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Alternanthera sessilis (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

1, plant habit; 2, flower with bract and bracteoles; 3, flower with tepals removed; 4, fruit (Achmad Satiri Nurhaman)

Alternanthera sessilis (L.) DC.

Protologue: Cat. pl. horti monsp.: 77 (1813).


  • Alternanthera triandra Lamk (1783),
  • Alternanthera denticulata R.Br. (1810),
  • Alternanthera nodiflora R.Br. (1810).

Vernacular names

  • Indonesia: kremek (Sundanese), bayem kremah (Javanese), daun tolod (Moluccas)
  • Malaysia: keremak, pudoh, kermak bukit
  • Philippines: bunga-bunga (Tagalog), bilanamanut (Magindanao), gogoat (Bontok)
  • Cambodia: chë:ng bângko:ng (Kompong Thom)
  • Laos: khaix ped, phak ph'ê:w (Louang Prabang), nê: ti:d kho:x (Vientiane)
  • Thailand: phakpet khaao, phakpet thai
  • Vietnam: rau dệu (general).


Throughout the tropics and subtropics of America, Africa and Asia; throughout Malesia.


An infusion of the entire plant is used in Indonesia as a remedy against intestinal cramps, diarrhoea and dysentery, and externally as a cooling agent to treat fever. In Malaysia it is used internally against intestinal inflammation and fever, and externally to treat wounds. A. sessilis is used in local medicine in Taiwan, often in mixtures with other medicinal plants, to treat hepatitis, tight chest, bronchitis, asthma, and lung troubles, to stop bleeding and as a hair tonic. It is used locally in India against dysentery, as a cholagogue, abortifacient and febrifuge and to treat snake bites, inflamed wounds and boils, and in Thailand and Sri Lanka as galactagogue. It is eaten as a vegetable, e.g. in Vietnam and Sri Lanka.


  • A perennial, sometimes annual herb up to 1 m tall, erect, ascending or creeping, often widely branched, taproot robust, stems solid, sometimes floating in water and then stems fistulose in lower part; hairs smooth.
  • Leaves linear-lanceolate, oblong to ovate or obovate, 1-15 cm × 0.5-3 cm, glabrous or sparsely pilose, petiole 1-5 mm long.
  • Flowering heads sessile; tepals 1-veined or only 3-veined at the very base, shiny white or purplish, filaments united at base into a very short cup.
  • Fruit obreniform, corky, about 2 mm long.

A. sessilis is a very common plant of constant or periodically humid, open localities in roadsides, gardens, ditches, swamps, rice fields and tea plantations, up to 1250 m altitude.

Selected sources

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dharma, A.P., 1981. Indonesische geneeskrachtige planten [Indonesian medicinal plants]. De Driehoek, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. 168 pp.
  • Heyne, K., 1950. De nuttige planten van Indonesië [The useful plants of Indonesia]. 3rd Edition. 2 volumes. W. van Hoeve, 's Gravenhage, the Netherlands/Bandung, Indonesia. 1660 + CCXLI pp.
  • Kanis, A., 1972. A review of the Amaranthaceae in Papuasia. Contributions from Herbarium Australiense No 1: 1-8.
  • Krishnakumar, A., Sivaramakrishnan, V.M. & Sivaswamy, S.N., 1991. Inhibition of nitrosation reaction by some spices/leafy vegetables. Advances in Plant Sciences 4(1): 189-193.
  • Larsen, K., 1989. Caryophyllales. In: Lescot, M. (Editor): Flore du Cambodge, du Laos et du Viêtnam [Flora of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam]. Vol. 24. Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. 144 pp.
  • Lin, C.C., Chen, J.Y. & Namba, T., 1986. Development of natural crude drug resources from Taiwan IV. Pharmacognostical studies on the Chinese crude drug han lian cao. Shoyakugaku Zasshi 40(4): 357-366. (in Japanese)
  • 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.
  • Nguyen Van Duong, 1993. Medicinal plants of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Mekong Printing, Santa Ana, California, United States. 528 pp.
  • Oladiran, A.O. & Gana, R.W., 1991. Leaf spot of Alternanthera sessilis and its implications for food crops. Journal of Phytopathology 133(2): 169-174.
  • Quisumbing, E., 1978. Medicinal plants of the Philippines. Katha Publishing Co., Quezon City, the Philippines. 1262 pp.
  • Sinha, P., Arora, V.K., Ansari, M.S. & Wahi, S.P., 1986. Pharmacognostic studies on the stem of Alternanthera sessilis R.Br. International Journal of Crude Drug Research 24(1): 7-15.
  • Sreedevi & Chaturvedi, A., 1993. Effect of vegetable fibre on post prandial glycemia. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition 44(1): 71-78.
  • Townsend, C.C., 1980. Amaranthaceae. In: Dassanayake, M.D. & Fosberg, F.R. (Editors): A revised handbook to the flora of Ceylon. Vol. 1. Amerind Publishing Co., New Delhi, India. pp. 1-57.

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