Cyathula prostrata (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Cyathula prostrata (L.) Blume

Protologue: Bijdr. fl. Ned. Ind. 11: 549 (1826).
Family: Amaranthaceae
Chromosome number: 2n= 48


Achyranthes prostrata L. (1762), Pupalia prostrata Mart. (1825).

Vernacular names

  • Indonesia: rumput jarang-jarang (Malay), ranggitan (Javanese), rai-rai fofoheka (Ternate)
  • Malaysia: nyarang, menjarang, keremak
  • Papua New Guinea: kinjan (Gaikorovi, Sepik Province)
  • Philippines: dayang, tuhod-manok (Tagalog), bakbaka (Iloko)
  • Cambodia: andot ko
  • Thailand: yaa phaanngu lek (eastern), yaa phaanghu daeng (central)
  • Vietnam: dơn dỏ gọng, cỏ xước, bông dỏ.

Origin and geographic distribution

C. prostrata is distributed from Africa to China and Australia, throughout South-East Asia and introduced in Central America.


In Peninsular Malaysia, C. prostrata is used internally and externally. The aerial parts in decoction are drunk against cough, and a decoction of the roots is used against dysentery. As a plaster, it is used for caterpillar itch, around the neck for cough and on the belly for intestinal worms or shingles. In Indonesia, the leaves mashed with water are a remedy for cholera, and an infusion of the whole plant is taken for fever and dysentery. In Papua New Guinea, the juice of the stem is used as an abortifacient. In Sierra Leone, the roots are used for this purpose. In the Philippines and Guinea, the ash of the burnt plant mixed with water is rubbed on the body for scabies and other skin ailments. In Thailand, the stem in decoction is taken as a diuretic and to increase menstrual discharge; the leaves are used for irritations of the throat, the flowers as an expectorant and the roots against abnormal and frequent urination. In Vietnam, the roots in decoction are commonly drunk for colds and cough, in Indo-China the same preparation is used for rheumatism and dropsy. In China, the stem and leaves are used as a mild laxative. In Taiwan, a decoction of the leaves is applied to snakebites. Throughout Africa, the plant is used to treat dysentery. In Cameroon, the plant is prescribed for articular rheumatism. In Ivory Coast, the sap of the plant is used as ear drops for otitis and for headache, and the pulped plant is used on sores, burns and fractures, as a haemostatic and cicatrizant. In Gabon and Congo (Brazzaville), the leaves are eaten as a vegetable.

The roots of C. capitata DC. are used medicinally in China and Indo-China, to treat rheumatism, backache and paralysis.

Production and international trade

Chinese herbalists in Peninsular Malaysia stock C. prostrata .


All parts contain the steroidβ-ecdysterone and a further undefined saponin.

An ethanol extract of the whole plant at a dose of 0.5 g/kg showed anti-inflammatory activity against carrageenan-induced pedal oedema in rats, and a petroleum extract revealed anti-pyretic activity with yeast-induced pyrexia in rats. In addition, the ethanol extract of the whole dried plant at a dose of 0.5 g/kg showed analgesic activity in the hot plate test and the acetic acid writhing test in mice. The same extracts showed no activity against bacteria, mycoplasma or yeast in culture.

Some compounds from the roots of C. capitata , poststerone and sengosterone, showed metamorphosing effects in insects.


