Fundamental Santería Plants: Prodigiosa or Ewe Dún Dún©

Prodigiosa or Ewe dún dún

It has rained quite a bit since I learned about this fascinating plant. Back then, the world of Santería was an unraveling mystery filled with scents, sounds and colors that set my imagination, senses and spirit on fire. I remember with awe the first time I held a Prodigiosa leaf in my hand. I was fascinated by the fact that a single leaf of Prodigiosa (Kalanchoe pinnata o Bryophyllum pinnatum) could easily become micro cosmos of wonders sprouting several offspring’s from the edges of the leaf. Later on I found that this is a common trait of the members of the Crassulaceae family, Bryophyllum section of the Kalanchoe genus, which can grow the plantlets without being potted or having water because of its succulent nature.

It is interesting to notice that a plant that crucial in the process of initiation into Santería is not original from Nigeria or from West Africa. Kalanchoe pinnata or Bryophyllum pinnatum by its scientific name hails from Madagascar and it has spread to other areas of the world where it is also admired by many of its attributes.

This plant is known by several names. Under the title of ewe there are several variants of the name: Ewe dún dún/odún dún,and ewe obamoda/abomoda. In Spanish Prodigiosa is also known as Siempre Viva, Yerba Bruja, Inmortal, Flor de Aire, Hoja de Aire, and Hoja Bruja. In other parts of the world the names go from Love Leaf, Mystical Caribbean in North America, to NeverDie or Armapoi in India, Féy Lougarou in Haiti, and even Q’uora Wayra in Perú, such is the popularity and regionalization that it has acquired.

Overall there is plenty of lore associated to the Prodigiosa. Some people say that if you write the name of a person you love and then place a leaf of Prodigiosa over it, love will grow as well. However, setting aside magical uses, let’s look at this plant from another point of view focusing on some important data on botany. Responsible use of plants should include an understanding that goes beyond hand me down information, it is important to support tradition with science whenever possible, particularly when plants are ingested, such as the case of a plant that goes to making omiero (ritual water for initiation made of plants and many other ingredients).

The plants from the Crassulaceae family such as Prodigiosa do contain bufadienolide a group of toxic cardiac glycosides found mainly in members of Crassulaceae family, this chemical is also found in the skin and skin glands of toads, such as the Bufo marinus or the lovely Cane toad whose skin is toxic to many animals and has been introduced in the Caribbean as an agricultural pest control. What does this means to you? It means that it is important to be careful as to the use of Prodigiosa because it can cause human toxicity. Ancient Romans and Egyptians first discovered the use of toxic cardiac glycosides (not that they used the term back then!) as emetics and to treat heart ailments.

With regards to the use of Prodigiosa in Santeria, it is associated with both Eleguá and Obatalá and it is one of the four main plants that go to the creation of omiero, its ritual song during the process of lavatorio goes as follows:

“Se ekun boro de wa o (3)
Se ekun boro ewe dún dún”
Ewe dun dun vers 1

There is another version of the song that can also be found:

“Dede boro dewao, dede boro dewao,
dede boro ewe dún dún”
Ewe dun dun vers 2

Both of these songs allude to the blocking negativity and the sweetness of Ewe dún dún Along with Hierba Fina (Cynodon dactylon), Peregún (Dracaena manni), and Atiponlá (Boerhaavia erecta), Ewe dún dún becomes one of the four pillar herbs that must be present during kariosha.

Even after growing this plant for years, I have yet to see Ewe dún dún in bloom but from photos on the Internet it looks quite pretty and it normally blooms in winter and early spring. This plant is extremely hardy and it is suitable for xeriscape gardens for those of you who are into water conservation.

I hope you found some interesting facts to make you appreciate Ewe dún dún in a different light. The next three articles on this featured miniseries will be devoted to Hierba Fina, Peregún and Atiponlá. As usual, readers are welcome to add comments on their particular experiences with this or any other subject. As we say in the Santeria community, knowledge is shared amongst all of us.

