Acalypha wilkesiana (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Acalypha wilkesiana Müll. Arg.

Protologue: in DC., Prodr. 15(2): 817 (1866).


Acalypha godseffiana Masters (1898).

Vernacular names

  • Papua New Guinea: kavus (Lamasong, New Ireland), kokoai (Raluana, Gazelle Peninsula, New Britain), haunuana (Delena, Central Province)
  • Thailand: pho ngoen, pho daang (central), bai ngoen (southeastern)
  • Vietnam: tai tượng dỏ.


Possibly a native of Polynesia, widely cultivated as an ornamental in South-East Asia.


In New Ireland, leaves are heated over a fire and squeezed when soft. The juice is drunk to soothe throat infections such as laryngitis. In New Britain leaves are used to treat diarrhoea, whereas on the Gazelle Peninsula, leaf juice is drunk with water to treat diarrhoea and dysentery. In the Central Province boiled leaves are used to massage people suffering from fever. In the Southern Highlands the bark is used as a poison. In Fiji, an infusion of leaves and bark is drunk as a treatment for pleurisy. The leaves are squeezed and mixed with water, and drunk to regulate menstruation. A decoction of the leaves is used to treat gastritis and lymphoid swellings. In Central America, fresh leafy branches are externally applied to induce perspiration, apparently for their rubefacient effect. Similarly, heated leaves are applied to cure fevers. Likewise fresh or heated leaves are externally applied to relieve rheumatic pains, inflammations and swellings. In West Africa the water extract of the reddish form is traditionally used for treating skin problems.


An erect or spreading, evergreen, monoecious shrub, up to 2(-6) m tall; leaves ovate, (4-)7-25 cm × (2-)5-15 cm, base cordate, cuneate or obtuse, apex acute to short acuminate, margin crenate, often variegated, or twisted and distorted, petiole 1.5-12 cm long; inflorescence axillary and single, usually unisexual; male inflorescence racemose, up to 14 cm long, densely flowered with glomerules along the axis; female inflorescence spicate, 10-14 cm long, one to several flowered, bracts deeply lobed; fruit depressed globose, 2.5 mm × 3 mm.

Selected sources

13, 31,

  • 32. Airy Shaw, H.K., 1975. The Euphorbiaceae of Borneo. Kew Bulletin Additional Series IV. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, United Kingdom. 245 pp.33, 35, 36, 74, 143, 320
  • Holdsworth, D.K., 1977. Medicinal plants of Papua New Guinea. Technical Paper No 175. South Pacific Commission, Noumea, New Caledonia. 123 pp., 422, 430, 431, 459, 567, 662, 696, 813, 965.


Arbayah H. Siregar