Bacano. Bois Cano. Cecropia Tree, Boiscano Trumpet Bush. Monkey Tail Tree.

Bacano leaves: Fight flu, build immune system, grow hair

Among the list of wondrous plants with many household uses are bacano or bois cano leaves. The tree is also known as Cecropia Tree, Boiscano Trumpet Bush and Monkey Tail Tree mainly because the sweet fruit resembles a monkey’s tail.

The trees are found towering out of crevices on roadsides, in backyards, forested areas and pastures worldwide. It is a pioneer species that grows quickly and poses a threat to natural eco-systems in some countries. The trunk is hollow which facilitates the tree’s rapid growth and people use the hollow bark to make rope and handles for tools and musical instruments.

What’s inside the bacano leaves

Benefits are enjoyed when using the dark green leaves that spread large and wide atop the tree as well as using the numerous dried brown fist-like leaves that are shrivelled on the ground. A superstitious belief in the Caribbean is that only the fallen dried leaves facing upward should be used for medicinal purposes.

According to MedicinalHerbs, some of the chemical compounds of the tree includes lipids, flavonoids, alkaloids, resins, tannins,glycosides, stearic acid, ursolinic acid, cardenolides, triterpenes, polyphenols, as well as steroids. If you suffer from a serious condition, it is advised that you consult with a medical doctor before using natural remedies to treat yourself.

Use of dried bacano leaves

The dried bacano leaves are used as a stimulant or a tobacco substitute and as “bush medicine” to treat numerous ailments by people in the Caribbean. They make tea for colds, flu, runny nose, cough, sinus, poor appetite, constipation, typhoid fever, Parkinson’s disease, nervous conditions, diabetes, high blood pressure, haemorrhaging, kidney conditions and to boost immune system. Here is a simple tea recipe for the dried bacano leaves.

Bacano Tea

1 dried bacano leaf

4 cups boiled water

2 bay leaves (optional)

2 spice sticks (optional)

Honey (optional)

Let bacano leaf, bay leaves and spice brew in boiled water until warm

Add honey to taste

Drink a cup 3 or 4 times a day

Use of fresh bacano leaves

Fresh bacano leaves are popularly used for skin rash and to shampoo natural hair. The nutrients in the leaves repair damaged skin and hair when applied externally as a paste. Prolonged use of the shampoo is known to moisturise hair, untangle knots, give hair volume, leave hair shiny and promote hair growth. It can be used regularly for fast results. Here is a simple recipe for a paste to apply to damaged skin and to use as shampoo for healthy hair.

Bacano Paste for Skin and Hair

4 green leaves (add more if necessary)

Mortar and pestle

Cheese cloth


1 cup water

Crush leaves using mortar and pestle until a paste is formed

Wrap paste in cheese cloth

Wring green liquid into bowl until the cheese cloth is dry

Add water to bowl and stir until creamy

Rub on affected area on skin and leave for 20 minutes before rinsing off

Wash hair with bacano shampoo at least 3 times a week

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