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Record Number


PROSEA Handbook Number

12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2


Achyranthes aspera L.

This article should be read together with the article on the genus: Achyranthes in the Handbook volume indicated above in this database.


Sp. pl. 1: 204 (1753).


Achyranthes obtusifolia Lamk (1785), Achyranthes canescens R.Br. (1810), Achyranthes argentea Decne (1834).

Vernacular Names

Prickly chaff flower (En). Indonesia: jarong (Javanese), jarong lalaki (Sundanese), sangko hidung (Moluccas). Malaysia: ara songsang, nyarang sunsang. Papua New Guinea: towano (North Bougainville). Philippines: hangod (Tagalog), higad-higad (Iloko), saramat (Bisaya). Thailand: khuai nguu, phan nguu (central), yaa teen nguu khaao (Bangkok). Laos: khoy ngou. Vietnam: c[or] x[uw][ows]c.


Throughout the Old World tropics, including Malesia and Australia, and introduced into tropical America.


The root, seeds or whole plant are widely used for medicinal purposes. The leaves are applied to wounds, and to mature abscesses and boils. A decoction of the root is drunk for rheumatism, stomach-ache, menstruation pains, absence of menstruation or as an abortifacient. The sap from the plant is taken for dysentery and rheumatism. In Papua New Guinea, the leaves or roots are applied on boils and swollen legs. In Thailand, the roots are used as an anti-inflammatory and a diuretic.


A variable, annual to perennial herb, 30—120 cm tall, stem angular, ribbed, stiff, nodes thickened, variably pubescent, reddish-brown; leaves ovate-obovate or elliptical-oblong, 1—10 cm x 1—5 cm, base attenuate, apex obtuse or acute, glabrous to densely hairy, petiole 5—15 mm long; spike terminal and axillary, 10—75 cm long, including peduncle 0.5—15 cm long, rachis stiff, ribbed, more or less densely white hairy, bracts ovate, 2—3.5 mm long, apex acuminate, not pungent, silvery, bracteoles ovate, spines 2.5—4.5 mm long, sharp, basal wing adnate to spine, easily detaching, 1—2 mm long; tepals ovate-lanceolate, 3.5—6.5 mm long, 3-veined, green, pungent in fruit, pseudo-staminodes with a fimbriate scale; utricle oblong, about 3 mm long, dark brown. Achyranthes aspera occurs as a ruderal often in sunny, dry localities, in regions with a well defined rainy season, along roadsides and in waste places, from sea-level up to 2500 m altitude.


Achyranthes aspera L. - 1, part of flowering and fruiting stem; 2, flower; 3, stamens; 4, deflexed fruit; 5, utricle

Selected Sources

[134] Burkill, H.M., 1985—2000. The useful plants of West tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. 5 volumes. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. Vol. 1 (1985), Families A—D, 960 pp.; Vol. 2 (1994), Families E—I, 636 pp.; Vol. 3 (1995), Families J—L, 857 pp.; Vol. 4 (1997), Families M—R, 969 pp; Vol. 5 (2000), Families S—Z, 686 pp.
[135] Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Revised reprint. 2 volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Vol. 1 (A—H) pp. 1—1240, Vol. 2 (I—Z) pp. 1241—2444.
[215] Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, 1948—1976. The wealth of India: a dictionary of Indian raw materials & industrial products. 11 volumes. Publications and Information Directorate, New Delhi, India.
[310] Flora Malesiana (various editors), 1950—. Foundation Flora Malesiana. Rijksherbarium/Hortus Botanicus, Leiden, the Netherlands.
[379] Gupta, S.S., Bhagwat, A.W. & Ram, A.K., 1972. Cardiac stimulant activity of the saponin of Achyranthes aspera L. Indian Journal of Medical Research 60(3): 462—471.
[570] Kumar, S., Bagchi, G.D. & Darokar, M.P., 1997. Antibacterial activity observed in the seeds of some coprophilous plants. International Journal of Pharmacognosy 35(3): 179—184.
[605] Li, H.-L. et al. (Editors), 1975—1979. Flora of Taiwan. Angiospermae. 6 volumes. Epoch Publishing Co., Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.
[729] Neogi, L.G., Garg, D. & Rathor, R.S., 1970. Preliminary pharmacological studies on achyranthine. Indian Journal of Pharmacy 32: 43—46.
[739] Nguyen Van Duong, 1993. Medicinal plants of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Mekong Printing, Santa Ana, California, United States. 528 pp.
[752] Ojha, D. & Singh, G., 1968. Apamarga (Achyranthes aspera) in the treatment of lepromatous leprosy. Leprosy Review 39(1): 23—26.
[760] Oliver-Bever, B., 1986. Medicinal plants in tropical West Africa. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom. 375 pp.
[788] Pételot, A., 1952—1954. Les plantes médicinales du Cambodge, du Laos et du Vietnam [The medicinal plants of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam]. 4 volumes. Centre National de Recherches Scientifiques et Techniques, Saigon, Vietnam.
[821] Ram, A.K., Bhagwat, A.W. & Gupta, S.S., 1971. Effect of the saponin of Achyranthes aspera on the phosporylase activity of the rat heart. Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 15(3): 107—110.
[1071] Wijayakusuma, H.M.H., Wirian, A.S., Yaputra, T., Dalimartha, S. & Wibowo, B., 1992. Tanaman berkhasiat obat di Indonesia [Medicinal plants in Indonesia]. Vol. 1. Pustaka Kartini, Jakarta, Indonesia. 122 pp.


J. Raymakers & G.H. Schmelzer

Correct Citation of this Article

Raymakers, J. & Schmelzer, G.H., 2001. Achyranthes aspera L.. In: van Valkenburg, J.L.C.H. and Bunyapraphatsara, N. (Editors): Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. PROSEA Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia. Database record:

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