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Toothache Plant / Szechuan Buttons (Acmella oleracea)

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Common names: Toothache Plant, Szechuan Buttons, Paracress, Jambu, Buzz Buttons, Tingflowers, Electric Daisy
Scientific name: Acmella oleracea
Family: Asteraceae

Plant history & use:

This unique plant has electrical & numbing properties. Gourmet chefs around the world sprinkle a few of the flower's stamens into the food to give the guest a unique sensation. It starts with a faint electric "touch" that turns into a pretty numbing feeling. The feeling can be compared to that which the Szechuan pepper evokes. That is why the flower buds are sometimes called "Szechuan buttons".

Fresh leaves are still used to this day to relieve toothache by chewing them. This is thanks to the numbing and antibacterial properties of the leaves. Chewing the leaves also gives a refreshing feeling and counteracts dry mouth.

Historically, the leaves have been chewed on to relieve throat & palate infections.

Thanks to the muscle-relaxing properties of A. oleracea, the plant is also used in natural anti-wrinkle agents and is sometimes referred to as "nature's botox".

The whole plant is edible.

The flower buds can be used as a topping in anything ranging from cocktails to pasta & fish dishes - only creativity sets the limits. The leaves are used in salads and stews.

Paracress is an effective attractor of pollinators.


In the wild, paracress grows in somewhat warmer climates, often in moist soils. However, the plant can withstand periods of drought.

In temperate climates, it is best grown in a pot, either indoors or outdoors. Overwintering should be frost-free. 

In subtropical and tropical climates it can be grown directly in the ground year round, and provide you with its electric & numbing properties year after year.

Placement should be in sun or partial shade.

Thrives best in a well-drained, loamy soil. Potting soil works great.

Grows quickly into a winding shrub. If sown in March, the plant blooms already at the end of June.


Sow the seeds on top of moist soil. Do not cover the seeds. Keep the seed moist. Germination time is usually 5-15 days.


Lifespan: Perennial
Location: Sun/Part shade
Height: 30 cm
Germination Time: 5-15 days
USDA Zone: 9-11