Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Hi all,

I am searching for traditional chinese healing plants.

In particular, this plant is known for healing ingrown nails.

My grandparents used to call it the fingernail plant because they use it to heal ingrown nails. Basically the leaves are crushed in a mortar and pestle and applied to the affected nail. It turns the area in contact a yellowish hue (much like iodine or tumeric root) and we wrap it in a gauze for a couple of days.

Have anyone heard of such remedies? Also other remedies that your ancestors used?



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I don't have any ancestor lore, wish I did :D lol. Anything they knew was left behind in Ireland or England in the mid 1800's.

You need to come up with a name for the plant Matt - not telling you anything you don't already know. Can anyone back home enlighten you? A friends parents?

I just emailed the Singapore Botanic Gardens - fingers crossed, someone might respond with a name for you.

There would be therapeutic Australian native plant training sessions out there if you hunted - I would start with native plant nurseries if making enquiries. Here's two KUMBARTCHO QLD  

I had a casual discussion on this fingernail plant thingy with somebody the previous weekend. The fellow did mention something that sounded like a common name. Unfortunately I wasn't paying much attention and I may not see him again for weeks or months. Doh.

impatiens balsamina is the name given to me.. Is this the common balsam plant that has seed pods that pop open like fireworks?

Interesting. That should be easily obtained here in Aus.

According to this Ayurvedic medicine site it's good for the following - vitiated/nonvitiated pitta seems to be a bit like yin and yang from a brief research:

Plant pacifies vitiated pitta, inflammation, burns and scalds, ulcers, constipation, arthritis, urinary retention and excessive exfoliation of skin.
Useful part : Whole plant.

Isabel Shippard doesn't seem to have anything on it on her site.

Chinese websites seem to point to the Henna Plant.. but it looks different to this impatiens balsamina.. though it stains/colours similar to henna.

What made you think it was impatiens balsamina Matt?

Hey Matt

I heard back from the Singapore Bontanic Gardens. Pretty much what you thought. Can you or Joseph read Chinese?:

Our Horticulture team have advised that the Fingernail Plant is known by the older generation in Singapore to be the common Balsam Plant (Impatiens balsamina).

You may like to refer to the Chinese website below. It documents one of its common Chinese names being the “Fingernail Plant”. A translation from the text from the website below on the uses of the plant found at the end of the article, which says that the leaves and flowers are used to dye the fingernails (民间常用其花及叶染指甲).

Another website (below) indicates that the plant is used to a fungal disease affecting the toenails (灰指甲, onychomycosis), which causes the nail to deform, discolour and not grow properly:

Hope this clarifies.  We wish you a good week ahead.

Yours sincerely

Suryani Khamis

Visitor Services

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Thanks Lissa! I will keep the botanic gardens in Singapore as a resource in future!! This is exciting!!

Good stuff :)

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