Alternanthera ficoidea (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Alternanthera ficoidea (L.) P. Beauv.

Protologue: Fl. Oware 2: 66, pl. 99, fig. 1 (1818; "ficoides").


  • Gomphrena ficoidea L. (1753),
  • Alternanthera tenella Colla (1828).

Vernacular names

  • Indonesia: bayam merah (general), jukut jatinangor (Sundanese), kecicak abang (Javanese)
  • Thailand: phakpet daeng, phrommi daeng, phakpet farang
  • Vietnam: rau dệu dỏ.


Native of tropical South America; introduced in Malesia (e.g. Sumatra, Java, Papua New Guinea) and elsewhere in South-East Asia as an ornamental.


A. ficoidea might be useful as an antiviral agent. The densely matted growth makes it suitable to be used to protect soil against erosion. It is commonly planted in gardens as ornamental. The leaves are sometimes eaten as a vegetable, e.g. in Sri Lanka.


  • A perennial herb up to 50 cm tall, erect or decumbent and rooting in lower part, often much branched and forming dense tufts, stems solid; hairs dentate.
  • Leaves oblong, oblong-obovate to spatulate, 1-6 cm × 0.5-2 cm, finely pilose when young but later glabrescent, often variegated with brownish-red, red, pink or yellow, petiole 1-4 mm long.
  • Flowering heads sessile; 3 outer tepals distinctly 3-veined, shiny white or yellowish, filaments united at base into a very short cup.
  • Fruit not produced in Malesia.

In South-East Asia only var. versicolor (Lem.) Backer (synonyms: Alternanthera amoena Backer & v. Slooten, A. bettzickiana (Regel) Nicholson, A. ficoidea (L.) P. Beauv. var. bettzickiana (Nicholson) Backer, A. manillensis (Walp.) Kanis (1972), A. tenella Colla var. versicolor (Lem.) Veldk.) is cultivated. In fact, this taxon should be considered as a cultivar. It hardly ever sets fruit and besides being cultivated as an ornamental, is known as a non-persisting escape.

Selected sources

  • Alexandre, M.A.V., Noronha, A.B. & Vicente, M., 1987. Acao de inibidores naturais sobre duas viroses do feijoeiro: mosaico dourado e mosaico do fumo "strain"" adaptado as leguminosas [Action of natural inhibitors on two virus diseases of bean, bean golden mosaic virus and tobacco mosaic virus legume strain]. Fitopatologia Brasileira 12(3): 202-205.
  • Backer, C.A., 1949. Amaranthaceae. In: van Steenis, C.G.G.J. (General editor): Flora Malesiana. Series 1, Vol. 4. Noordhoff Kolff, Djakarta, Indonesia. pp. 69-98.
  • Backer, C.A. & Bakhuizen van den Brink Jr, R.C., 1963-1968. Flora of Java. 3 volumes. Noordhoff, Groningen, the Netherlands. Vol. 1 (1963) 647 pp., Vol. 2 (1965) 641 pp., Vol. 3 (1968) 761 pp.
  • Heyne, K., 1950. De nuttige planten van Indonesië [The useful plants of Indonesia]. 3rd Edition. 2 volumes. W. van Hoeve, 's Gravenhage, the Netherlands/Bandung, Indonesia. 1660 + CCXLI pp.
  • Koseki, I., Simoni, I.C., Nakamura, I.T., Noronha, A.B. & Costa, S.S., 1990. Antiviral activity of plant extracts against aphthovirus, pseudorabies virus and pestivirus in cell cultures. Microbios Letters 44(173): 19-30.
  • Lagrota, M.H.C., Wigg, M.D., Miranda, M.M.F.S., Santos, M.G.M. & Costa, S.S., 1995. Inhibition of herpes simplex virus replication by different extracts of Caryophyllales. Biomedical Letters 51(202): 127-135.
  • Larsen, K., 1989. Caryophyllales. In: Lescot, M. (Editor): Flore du Cambodge, du Laos et du Viêtnam [Flora of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam]. Vol. 24. Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. 144 pp.
  • Noronha, A.B., Amelia, M., Alexandre, V., De Gaetano, R. & Vicente, M., 1993. Protection against tobacco mosaic virus induced by some Caryophyllales plant extracts. Microbios 73(294): 75-80.
  • Townsend, C.C., 1980. Amaranthaceae. In: Dassanayake, M.D. & Fosberg, F.R. (Editors): A revised handbook to the flora of Ceylon. Vol. 1. Amerind Publishing Co., New Delhi, India. pp. 1-57.

Main genus page


  • R.H.M.J. Lemmens & S.F.A.J. Horsten