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Spilanthes acmella is an intriguing garden herb with unusual common names like buzz buttons, eyeball plant, and electric daisy. This herb is also known as Acmella oleoracea. It’s actually very easy to grow Spilanthes and impress your friends and neighbors, and it’s a useful addition to the home apothecary.
Besides having an intriguing appearance and bizarre names, Spilanthes has a very interesting physical property. The leaves and flowers cause your mouth to go numb and salivate profusely when you chew them! As far as herbal uses are concerned, Spilanthes supports immunity and digestive health internally and is a good addition to liniments for topical application.
Grow Spilanthes at Home
Spilanthes is an annual unless you live in a tropical environment. The seeds are very easy to start and no special care is needed. I start my spilanthes seeds outdoors in the spring, using small pots and regular potting soil on the porch. The seeds typically germ in 7-10 days. When they have a few sets of leaves, I transplant them to the garden.
Be careful, though – a single Spilanthes flower creates a ton of seeds! Here’s a look at some immature seeds I found when I was harvesting some Spilanthes. All of these came from a single flower. If you don’t want Spilanthes to self-seed in your garden, you should be religious about harvesting the flowers through the whole growing season. Otherwise you may have it coming up here, there, and everywhere next spring.
Caring for Spilanthes Plants
Spilanthes is a low growing herb that spreads out to the side as it matures. It appreciates generous, regular watering and moist soil. It’s quick to shrivel if it gets thirsty, but a good watering brings it right back.
After a month or so in the garden, Spilanthes begins to produce the characteristic flowers that make it so entertaining. Harvest the flowers periodically before they go to seed, and dry them on screens. Once they are dry, you can use them to make tea or an extract. The leaves can be dried and used as a milder alternative to the flowers, and Spilanthes can also be used fresh for the same purposes.
Insects nibble on the leaves when I grow Spilanthes, but nothing seems to bother the flowers. The damage isn’t very bad, so I haven’t really been concerned. The plants are resilient and don’t seem to mind. However, I can’t help but wonder if there are little bugs running around nearby with very surprised looks on their faces!
I’m an herbalist and author from Atlanta, Georgia. Thanks for visiting my blog! My popular herbal recipe book is full of creative ideas for supporting wellness with adaptogens like rhodiola, holy basil, and ashwagandha. You can learn more about my book here. It’s available for purchase through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or by request at your favorite local book shop!