Medicinal Plants

Photo of medicinal herbs in a rock garden taken on Refugio de Los Angeles
A medicinal herb garden on Refugio de Los Angeles.

The Nicoya Peninsula is one of five Blue Zones in the world, where people commonly live active lives well into their 9th decade. Refugio de Los Angeles is located on the Pacific Slope of this region in the small farming town of Quebrada Grande. Inhabitants of this village have worked the land for generations and have a healthy appreciation for the trees and plants that grow abundantly throughout this mountainous terrain. Long before the Costa Rican government sent doctors into these remote villages, the elders were using the many varieties of trees and plants for medicine, both curative and preventive, with positive results.

Photo of a blue bowl full of fresh picked Turk's Cap Hibiscus
Turk’s Cap Hibiscus.

The medicinal plant knowledge of the elders is passed down with great veneration to the next generation. Women of all ages initiated a community medicinal plant project to gather species in a nursery built in the heart of the village so that this knowledge would be preserved and used in their daily lives. Medicinal plants are grown in the nursery and then transplanted to their home gardens for easier access and use.

Photo of two women pruning and picking plants in a nursery dappled with sunlight and shadow.
Quebrada Grande’s medicinal plant nursery.

Refugio de Los Angeles has gardens dedicated to the preservation, growth, and use of medicinal plants. A noni orchard is the source of daily doses of this potent health drink, followed by a tea of insulin that grows near the kitchen for easy access. This tea helps control cholesterol levels. Carao trees provide the nutritious dark red syrup used as a blood and immune system builder. The workers drink teas daily made from a variety of plants in the gardens, as well as fruit shakes blended with assorted fresh fruits grown on the property. Medicinals are an essential part of the daily diet at Refugio de Los Angeles. Guests remark that after spending time here they feel rejuvenated, energized and restored to good health.

Photo of a Noni tree with Noni fruit
Noni tree with fruit.
Medicinal plant nursery at Refugio de Los Angeles
Medicinal plant nursery on Refugio de Los Angeles.

Partial List of Medicinals at Refugio de Los Angeles

Field studies are in progress to identify other medicinals on the property.
English Spanish Latin
Aloe Sábila Aloe
Aloe Vera plants
Angel’s Trumpet Reina de la noche
Photograph of three Angel's Trumpet bushes in bloom
Angel’s Trumpet
English Spanish Latin
Anise Anis Pimpinella anisum
Arnica Arnica de monte
Bananas (4 Varieties) Bananas Musa
Basil Albahaca Ocimum basilicum
Bitter Melon Sorosí Momordica charantia
Bitterwood Hombre grande Quassia amara
Blue Mate/Blue kills Azul de Mata Justicia tinctoria
Brazilian Copal/Stinking Tree Guapinol Hymenaea courbaril
Bushy Matgrass Juanilama Lippia alba
Cacao Cacao Theobroma cacao
Carpenter’s Bush Tilo Justicia pectoralis
Cayenne Chile picante/Chile rojo Capsicum

Photograph of a bush of cayenne chilis.
Cayenne chilis.
English Spanish Latin
Cecropia Tree Guarumo Cecropia obtusifolia
Century Plant Cabuya

Photograph of a large century plant, which looks like a giant asparagus stalk.
A Century plant sends out an asparagus-like spike when it is about to reproduce.
English Spanish Latin
Chamomile Manzanilla
Chan Chan/Chia
Cilantro Culantro Coyote Eryngium foetidum
Citrus Cítrico Citrus
Coconut tree Palma de coco Cocos nucifera
Coffee Café
Common Plantain Llantén Plantago major
Coral Shower Tree/Sandal Carao Cassia grandis

Cis Wilson, owner of Refugio de Los Angeles, and Jesus pose with Jesus' quick, post lunch, harvest of plantains,
Cis and Jesus with plantains grown on Refugio.
English Spanish Latin
Dandelion Diente de Lion Taraxacum officinale
Dwarf Poinciana Hojasén Caesalpinia pulcherrima
Feverfew Altamisa Tanacentum parthenium
Ginger (2 kinds…Sweet and Strong) Jengibre Zingiber
Golden Shower Cañafistula Cassia fistula
Guacimo/West Indian Elm Guacimo Guazuma ulmifolia
Guava Guayaba Psidium guajava
Hibiscus Rosa de Jamaica (Flor de Jamaica)
Hibiscus /Turk’s Cap (many species) Amapola
Hollowheart Guitite
Horsetail Cola de Caballo
Indianhead Ginger/ Crepe Ginger Cana Agria
Insulin Insulina Justicia spicigera
Jackass bitters Gavilana Neuroloena lobata
Leaf of Life Hoja del Aire Kalanchoe pinnata
Least Mallow Malva
Lemon balm Melissa
Lemon grass Zacate de limon Cymbopogon citratus

Photograph of lemongrass growing in a raised bed
Lemon grass bed.
English Spanish Latin
Mexican marigold/Mexican tarragon Pericon
Moringa Moringa Moringa oleifera
Mother of cacao/Quick stick Madero negro Gliricidia sepium
Mozote caballo Triunfetta lappula
Naked Indian tree/Gumbo limbo Indio desnudo Bursera simaruba
Nance/Shoemaker’s tree Nance/Nancite Bryrsonima crassifolia
Noni Noni Morinda citrifolia
Nutmeg Nuezmoscada
Oregano Oregano
Papaya Papaya Carica papaya
Passionflower Calzoncillo Passiflora biflora
Pau d’arco Cortez negro Tabebuia impetiginosa

Photograph of a red petalled flower with a white bloom and lush green leaves
English Spanish Latin
Peppermint Yerba buena
Pichichio/Cow udder Pichichio Solanum mammosum
Pink Trumpet Tree Roble de Sabana Tabebuia rosea
Prickly Pear Cactus/Nopal Tuna Nopalea cochenillifera

Photograph of a Prickly Pear Cactus (Tuna)
Prickly Pear Cactus (aka Tuna).
English Spanish Latin
Rosemary Romero Rosmarinus officinalis
Rue Ruda Ruta graveolens
Sage Salvia Salvia officinales
Scarlet bush/Polly red head Pico de pajaro Hamelea patens

Scarlett bush (Pico de pajaro)
Scarlett bush (Pico de pajaro)
English Spanish Latin
Sensitive plant Dormilona Mimosa pudica
Snake plant Oreja de mula/ Lengua de suegra Ruta graveolens
Soursop Guanábana Annona muricata
Spearmint Mentha spicata

Photograph of spearmint leaves soaking in a pot in preparation for tea.
English Spanish Latin
Spearmint Mentha
Spinach Espinaca Spinacia oleracea
Spineless yucca Itabo
Spiral Flag Caña Agria Costus spicatus and C. ruber
Sulfatillo Sulfatillo Leonorus sibiricus
Thyme Tomillo Thymus vulgaris
Tree Spinach Chaya Cnidoscolus chayamansa
Turk’s Cap Hibiscus Malvaviscus penduliflorus

Photograph of a Turk's Cap Hibiscus bush in dappled sunlight. Red blooms in a splash of greens and yellows.
Turk’s Cap Hibiscus.
English Spanish Latin
Vetiver Grass Vetiver Chrysopogon zizanioides

Photograph of vetiver grass lining a trail
Vetiver grass and Cabuyas.
English Spanish Latin
Wandering Jew Hoja del Milagro Tradescantia zebrine

Photograph of Cynthia Adler, wearing some crazy multi-colored pants, and standing under gorgeous red blooms, holding some Flor de Itabo.

A Private Nature Preserve For Sale