Alternanthera philoxeroides (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Alternanthera philoxeroides (Mart.) Griseb.

Protologue: Goett. Abh. 24: 36 (1879).
Family: Amaranthaceae


  • Ternanthera philoxeroides (Mart.) Moq. (1849).

Vernacular names

  • Alligator weed (En)
  • Indonesia: tolod, krokot (Java)
  • Burma (Myanmar): kanabaw
  • Thailand: phakpet-nam, phakpet.


Originating from tropical America, but often cultivated as an aquatic in other tropical areas, and often naturalized, e.g. in China, United States, Indonesia, and very locally elsewhere in Malesia (e.g. found in south-eastern Kalimantan).


In Indonesia young tops are eaten raw or cooked. In China plants are cultivated for compost-making. In the United States the plant is cultivated as food for lobsters.

An extract is used medicinally in India to treat "female diseases". It can be used as a tertiary filtration system for domestic sewage. In watercourses it is a noxious weed.


  • A perennial herb up to 1 m tall, ascending from a creeping or floating, rooting base, often much branched and forming a dense mass.
  • Stems fistulose in lower part with 2 hairy grooves.
  • Leaves oblong or oblong-obovate, 2-8 cm × 0.5-2.5 cm, glabrous or ciliate, petiole 3-6 mm long.
  • Flowering heads stalked or occasionally sessile; tepals 1-veined, shining white, filaments united at base into a distinct tube.
  • Fruit not produced in Malesia.

In Indonesia seed is never produced and propagation is only vegetatively. It occurs wild in swampy or very humid localities up to 1300 m altitude. In some places (Java) it is a serious aquatic weed.

Selected sources

7, 57, 66, 85. vegetables

93, 97, 106, 288, 868, 888, 1056, 1174, 1344, 1356, 1616. medicinals


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