- History and Culture
Scutia myrtina is a variable plant that generally grows as a shrub from 2 to 10 meters tall, with a trunk that can reach 30 cm in diameter. It can also grow as a climbing plant with thorns. Its bark is dark, corky and fissured longitudinally and its spines are sharp, hooked and paired at the nodes. The leaves are oval to obovate in shape and are often serrated at the apex, opposite, with a margin that is sometimes wavy. Its flowers are small and whitish in colour and the fruit is a thick-skinned berry and white flesh containing 2 to 3 seeds.
This species is found in coastal regions as well as in higher upland forests. The natural regeneration of liana in the forest can be observed and it can colonize a space quickly. Its seeds are dispersed by birds and geckos.
This species is considered ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN Red List and no action of conservation has been adopted for this species. The risk of decline exists due to habitat loss and the invasion of exotic species.
Walkers fear this plant because of its hooked spines that cling to clothing and skin, causing painful stings, hence the vernacular name of "Wood felt".
The bark is considered purifying and an astringent. It is often used to stop diarrhea and chronic haemorrhages and as a treatment against poisoning by venomous fish.