Murdannia (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Murdannia Royle

Protologue: Illus. bot. Himal. Mts.: 403, t. 95 (1839).
Family: Commelinaceae
Chromosome number: x = 6, 8, 9, 10, 11; M. edulis: 2n = 18, 40, M. japonica: n = 32, 2n = 40, M. loriformis: 2n = 40

Major vegetables species and synonyms

  • Murdannia nudiflora (L.) Brenan, synonyms: Commelina nudiflora L., Aneilema malabaricum (L.) Merrill, A. nudiflorum R. Br.
  • Murdannia spirata (L.) Brückner, synonym: Aneilema spiratum (L.) R. Br. ex C.B. Clarke.

Vernacular names


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

M. nudiflora:

  • Indonesia: jeboran (Java), patuk gagak (West Java)
  • Malaysia: rumput lidah lembu
  • Philippines: alikbanong (Tagalog), kolkollaasi (Ilocano), bangal (Ifugao)
  • Laos: kaab
  • Thailand: phakprap, kinkungnoi (northern)
  • Vietnam: cỏ trai, thài lài trắng.

M. spirata:

  • Indonesia: rancamaya, tali said (Sundanese).


Murdannia comprises about 50 species and is pantropical, also occurring locally in warmer temperate regions. It is richest in diversity in tropical Asia, where there are approximately 30 species. M. nudiflora and M. spirata occur from India to China, including South-East Asia, but M. spirata has not been reported from New Guinea, Borneo, Sumatra nor Malaysia.


There are few records of medicinal uses of Murdannia in South-East Asia. M. loriformis is used in Thailand to treat leukaemia and cancer. M. japonica is used in Peninsular Malaysia as an abortifacient. However, the roots of M. edulis have numerous medicinal applications in India.

The green plant parts of M. nudiflora (L.) Brenan and M. spirata (L.) A. Brückn. are used as a raw or steamed vegetable, and as a fodder. The leaves of the former species are applied as a poultice to wounds.


An extract of freeze-dried M. loriformis plants exhibited weak cytotoxicity against human breast cancer cells; the active compound was identified as sphingosine-1-β-O-D-glucopyranosyl-2-(2'-hydroxy-6'-ene-cosamide). An alcohol extract showed cytotoxicity against hepatoma cell lines of mice and antimutagenic activity against various known mutagens in rats. The steroidal glucoside 3-β-O-D-glucopyranosyl-24ζ-ethylcholest-5-ene has been isolated from whole M. loriformis plants from Thailand.


  • Small to medium-sized herbs (M. nudiflora perennial, 10-120 cm ; M. spirata annual, 10-30 cm), with stems erect or creeping at base; roots fibrous or tuberous.
  • Leaves arranged spirally, simple and entire, ovate-oblong to linear-lanceolate, sessile and with leaf-sheaths at base ; 1.5-25 cm long, in a radical rosette when young ( M. nudiflora) or ovate-oblong, 0.7-2.5 cm long (M. spirata).
  • Inflorescence a terminal or axillary thyrse, sometimes reduced to 1-flowered cyme. Peduncle long (M. nudiflora) or very short (M. spirata).
  • Flowers bisexual, sometimes bisexual and male, regular or slightly zygomorphic, 3-merous, pedicellate; sepals free, subequal; petals free, subequal, usually slightly longer than sepals; stamens 6, 2-3 fertile and 3-4 staminodial, generally all free; ovary superior, sessile, 3-celled, style slender.
  • Fruit a 3-celled capsule, opening with 3 valves, each cell 1-many-seeded.
  • Seeds with punctiform to linear hilum.

The nomenclature of many Murdannia species is confusing. They have often been described originally in other genera, usually in Aneilema, which is another genus of the tribe Commelineae, differing in its bilocular or unequally trilocular, bivalved fruits.


Murdannia is diverse ecologically, but it occurs mainly in open localities, often in moist habitats. Some species are weeds in crops, e.g. the widespread M. nudiflora and M. spirata in rice. However, some species prefer the forest undergrowth, e.g. M. japonica.


In India the roots of M. edulis are dried in the shade after collecting.

Genetic resources

The Murdannia species treated here are widely distributed and do not seem to be under threat of genetic erosion. However, knowledge of the distribution of many species is still very incomplete.


The applications of Murdannia in traditional medicine in Thailand and India are interesting enough to warrant further investigations on pharmacological activities. A study of the taxonomy of the genus is badly needed.

Selected sources

7, 20, 44, 60, 61, 66, 76, 85. vegetables

121, 853. medicinals

Selection of medicinal species


  • Wongsatit Chuakul, Noppamas Soonthornchareonnon & Orawan Ruangsomboon