Angel Wings, Jezebel Root, and Bat’s Head Root
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Amie
Posted on: January 19, 2008

I was looking for info on Angel Wings and when I googled it, I stumbled across your answer to a lady looking for the same info. After MUCH struggle I found a latin name and I found some info (most of it is in Indian or Chinese language so it wasn’t much help!) that I thought I would share.

They are the seed pods of Oroxylum indicum. Here is a website with a picture and some info (in English):

http://www.itmonline.org/arts/oroxylum.htm

This is helpful. Thank you.

Still not sure about that Jezebel Root ;)

Actually, one that keeps stumping ME is called Bat’s Head Root. All I know is that it comes from Mexico and is used in rootwork (Hoodoo). The only plant I found is the Bat’s Head Flower, or St. Peter’s Plant, and that is named for the flower, not the root, so I don’t think it’s the same thing. Any ideas?

I am not familiar with the plant, but I found one commercial website selling bat’s head root that suggests that the plant is Trapa bicornis, an aquatic plant with some colourful names including "bat nut", "horn nut", "devil’s nut", "goat head", "bull head", "water caltrap" and "water chestnut". This is an aquatic plant that produces a nut that looks like a head with two horns or two wings. There is a good picture of the nut here:

http://plants.usda.gov/java/largeImage?imageID=trbi5_001_ahp.tif

Although Trapa bicornis is originally from East Asia, it is naturalized in the southern U.S. and probably in Mexico too. It is a noxious weed in Florida and North Carolina.

I should stress that to be sure of the true identity of bat’s head root one would need to conduct a more thorough investigation. A single reference on a commercial site hardly counts as an authoritative determination of the herb’s identity! There is of course the not-so-minor problem that "bat’s head root" is commonly referred to as a "root from Mexico" while the bat-like nut from Trapa bicornis is clearly not a root. Still, it would not surprise me that these two -- bat’s head root and Trapa bicornis -- are in fact one and the same, because it would not be the first time that obfuscating names are used to mask the true nature or origin of a herb.

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