Acanthus ilicifolius (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Acanthus ilicifolius L.

Protologue: Sp. pl. 2: 639 (1753).


Acanthus volubilis Wallich (1831).

Vernacular names

  • Sea holly (En)
  • Indonesia: jeruju (Sumatra), daruju (Javanese)
  • Malaysia: jeruju, jeruju puteh (Peninsular)
  • Philippines: daguari, diluariu (Tagalog), kasumba (Iloko)
  • Papua New Guinea: kikia (Kavataria, Trobriand Island, Milne Bay Province)
  • Thailand: kaem mo (peninsular), cha kreng (central), ngueak plaamo namngoen (general)
  • Vietnam: ô rô, nước, lão thử cân.


Distributed from South India and Sri Lanka to Indo-China, Indonesia, the Philippines and northern Australia, but rather scarce in Malaysia.


The aerial parts of A. ilicifolius are used as a poultice on wounds, and together with ginger, they are ground and put on sore legs, while a porridge from them is taken for bowel complaints. In Indonesia, a poultice of the leaves may be applied to treat rheumatic pain, or as an emollient. In Thailand, the stem and leaves are also used to promote longevity. In Papua New Guinea the leaves, crushed in water, are drunk to facilitate delivery. The solution can also be drunk before an operation.


A stout, erect or reclining shrub, up to 1.5 m tall, scarcely branched, glabrous, with adventitious aerial roots; leaves oblong, 6.5-11 cm × 4-6 cm; spike up to 16.5 cm long, dense or interrupted, bracts lanceolate, 10 mm long, bracteoles in 2 pairs, oblong-lanceolate, up to 1.5 cm long, calyx lobes obovate-oblong, ciliolate, corolla lobe obovate, 3 cm × 2.5 cm, pale to bright blue, corolla tube white. A. ilicifolius is gregarious and very common along banks of estuaries and lagoons, and in marshy land and mangroves close to the seashore. It is rarely found inland.

Selected sources

  • 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.

297, 407, 579, 786, 838, 867, 962, 1069.


H.C. Ong