A garden plant in the UK with medicinal uses in Nepal


Pieris may be familiar to you as a garden plant, as it is widely grown in the UK. It is evergreen, with glossy, dark green leaves but often the young leaves are an attractive shade of red. It has pretty white bell-like flowers in the spring and well deserves its specific name ‘formosa’ which comes from the Latin meaning ‘beautiful’.

In Nepal it is common at the edges of forests, on open slopes and along trails, and it grows up to an altitude of 3500 m. Snow is common during winter at that altitude, so it is hardy throughout the UK. Like most members of the Ericaceae family it prefers acid soils.

One reason that Pieris is common in Nepal is that its leaves are poisonous to cattle, so it is not browsed by them. Its leaves are used medicinally to treat intestinal worms as well as scabies.