NOTE: THESE SEEDS ARE WIDELY KNOWN TO BE DIFFICULT
TO GERMINATE. GERMINATION CAN BE PROLONGED AND
UNRELIABLE. NO REPLACEMENTS UNLESS THE SEEDS ARE
RECEIVED DAMAGED OR ARE NOT RECEIVED DUE TO
BEING LOST IN TRANSIT.
Turnera diffusa Willd. ex Schult. var. diffusa
syn. Turnera diffusa Willd. ex Schult. var. aphrodisiaca (G.H.Ward) Urb.
Damiana, Hierba del Venado, Hierba de Vemulo, Hierba de la Pastora, Hierba de la Pastorcita, Hierba del Ahorcado, Mizibcoc, Oreganillo, Malva Blanca, Mejorana, Orégano Cimarrón, Rompecamisas macho, Old Woman's Broom, Mexican Holly
Damiana is an aromatic, shrubby perennial that can reach 1-2 meters (3 to 6 feet) high, that grows on the brushy hillsides along the Rio Grande in South Texas, into West Texas, Southern California, throughout Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies, as well as in parts of South America.
Damiana bears aromatic, serrate leaves that are 10-25 cm (4-10 inches) long. Small yellow-orange, 5-petaled flowers, about 1 cm (1/2 inch) long, are borne in the late-summer months. The flowers are followed by 3-valved fruits, about 2 cm (3/4 inches) across, with a sweet smell and fig-like flavor with numerous tiny, pear-shaped seeds.
Damiana can be kept as an indoor houseplant or used outdoors for summer landscaping. Damiana requires a warm or hot climate and full sun. Other than a preference for neutral to alkaline soils, it has no specific soil type requirements, and even grows well in the desert. It is drought-tolerant once established making it suitable for xeriscaping.
Mulch the roots of the plant in early autumn. Despite the fact that the damiana is a tropical plant, it is usually hardy to U.S.D.A. zone 9, or about (-5°C.) 23°F. Although the cold weather may damage the upper part of the plant, the rootstock will normally re-sprout in the spring if it has been well insulated through the winter.
The dried leaves, which are harvested during the flowering season, are used for tea and an extract is used to make a liqueur called Damiana, which is popular in Mexico as a substitute for Cointreau, or added to hot cinnamon tea.
The leaves of Damiana are said to have antidepressant and aphrodisiac properties. Though renowned as an aphrodisiac, there is no clinical evidence for such an effect. Its use as an aphrodisiac dates back to prehistoric Mayan times, and it has remained popular as an aphrodisiac in Central and South America since.
Outdoors, sow seeds in spring. Indoors, sow anytime, using supplemental heat if necessary for germination. Keep the soil moist, not wet, until germination occurs. Once germinated keep the soil on the drier to semi-moist side to help prevent fungal disease. Allow the soil to become dry before re-watering. Place it near a window that receives full sunlight. It is recommenced to continue growing the young plant indoors through its first winter until early summer. The plant may then be transferred outdoors or kept inside as a houseplant or in a greenhouse.