Phyllanthus debilis (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Phyllanthus debilis Klein ex Willd.

Protologue: Sp. pl. 4: 582 (1805).


  • Phyllanthus niruri L. var. debilis (Klein ex Willd.) Muell. Arg. (1863),
  • Phyllanthus niruri L. var. javanicus Muell. Arg. (1863),
  • Phyllanthus niruri auct. non L.

Vernacular names

  • Lagoon spurge (En)
  • Indonesia: meniran (Javanese), memeniran (Sundanese)
  • Vietnam: diệp hạ châu yếu.


P. debilis is probably native to southern India and Sri Lanka; introduced into Vietnam, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia (throughout), Papua New Guinea, the Pacific Islands, and the West Indies.


The uses of P. debilis are similar to those of P. amarus , with which it may have often been confused.


  • A monoecious, annual, erect, glabrous herb up to 100 cm tall with phyllanthoid branching; cataphylls narrowly lanceolate with triangular-lanceolate to triangular stipules; deciduous branchlets 4-10(-12) cm long, with 15-35 leaves.
  • Leaves subsessile, narrowly elliptical to narrowly elliptical-ovate, (5-)8-20 mm × 2.5-5 mm, cuneate at base, acute at apex, stipules lanceolate, acuminate; proximal 1-4 axils of deciduous branchlets with cymules of 2-4 male flowers, distal axils with solitary female flowers, sometimes accompanied by a few male ones.
  • Male flowers with 6 calyx lobes, disk with 6 segments, stamens 3, filaments completely connate, anthers free or partially connate, dehiscing horizontally; female flowers pedicellate, with 6 calyx lobes with wide scarious margin, disk entire to shallowly 6-lobed, styles free, appressed to the ovary, bifid to about the middle.
  • Fruit an oblate capsule about 2-2.5 mm in diameter, smooth.
  • Seeds radially and tangentially with longitudinal ribs and fine striae on the back.

P. debilis is locally an abundant weed of ruderal places, gardens, grassland and upland rice fields, preferring fertile soils, up to 2000 m altitude.

Selected sources

33, 102, 192, 1135, 1386, 1555, 1556.

Main genus page


F.L. van Holthoon