Achyranthes aspera (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Achyranthes aspera L.

Protologue: Sp. pl. 1: 204 (1753).


Achyranthes obtusifolia Lamk (1785), Achyranthes canescens R.Br. (1810), Achyranthes argentea Decne (1834).

Vernacular names

  • Prickly chaff flower (En)
  • Indonesia: jarong (Javanese), jarong lalaki (Sundanese), sangko hidung (Moluccas)
  • Malaysia: ara songsang, nyarang sunsang
  • Papua New Guinea: towano (North Bougainville)
  • Philippines: hangod (Tagalog), higad-higad (Iloko), saramat (Bisaya)
  • Thailand: khuai nguu, phan nguu (central), yaa teen nguu khaao (Bangkok)
  • Laos: khoy ngou
  • Vietnam: cỏ xước.


Throughout the Old World tropics, including Malesia and Australia, and introduced into tropical America.


The root, seeds or whole plant are widely used for medicinal purposes. The leaves are applied to wounds, and to mature abscesses and boils. A decoction of the root is drunk for rheumatism, stomach-ache, menstruation pains, absence of menstruation or as an abortifacient. The sap from the plant is taken for dysentery and rheumatism. In Papua New Guinea, the leaves or roots are applied on boils and swollen legs. In Thailand, the roots are used as an anti-inflammatory and a diuretic.


A variable, annual to perennial herb, 30-120 cm tall, stem angular, ribbed, stiff, nodes thickened, variably pubescent, reddish-brown; leaves ovate-obovate or elliptical-oblong, 1-10 cm × 1-5 cm, base attenuate, apex obtuse or acute, glabrous to densely hairy, petiole 5-15 mm long; spike terminal and axillary, 10-75 cm long, including peduncle 0.5-15 cm long, rachis stiff, ribbed, more or less densely white hairy, bracts ovate, 2-3.5 mm long, apex acuminate, not pungent, silvery, bracteoles ovate, spines 2.5-4.5 mm long, sharp, basal wing adnate to spine, easily detaching, 1-2 mm long; tepals ovate-lanceolate, 3.5-6.5 mm long, 3-veined, green, pungent in fruit, pseudo-staminodes with a fimbriate scale; utricle oblong, about 3 mm long, dark brown. A. aspera occurs as a ruderal often in sunny, dry localities, in regions with a well defined rainy season, along roadsides and in waste places, from sea-level up to 2500 m altitude.

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.

215, 310, 379, 570, 605, 729, 739, 752, 760, 788, 821, 1071.


J. Raymakers & G.H. Schmelzer