Omimelli
Oní Yemayá Achagbá

P.S. As with all the posts on this site, please respect author’s rights as they are copywrighted and require written persmission (info@themysticcup.com) prior to any kind of reproduction or re-posting. Simply placing an attribution to the source of material does not grant permission for usage.

About Omimelli

I am a Olosha or Santera and for years I have been at the service of the Orisha and the community. I am initiated to Yemayá and my father in osha is Aganjú. I am also an initiate of Palo Mayombe and hold the title of Yaya Nkisi. As part of my daily devotional I spend time at my bóveda and work with my spirits on regular basis.
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21 Responses to Fundamental Santería Plants: Prodigiosa or Ewe Dún Dún©

  1. tata nkisi lucero vira mundo says:

    I love my siempre viva – i almost have an entire gardens worth of it growing on my porch.

    • tata nkisi lucero vira mundo says:

      I have also seen it called Mother of a Thousand.

    • Omimelli says:

      Tata,

      As you can see, it is not a plant I am missing in my backyard. 🙂 I am sure mother of thousand is also a really good name for it. I wonder if it is maybe father of thousand…I have not lifted the skirts of this plant. hehehe.

      Omimelli

  2. Dr. Eric Montgomery says:

    this plant is used in the phillippines for a plethora of issues. I also know that it can do wonders for sickle-cell disease and is used a lot by the Ewe in Ghana and Togo

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      Hi
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  4. misslyn38 says:

    In Puerto Rico I was told that this plant is great for when you have an ear infection. They boil the leaf and cool it then drop a couple of drops in the infected ear. Has anyone ever done or heard of such thing?

    • fred says:

      When I was in PR, we took a leaf from the yerba bruja, heated it directly over a low flame ( a candle ) then I squezed juice from the leaf into my infected ear….the relief was instant! It cured the ear infection. I believe this plant may be anti fungal as well as a bacteria killer! it works great for ear ache! I am currently propagating some babies…what a wonderful plant!

  5. Lonnie says:

    Pretty nice post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I’ve really loved browsing your weblog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I am hoping you write once more soon!

  6. Ochaalainu says:

    Bendicion
    Well writren and informative, clear and
    passionate. mucho ase para ti
    THANK YOU.

  7. OceanLove7 says:

    I love this plant and have the same plant growing for some years now. As a herb gardener I like to experiment with teas and last summer I blended some leaves of mint, prodigioso, lemon verbena and sweet basil–it made a delicious, sweet smelling tea. Of course I have no clue whether this tea had any spiritual merit, I just put together things like that when the spirit moves me!

  8. fred says:

    I am propagating this plant, give me a shout if you want any….once my plants grow out I will have some to share! peace, Fred

    • Ana Woolf says:

      Hey Fred, if im not mistaken we just met at your home during a bbq here in PA,if it is you thank you for intrucing me to your beautiful garden and to yerba bruja, i did get a leaf before we left and its on some dirt so i will let you know how it grows 🙂 you can contact me at XXXX. (Note from site manager: We do not post email addresses on the blog at all).

    • jane p jacobsen says:

      HI FRED,
      I JUST READ YR POST REGARDING THAT YOU ARE PROPAGATING YR PRODIGIOSO PLANTS. I WOULD LOVE TO GET WITH YOU IF YOU HAVE SOME TO SHARE. I WILL BUY THEM IF NEEDED . I AM ON FACE BOOK AS WELL. SEND ME A FRIEND REQUEST. JANE JACOBSEN, ARIZONA. I LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING FROM U. THANK YOU

  9. gamble says:

    That is a good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise information… Thank you for sharing this one. A must read article!

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  11. olga martinez says:

    so is prodigiosa safe ingest…say like a tea of prodigiosa….for someone who has hepatitis or anyone?????

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  13. Luz says:

    How do you grow prodigiosa plant, by the stems or leaves? Thanks.

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