benefits as well. How it’s used andthe dosage will have an impact on that experience and users should be aware oflocal laws on its use.

  • Disclaimer:

    Laws and regulations regarding cannabis cultivation differ from country to country. Sensi Seeds therefore strongly advises you to check your local laws and regulations. Do not act in conflict with the law.

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