An annual to perennial herb, 30-50 cm tall, erect or ascending, rooting at the nodes, stem obtusely quadrangular, thickened above the nodes, often tinged with red, covered with patent, fine hairs. Leaves opposite, simple, rhomboid-obovate to rhomboid-oblong, 1.3-15 cm × 0.7-6.5 cm, base contracted or narrowed, rounded, apex triangular, acute to obtuse, entire, ciliate, margin or blade often tinged red; petiole short. Inflorescence an erect, elongated raceme, terminal and in highest leaf-axils, straight or sinuous, 18-33 cm long, rachis densely pubescent; peduncle 1-12 cm long; flowers in small clusters, in the lower part of the raceme distant, in the higher part crowded, pedicel short, erect before anthesis, reflexed in fruiting, bracts ovate, acuminate; lower clusters with 2-3 bisexual flowers and several sterile ones, with up to 20 red, hooked awns, towards the apex fewer sterile flowers, at apex only solitary bisexual flowers, ripe clusters falling off as a whole. Flowers small; tepals 5, free, in bisexual flowers ovate-oblong, 2.5-3 mm long, strongly mucronate, dull pale green, glabrous within, externally clothed with patent long, white hairs, tepals of sterile flowers 1.7-2.5 mm long, sessile; stamens 5, filaments connate at base, free parts 1 mm long, anthers 2-celled, pseudo-staminodes rectangular-cuneate, apex truncate; ovary superior, obovoid, 1-celled, funicle short, style filiform, stigma capitellate. Fruit an ellipsoid utricle, 1.5-2 mm long, thin-walled, glabrous, 1-seeded, surrounded by stiff perianth. Seed ovoid or ellipsoidal, 1-1.5 mm long, shiny brown. Seedling with epigeal germination.

Growth and development

The flowers of C. prostrata are visited by bees for collection of nectar. They are also wind-pollinated. C. prostrata is found flowering throughout the year when sufficient water is available.

Other botanical information

Cyathula consists of about 25 species with a tropical distribution. In the Philippines, a variety of C. prostrata with lanceolate to linear-lanceolate leaves occurs.


C. prostrata is weedy and occurs in shaded localities, along roadsides, in teak forests, secondary forests, often gregariously, from sea-level up to 1650 m altitude.

Propagation and planting

C. prostrata is propagated by seed or by stem cuttings.


The plant parts of C. prostrata to be used are harvested at the end of the growing season.

Handling after harvest

In Vietnam, the leaves, stems and roots of C. prostrata are dried in the sun or over a fire.

Genetic resources and breeding

As C. prostrata is commonly found as a weedy herb throughout the tropics of the Old World, genetic erosion does not seem a problem.


In general, limited information is available on the phytochemistry and pharmacology of C. prostrata . Extracts, however, do have some activity in general screening experiments, and therefore may merit further research to fully investigate their potential.


  • Backer, C.A., 1949. Cyathula. In: van Steenis, C.G.G.J. (Editor): Flora Malesiana. Series 1, Vol. 4. Noordhoff-Kolff, Djakarta, Indonesia. pp. 81-83.
  • Forestieri, A.M., Monforte, M.T., Ragusa, S., Trovato, A. & Iauk, L., 1996. Antiinflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic activity in rodents of plant extracts used in African medicine. Phytotherapy Research 10(2): 100-106.
  • Forestieri, A.M., Pizzimenti, F.C., Monforte, M.T. & Bisignano, G., 1988. Antibacterial activity of some African medicinal plants. Pharmacological Research Communications Supplement 20(5): 33-36.
  • Perry, L.M., 1980. Medicinal plants of East and Southeast Asia. Attributed properties and uses. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States & London, United Kingdom. p. 11.
  • Quisumbing, E., 1978. Medicinal plants of the Philippines. Katha Publishing Co., Quezon City, the Philippines. p. 272.
  • Takemoto, T., Ogawa, S., Nishimoto, N., Hirayama, H. & Taniguchi, S., 1968. Constituents of Achyranthes and Cyathula genera. Yakugaku Zasshi 88: 1293-1297. (in Japanese)

Other selected sources

74, 134,

  • Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Revised reprint. 2 volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Vol. 1 (A-H) pp. 1-1240, Vol. 2 (I-Z) pp. 1241-2444.

  • Chuakul, W., Saralamp, P., Paonil, W., Temsiririrkkul, R. & Clayton, T. (Editors), 1997. Medicinal plants in Thailand. Vol. II. Department of Pharmaceutical Botany, Faculty of Pharmacy, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand. 248 pp.408
  • Holdsworth, D.K., 1977. Medicinal plants of Papua New Guinea. Technical Paper No 175. South Pacific Commission, Noumea, New Caledonia. 123 pp., 788.


Wongsatit Chuakul, Noppamas Soonthornchareonnon, Orawan Ruangsomboon