I grew the Tooth Ache plant last season in a pot at home and at the Oldham County History Center and Blackacre Nature Preserve, a 1700's homestead. It was grown in the ground at the other two sites.
You don't have to wait for it to reach a particular stage of development before it can be harvested. You can pick leaves at any time, although the flowers are the strongest part of the plant. It is non-toxic. This plant is a perennial in zones 10-11 It is killed by frost, so in other areas, treat as an annual, which you must reseed every year. It gets 1-1.5 feet high.
On Jan 1, 2005, Lem79 from Gold Coast Australia wrote:
I have one of these in a pot in my garden, lovely little thing it is. It's a great novelty when people come to visit aswell .. "Here, chew on one of these leaves" .. :) (10 seconds of chewing, "ooh, that tingles" .. "hey, that made my mouth numb!")
My own account of the local anaesthesia is.. 5-10 seconds of chewing, then a tingling in the area of the mouth in contact with the leaves, sort of tastes like lemon, then a numbness follows. The anaesthesia (not complete, though I have never tried more than one small leaf at once) lasts approximately five minutes.
Excellent fun, highly recommended!
Update: .. Try one of the flowers, about five times as potent as the leaves (at least), awesome :)
On Sep 29, 2004, tcfromky from Mercer, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:
Historical medicinal herb with unique acorn-shaped orange-yellow flowers. An unusual container or flowerbed plant. It has striking cone-like flowers with no flower petals, but instead, exhibits golden 'buds' with a rust-red center! Quite an eye-catcher. :)
On Aug 18, 2004, mocloa from Hendersonville, TN wrote:
Had never heard of this plant before seeing it on the plantdatabase. I was amazed, but never really thought much about it. At Opryland Hotel in Nashville, there is a section that is landscaped with "eyeball plant". When I saw it, I thought it rather odd and that it did indeed look like it could be an eyeball, Checked back with the site and sure enough that was it.
Toothache Plant will bloom year-round in northeast Florida (U.S.) if protected from freezes.
It likes a slightly acid soil, organic fertilizer works well.
Can propagate from feathery seeds - cover with 1/8 to 1/4 inch of soil,and keep moist. Sow thinly to make it easier to separate plants. Grows best in a spot that receives morning sun and afternoon shade.
On Aug 13, 2001, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:
Spilanthes oleracea is very beautiful, and can be grown as an annual in most climates. It has striking cone-like flowers, much smaller than Echinacea. There are no flower petals, but golden buds with a rust-red center (which look like an eyeball.)
This plant is called Toothache Plant because you can chew on the fresh or dried flower, or take the extract to help deaden pain from a tooth until you can visit the dentist. It is not only topically anesthetic for gums and teeth, but it is also bacteriostatic, helping to fight tooth decay.
This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:
Phoenix, Arizona North Little Rock, Arkansas Combee Settlement, Florida Loxahatchee, Florida St Petersburg, Florida Thunderbolt, Georgia Villa Rica, Georgia Coldstream, Kentucky Prospect, Kentucky Covington, Louisiana Cresaptown-bel Air, Maryland Saucier, Mississippi Rogersville, Missouri Elizabeth City, North Carolina Columbia Station, Ohio Hulbert, Oklahoma Algood, Tennessee Hendersonville, Tennessee Middleton, Tennessee Corpus Christi, Texas Houston, Texas Kerrville, Texas Richmond, Texas Sunset Valley, Texas Victoria, Texas