Alluai! Fishing With Euphorbia Juice 0 Comments

Alluai! Fishing With Euphorbia Juice

In Sardinia grows a variety of euphorbia very common in the countryside. It is a shrub with roundish foliage, which produces yellow flowers from January to April and goes into hibernation in the warmer season. The plant, which in Sardinian is called "Sa Lua" contains a toxic latex, strongly stinging for the mucous membranes and the skin, with soporific and perhaps even hallucinogenic properties. The fact is that for centuries in Sardinia this latex was used for fishing.

Alluai, literally spurging, means to fish with the euphorbia juice and Alluadori, spurger, is the one fishing with sa lua. S'alluadori, the spurger, eradicates a big bundle of seedlings of euphorbia, using the roots, where the latex is more concentrated, in the quantity necessary to the volume of water to alluai, to drug; experience consents that the quantity of lua used doesn’t impair the edibility of the fish. The roots, mashed between two stones, are thrown into the water, doping the fish in that area. Su pisci alluau, the doped fish, come to the surface numb and can be easily caught with bare hands. "Paridi u pisci alluau!" Is a very common way of addressing a confused and bewildered person: "You look like a spurged fish!" (doped with euphorbia).

In the last period of the Second World War, when more and more young boys were recruited, it is said that some of them, to avoid being recruited, before the call rubbed his eyes with the euphorbia latex, causing temporary blindness as well as intense pain, but the painful trick was soon revealed, and the poor boys were forced to leave for the battlefront.

A few years ago a group of researchers from the Molecular Biology Faculty of the University of Cagliari, isolated a protein from the latex of Euphorbia that can significantly reduce the development of the protozoa that cause leishmaniasis, an important parasitic disease that affects many dogs in Sardinia (seldomly humans) transmitted by the sand flies.

The wonders of nature are truly endless. Nobel prize author Grazia Deledda, in her suggestive descriptions of the Sardinian landscape, never forgets to mention the euphorbia:

[…] “The whole plain sparkles for  the oblique sun; every reed has a silver thread, from each euphorbia shrub rises a bird's cry

[…] ”This vegetation alternates glimpses of courtyards and open spaces permeated with the scent of jasmine, of the violet or euphorbia and grey gardens, enlivened by the gold of the flowering prickly pears or the red blood of pomegranates.


Written by Daniela Toti


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