Acalypha indica (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Acalypha indica L.

Protologue: Sp. pl. 2: 1003 (1753).


Acalypha chinensis Benth. (1861), Acalypha caroliniana Blanco (1837) non Walt. (1788).

Vernacular names

  • Indian acalypha, three-seeded mercury (En)
  • Indonesia: lelatang, rumput kokosongan
  • Malaysia: rumput lislis, tjeka mas
  • Philippines: bugos (Tagalog), maraotong, taptapingar (Ilokano)
  • Thailand: tamyae tuaphuu, tamyae maeo (central), haan maeo (northern)
  • Vietnam: tai tượng ấn, tai tượng xanh.


Widespread in the Old World tropics from West Africa throughout India, Indo-China to the Philippines and Java, but apparently absent from Borneo and rare in eastern Malesia.


In Indonesia and Thailand, the leaves are externally applied on sores and swellings. In Malaysia and Thailand, a decoction of the plant is taken as a purgative. In the Philippines, fresh juice or a decoction of roots and leaves is, depending on dosage, given to children as an emetic or expectorant in bronchitis and asthma. A paste of fresh leaves is applied as a suppository to loosen the bowels of children. In southern Vietnam the leaves are used as an anthelmintic and the roots as a cathartic. In Indonesia, the root is considered a universal remedy for cats, based on observations of cats consuming the roots.


An erect, annual herb, up to 1.5 m tall; leaves rhombic- ovate, (1-)3-5(-7) cm × (1-)2.5-3(-5) cm, base cuneate, margin shallowly serrate, petiole 2-6 cm long; inflorescences bisexual, solitary, with a short slender male portion, female flowers fewer and less crowded than in A. lanceolata , with broad, shallowly and obtusely toothed bracts, which are much less closely nerved, producing allomorphic female flowers at the apex; fruit 2-2.5 mm in diameter. A. indica is found in waste places and cropped land at low altitudes, and is locally common.

Selected sources

  • 31. Airy Shaw, H.K., 1972. The Euphorbiaceae of Siam. Kew Bulletin 26: 191-363.33, 34, 35, 36, 74, 128,
  • 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, 380, 407, 412, 662, 714, 739, 786, 788, 810, 822, 841.


Arbayah H. Siregar