Cyanotis axillaris (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Cyanotis axillaris (L.) Sweet

Family: Commelinaceae


  • Commelina axillaris L.,
  • Tradescantia axillaris L.,
  • Amischophacelus axillaris (L.) Rolla Rao & Kammathy.

Vernacular names

  • Baghanulla (En, India)
  • Philippines: alikbangon (Tagalog), sabilau (Bisaya)
  • Thailand: phakplap-na (Bangkok), ya-phophot-lek (Prachin Buri), kinkungluang (Chiang Mai).


From India and Sri Lanka to China, and throughout South-East Asia to Australia.


In times of famine, seed can be eaten like a cereal. The whole plant is a good forage and medicinally it is applied externally against ascites.


  • Subsucculent creeping or ascending perennial herb, up to 70 cm long, rooting at the nodes.
  • Leaves oblong to lanceolate, 2-15 cm × 4-12 mm with amplexicaul sheath.
  • Flowers 2-6, in sessile, axillary fascicles, mostly covered by a floral leaf sheath, regular, bisexual, 3-merous, blue-purple, with 6 stamens.
  • Fruit a capsule, 6-7 mm long, loculicidal, 3-valved.
  • Seed brown with numerous pits and a small apical, conical point.

C. axillaris is a common, slowly growing weed in clearings, open sites along streams, rice fields, damp meadows, up to 250 m altitude. In Java, it flowers from July to December. The flowers open only once for a few hours. On a dry weight basis the seed contains approximately 60% starch and 15% protein. It is laborious to collect sufficient seed for a meal, but the food is considered very nutritious.

Selected sources

1, 3, 4, 35.


  • H.N. van der Hoek & P.C.M. Jansen