Commelina (PROSEA Vegetables)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Commelina L.

Family: Commelinaceae

Major species and synonyms

Vernacular names


  • Dayflower (En)
  • Indonesia: tali, gewor (in common with other Commelinaceae).

C. benghalensis:

  • Indonesia: kekupu (West Java), arewi (Minahasa)
  • Malaysia: rumput mayam
  • Philippines: sabilau, alibangon (Tagalog), kulkul-lasi (Ilocano), kabilaw (Bisaya)
  • Laos: kaab pii
  • Thailand: phakprap
  • Vietnam: dâù riêù, thài lài.

C. paleata:

  • Indonesia: brambangan (Java), moksor (Madura).

C. paludosa:

  • Indonesia: ki sepat (West Java)
  • Vietnam: trai nước, rau trai.


Commelina is a large genus, occurring worldwide in tropical and subtropical regions. C. benghalensis has an Old World origin, but is now a pantropical weed. C. paleata is only known from Indonesia. C. paludosa occurs from India to Indo-China, Malaysia and Indonesia.


Leaves and young tops of Commelina (especially C. benghalensis) are occasionally steamed and eaten as vegetable in Indonesia. In the Philippines they are eaten cooked. C. benghalensis and C. paleata have medicinal value as well. Usually Commelina spp. are also useful forages.


Slender, creeping and ascending branched herbs up to 1 m long. Leaves oblong to lanceolate with sheathing base, sessile or shortly petioled. Flowers ephemerous, zygomorphic, blue, in short branched cincinni enclosed in a green, folded, funnel-shaped bract. C. benghalensis and C. paludosa occur in humid to swampy places; C. paleata in dry to humid, but not swampy localities. C. benghalensis occurs up to 900 m, C. paleata up to 750 m and C. paludosa up to 2000 m altitude in the tropics.

Selected sources

7, 20, 44, 76, 85.