Ayapana triplinervis (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Ayapana triplinervis (Vahl) R.M. King & H. Robinson

Protologue: Phytologia 20(3): 212 (1970).
Family: Compositae
Chromosome number: 2n= 51 (triploid)


  • Eupatorium triplinerve Vahl (1794),
  • Eupatorium ayapana Vent. (1803).

Vernacular names

  • White snakeroot, pool root (En)
  • Ayapana (Fr)
  • Indonesia: acerang (Malay), jukut prasman, daun prasman (Sundanese), rajapanah (Javanese)
  • Philippines: apana, ayapana (Tagalog), impana (Iloko)
  • Cambodia: pang' kacha:t
  • Vietnam: bả dột, cây bả dột, cà dót.

Origin and geographic distribution

A. triplinervis originated in the area from northern Brazil to Suriname, and was introduced, cultivated and naturalized long ago in some Caribbean islands, Africa, India, Indo-China, the Philippines, and Java, from where it was introduced into other parts of Indonesia.


A. triplinervis plants smell strongly of coumarin, especially when crushed, and has a taste which is both bitter and aromatic. It is widely used as a tea in the whole of its distribution area, against chronic diarrhoea, as a stimulant, a sudorific and a tonic, and against badly infected wounds, thrush, lung diseases and as an antidote for snake bites. In small doses it is a stimulant and tonic, but when taken in larger quantities it is laxative. Because of its haemostatic properties it is used to regulate menstruation problems. A water extract of the dried leaves and shoots is used as a cardiac stimulant, increasing the force of the heart beat but diminishing its frequency. In Cambodia, it is recommended that young mothers inhale the scent of the leaves to gain strength and colour. In Brazil and the Caribbean, a gargle prepared from the leaves is used to relieve thrush, scurvy and angina. In Trinidad, a decoction is taken internally or used for bathing as a remedy for influenza, chest colds, pneumonia and constipation.

In Indonesia and Africa, A. triplinervis is also used as an excellent ground cover in tea and rubber plantations. In Suriname, the leaves are used for flavouring turtle meat. A pale green essential oil is obtained by distilling the leaves, and it is cultivated in Brazil for this oil, which is used in perfumes. In 19th century France, a leaf decoction was widely used as a substitute for tea, because of its spicy taste.

It is occasionally planted, but more often spontaneous and maintained by selective weeding.


The leaves of A. triplinervis contain ayapanine (7-methoxycoumarin) which has a distinct coumarin-like odour, and ayapine (6,7-methylenedioxycoumarin). Both compounds have excellent haemostatic properties, applied locally, as a tea or subcutaneously. Ayapanine and ayapine are generally non-toxic when administered locally or taken orally; moreover, they have no effect on respiration or on blood pressure. Further known constituents of the leaves include the terpenes phellandrene, borneol,β-selinene, the quinones thymoquinone and thymoquinone-dimethylether, carotene and vitamin C (0.025%).

Using the filter paper disk assay, the essential oil isolated from A. triplinervis was shown to inhibit the growth of certain fungi (Curvularia spp., Rhizopus spp., Aspergillus spp. and Penicillium spp.), but not that of Aspergillus fumigatus and Penicillium decumbens. Furthermore, the essential oil showed high activity against the bacteria Escherichia coli and Proteus vulgaris, and moderate activity against Bacillus anthracis, Staphylococcus aureus and some Salmonella spp.

A laboratory study showed strong feeding rejection by caterpillars of Diacrisia obliqua, Philosamia ricini, Trabala vishnou and Pshissama transiens on Ricinus communis L. leaves which had been sprayed with 7-methoxycoumarin. Also, a methanol extract of A. triplinervis, used as an insecticide against the paddy brown plant hopper (Nilaparvata lugens), caused about 42% mortality of adult female grass hoppers.


  • A perennial, tufted, glabrous, aromatic herb, 35-100(-150) cm tall; stem reddish, often partly decumbent, rooting at the lower nodes; young shoots often whitish, because of resinous exudate.
  • Leaves opposite, on flowering stems partially alternate, simple, lanceolate to narrowly oblong, 3-12 cm × 0.5-2.5 cm, base gradually tapering, apex obtuse, margins entire, recurved, or with a few minute teeth, blade rather thick, lowermost opposite pair of lateral veins arising above the leaf-base, dark green or tinged purple to a varying extent; petiole 0-10 cm long; stipules absent.
  • Inflorescence a head, many arranged together in a lax terminal corymb; involucre campanulate, bracts very acute, green with purple tips, finely pubescent, heads 6-7 mm long, 20(-50)-flowered.
  • Flowers all tubular, corolla scarcely exerted from the involucre, narrowly funnel-shaped, 3.5-5 mm long, glabrous on inner surface, with glands on outer surface of lobes, reddish-violet, with a greenish-white base; anthers 5, very loosely cohering or finally free; ovary inferior; style base enlarged, glabrous, style branches filiform, appendages fimbriate.
  • Fruit a narrowly oblong achene, 2 mm long, 5-angled and sparsely hairy on the angles; pappus 3 mm long, white.

Growth and development

A. triplinervis forms large clumps of unbranched stems which grow throughout the year, but especially during the rainy season. It rarely flowers in Java, and when flower heads appear, achenes apparently never develop, probably because the species is triploid.

Other botanical information

Ayapana is primarily a South American genus of 14 species, with a few widely distributed species such as A. triplinervis, which originates from northern Brazil to Suriname. Ayapana is one of the most natural groups in the tribe Eupatorieae, and is different from the other groups because of its fimbriate style appendages and the enlarged base of the fruit stalk. The red-flowered variety of A. triplinervis is medicinally most active.


A. triplinervis endures heavy shade, and has excellent ground-covering and soil retaining properties. It grows from sea-level up to 1600 m altitude. The flowering time in Brazil is from June to December.

Propagation and planting

In Java, A. triplinervis is often planted in the hills, near local houses and remains long after these houses are gone. It is propagated through division.


A. triplinervis leaves are picked from the gardens whenever the need arises.

Genetic resources and breeding

As a result of vegetative propagation, the genetic variability within cultivated A. triplinervis seems to be rather small in Indonesia. No germplasm collections or breeding programmes are known to exist.


The coumarins and volatile oil constituents of A. triplinervis show interesting activity in the fields of haemostasis and plant protection (antifungal, insecticide), and merit further research.


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Other selected sources

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  • G.H. Schmelzer (Medicinal plants)
  • M.S.M. Sosef & L.J.G. van der Maesen (Auxiliary plants)