Alternanthera ficoidea (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Alternanthera ficoidea (L.) P. Beauv.

Protologue: Fl. Oware 2: 66, pl. 99, fig. 1 (1818; "ficoides").


Gomphrena ficoidea L. (1753), Alternanthera tenella Colla (1828).

Vernacular names

  • Indonesia: bayam merah (general), jukut jatinangor (Sundanese), kecicak abang (Javanese)
  • Thailand: phakpet daeng, phrommi daeng, phakpet farang
  • Vietnam: rau dệu dỏ.


Native of tropical South America; introduced in Malesia (e.g. Sumatra, Java, Papua New Guinea) and elsewhere in South-East Asia as an ornamental.


A. ficoidea might be useful as an antiviral agent. The densely matted growth makes it suitable to be used to protect soil against erosion. It is commonly planted in gardens as ornamental. The leaves are sometimes eaten as a vegetable, e.g. in Sri Lanka.


A perennial herb up to 50 cm tall, erect or decumbent and rooting in lower part, often much branched and forming dense tufts, stems solid; hairs dentate; leaves oblong, oblong-obovate to spatulate, 1-6 cm × 0.5-2 cm, finely pilose when young but later glabrescent, often variegated with brownish-red, red, pink or yellow, petiole 1-4 mm long; flowering heads sessile; 3 outer tepals distinctly 3-veined, shiny white or yellowish, filaments united at base into a very short cup; fruit not produced in Malesia. In South-East Asia only var. versicolor (Lem.) Backer (synonyms: Alternanthera amoena Backer & v. Slooten, A. bettzickiana (Regel) Nicholson, A. ficoidea (L.) P. Beauv. var. bettzickiana (Nicholson) Backer, A. manillensis (Walp.) Kanis (1972), A. tenella Colla var. versicolor (Lem.) Veldk.) is cultivated. In fact, this taxon should be considered as a cultivar. It hardly ever sets fruit and besides being cultivated as an ornamental, is known as a non-persisting escape.

Selected sources

47, 93, 97, 580, 773, 805, 816, 1055, 1470.


R.H.M.J. Lemmens & S.F.A.J. Horsten