Alternanthera philoxeroides (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Alternanthera philoxeroides (Mart.) Griseb.

Protologue: Goett. Abh. 24: 36 (1879).
Family: Amaranthaceae


  • Ternanthera philoxeroides (Mart.) Moq. (1849).

Vernacular names

  • Alligator weed (En)
  • Indonesia: tolod, krokot (Java)
  • Burma (Myanmar): kanabaw
  • Thailand: phakpet-nam, phakpet.


Originating from tropical America, but often cultivated as an aquatic in other tropical areas, and often naturalized, e.g. in China, United States, Indonesia, and very locally elsewhere in Malesia (e.g. found in south-eastern Kalimantan).


In Indonesia young tops are eaten raw or cooked. In China plants are cultivated for compost-making. In the United States the plant is cultivated as food for lobsters.

An extract is used medicinally in India to treat "female diseases". It can be used as a tertiary filtration system for domestic sewage. In watercourses it is a noxious weed.


  • A perennial herb up to 1 m tall, ascending from a creeping or floating, rooting base, often much branched and forming a dense mass.
  • Stems fistulose in lower part with 2 hairy grooves.
  • Leaves oblong or oblong-obovate, 2-8 cm × 0.5-2.5 cm, glabrous or ciliate, petiole 3-6 mm long.
  • Flowering heads stalked or occasionally sessile; tepals 1-veined, shining white, filaments united at base into a distinct tube.
  • Fruit not produced in Malesia.

In Indonesia seed is never produced and propagation is only vegetatively. It occurs wild in swampy or very humid localities up to 1300 m altitude. In some places (Java) it is a serious aquatic weed.

Selected sources

7, 57, 66, 85. vegetables

  • 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.
  • Balagtas Burow, G.E., Moroney, J.V. & Longstreth, D.J., 1993. Growth and osmotic adjustment of cultured suspension cells from Alternanthera philoxeroides (Mart.) Griseb. after an abrupt increase in salinity. Journal of Experimental Botany 44(260): 673-679.
  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, 1985. The wealth of India: a dictionary of Indian raw materials & industrial products. Revised Edition. Vol. 1. Publications and Information Directorate, New Delhi, India. 513 pp.
  • Lin, T. S. & Kao, M. T., 1996. Amaranthaceae. In: Huang, T. C. (Editor): Flora of Taiwan. 2nd Edition. Vol. 2. Epoch Publishing Co., Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China. pp. 388-409.
  • Majumdar, N.C. & Banerjee, R.N., 1976. The distribution and economic uses of Alternanthera philoxeroides (Mart.) Griseb., an exotic aquatic herb in India and Burma. Bulletin of the Botanical Society of Bengal 30: 147-148.
  • Noronha, A.B., Gil, V.L., Vicente, M. & Goncalves, A.L., 1983. Occurrence of plant virus inhibitors in five species of Caryophyllales. II. Alternanthera amoena, A. brasiliana, A. philoxeroides, Iresine herbstii and Talinum paniculatum. Fitopatologia Brasileira 8(2): 317-323.
  • Qu, C.F., Yang, Z.Q. & Xiang, J.M., 1993. Alternanthera philoxeroides (Mavt.) Griseb. protection against fetal epidemic hemorrhagic fever virus infection in suckling mice. Chung Kuo Chung Yao Tsa Chih 18: 304-305, 320.
  • Si man, Z., Yong sheng, H., Tabba, H.D. & Smith, K.M., 1988. Inhibitor against the human immunodeficiency virus in aqueous extracts of Alternanthera philoxeroides. Chinese Medical Journal 101: 861-886.
  • Siemonsma, J.S. & Kasem Piluek (Editors), 1993. Plant Resources of South East Asia No 8. Vegetables. Pudoc Scientific Publishers, Wageningen, the Netherlands. 412 pp.
  • Yang, Z.Q., Zhang, M.Y., Liu, J.J., Hu, Z.J., Zhu, B.L., Liu, Y.W., Wang, G.Z., Wan, M. & Wu, X.L., 1989. Extraction of effective parts of Alternanthera philoxeroides (Mart.) Griseb. and its antiviral effect. Chung Kuo Chung Yao Tsa Chih 14: 488-490, 511-512. (in Chinese)

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