Kinwōj (Hedyotis biflora - Rubiaceae)

Photo above: Kinwoj (Hedyotis biflora)

Description: Kinwōj is a small, erect, weak-stemmed herb that grows to heights of about 40 cm (16 in) with spreading branches. The leaves of kinwōj are elliptical to oval in shape and about 1-6 cm (.5-2 in) long. The flowers are tiny, white and tubular; and the small, dry fruit capsules are borne on a long, thin stalk and contain many tiny black seeds.

Distribution: Hedyotis biflora is widespread in the tropical Pacific and can be found as far away as tropical Asia and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. The origin of this small herbaceous species in the Marshall Islands is not fully known. It may not be a native plant. It may have been introduced by people (probably accidentally because of its tiny seeds) before or after European contact. It has been reported from Aelōñļapļap, Arņo, Jālooj, Likiep, Mājro, Mājeej, and Wōjjā.

Uses: Kinwōj is used medicinally for several kinds of sickness. One medicinal recipe indicates that a whole plant of kinwōj should be washed and mixed together with a whole mariko (Centella asiatica) plant, then pounded. The preparer then places the pounded mass in a piece of cloth, adds water, and squeezes the mixture into a clam receptacle. The patient drinks three clam shells full of the watery mixture; this is repeated three times. Kinwōj also provides pig feed.

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