Adenostemma viscosum (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Adenostemma viscosum J.R. Forster & J.G. Forster

Protologue: Char. gen. pl.: 90, t. 45 (1775).
Family: Compositae
Chromosome number: 2n= 20


Adenostemma lavenia auct. non (L.) O. Kuntze (1891).

Vernacular names

  • Dung weed (En)
  • Indonesia: legetan warak (Javanese), rumput babi (Malay, Jakarta), udu tai (Kenyah Dayak, Kalimantan)
  • Papua New Guinea: tigtoni (Pala, Bismarck Archipelago), pisirokot (Lamekot, Bismarck Archipelago)
  • Philippines: boton (Tagalog)
  • Thailand: yieo muu (Chiang Mai)
  • Vietnam: cúc trắng, cỏ mịeh, cúc dínk.

Origin and geographic distribution

A. viscosum is found from Pakistan and India to Japan, South-East Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Islands, and also in tropical Africa.


In Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and southern China, A. viscosum is widely used as a medicinal plant. In Malaysia the crushed stems and leaves are applied as a poultice for headache, ulcerations of the nose, and on the abdomen against diarrhoea, also in association with Persicaria barbata (L.) Hara, and leaves of Uraria and Momordica species. The boiled leaves are rubbed on the skin to relieve itch and treat infected sores, and the whole body is rubbed in case of fever. In Indonesia, a lotion of the leaves is used to arrest baldness, a paste of the leaves is used to poultice sun-burned skin, and scorched, they are applied to boils and ulcers to ripen them. The leaves are also used for treating palpitations, dysuria, toothache, aphthae and sore throats. In Sabah, the leaf extract is given to prevent infections after childbirth. The leaves are chewed against dysentery, or together with those of Centella asiatica (L.) Urb. and Phyllanthus urinaria L. against colic. Fresh juice of the plant is used to treat ear infections, or together with that of the leaves of Mimusops elengi L. and of the bark of Baccaurea motleyana Müll. Arg., obtained by pounding these together, to treat sore eyes. In Peninsular Malaysia, a decoction of the root is given as a cure for stomach-ache. In Indonesia, the roots are chewed alone or together with Piper betle L. leaves and ginger against cough. In Taiwan, the whole plant is used to treat lung congestion, pneumonia, oedema and inflammation, while in the Bismarck Archipelago the stems and leaves are used as an antiscorbutic.

In Bali, the leaves of A. viscosum are eaten as a vegetable, but always in combination with other vegetables, because of their bitterness; they are also fed to pigs.

Production and international trade

A. viscosum is medicinally only used locally and is not traded on the international market.


Several kaurane-type diterpenes have been isolated from the extract of fresh whole plants of A. viscosum ,, for example adenostemmoic acids (11-oxygenated kauran-19-oic acids), and adenostemmosides (their corresponding glucosides). Two of these terpenes, ent-11α-hydroxy-15-oxo-kaur-16-en-19-oic acid and adenostemmic acid B showed cytotoxic activity in vitro against L-5178Y cultured leukaemia cells, and in vivo prolonged the survival of female mice inoculated with Sarcoma 180 cells. The extract of A. viscosum also shows cytotoxic activity in the brine shrimp assay. The aqueous alcohol extract exhibited hypoglycaemic and diuretic activities in rat.


An annual or sometimes perennial herb, 30-100 cm tall, often rooting at the lower nodes, sparsely branched, subglabrous to glandular pubescent. Lower leaves opposite, upper ones alternate, simple, lanceolate-elliptical to oblong to broadly ovate, 4-20 cm × 3-12 cm, base rounded-cuneate, apex acute to obtuse, margins dentate to serrate; petiole of lower leaves up to 9 cm long, upper leaves subsessile; stipules absent. Inflorescence consisting of heads in a lax terminal paniculate corymb; peduncle 1-4 cm long, involucre campanulate or cup-shaped, 2-seriate, scales subequal, herbaceous, more or less connate at the base, often glandular, head 3-7 mm × 6-10 mm, about 30-flowered. Flowers all tubular; corolla 1.5-2 mm long, 4-lobed, on the outside with glandular hairs, white or violet; stamens 5; ovary inferior; style bifid, branches slender, long thickened at the top. Fruit an achene, obovate-oblong, irregularly triangular, 2.5-4 mm × 1 mm, glandular when young, afterwards glabrous or warty, crowned with a pappus consisting of a few clavate setae, usually thickened at the top and glandular. Seedling with epigeal germination.

Growth and development

A. viscosum starts flowering 3 months after germination and flowers throughout the year when sufficient water is available.

Other botanical information

Adenostemma is pantropical and comprises 24 species with nearly equal amounts of diversity in the Old and New World tropics. Adenostemma belongs to the tribe Eupatorieae . The correct name of the species commonly referred to as A. lavenia is A. viscosum , whereas A. lavenia (L.) O. Kuntze is restricted to Sri Lanka only.


A. viscosum is found in open, disturbed sites and wet places along streams, in forests, thickets, and along roadsides, from sea-level to 2100 m altitude. In Pakistan it is a vigorous monsoon weed with a rich seed production. The sticky knobs of the pappus in combination with the more convex older receptacles of Adenostemma seem particularly suited for animal dispersal, which apparently accounts for the great distributional success of the genus.

Propagation and planting

A. viscosum is propagated by seed.


A. viscosum is simply collected from the wild whenever the need arises. Plants are readily available nearby human habitation.

Genetic resources and breeding

In view of its wide distribution and weedy nature, A. viscosum is unlikely to be at risk of genetic erosion in South-East Asia. No germplasm collections are known to exist.


The kaurane-type diterpenes in A. viscosum show interesting cytostatic activities in vitro and in vivo, but further research is necessary.


  • Cheng, P.C., Hufford, C.D. & Doorenbos, N.J., 1979. Isolation of 11-hydroxylated kauranic acids from Adenostemma lavenia. Journal of Natural Products 42(2): 183-186.
  • Fosberg, F.R & Sachet, M.-H., 1980. Flora of Micronesia 4. Caprifoliaceae - Compositae. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 46: 15-17.
  • Kasahara, S. & Hemmi, S. (Editors), 1995. Medicinal herb index in Indonesia. 2nd Edition. P.T. Eisai Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia. p. 1733.
  • King, R.M. & Robinson, H.E., 1987. The genera of the Eupatorieae (Asteraceae). Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 22: 58-60.
  • Robinson, H.E. & King, R.M., 1977. Eupatorieae - systematic review. In: Heywood, V.H., Harborne, J.B. & Turner, B.L. (Editors): The biology and chemistry of the Compositae. Academic Press, London, United Kingdom. pp. 437-485.
  • Shimizu, S., Miyase, T., Umehara, K. & Ueno, A., 1990. Kaurane-type diterpenes from Adenostemma lavenia O. Kuntze. Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 38(5): 1308-1312.

Other 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.


  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, 1948-1976. The wealth of India: a dictionary of Indian raw materials & industrial products. 11 volumes. Publications and Information Directorate, New Delhi, India.253, 329, 369, 370, 407, 524, 558, 588, 750, 772, 786, 788, 810, 841, 966.


G.H. Schmelzer