Phyllanthus urinaria (PROSEA)

From PlantUse English
Jump to: navigation, search
Logo PROSEA.png
Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Phyllanthus urinaria L.

Protologue: Sp. pl. 2: 982 (1753).


  • Phyllanthus lepidocarpus Siebold & Zucc. (1843),
  • Phyllanthus leprocarpus Wight (1852),
  • Phyllanthus verrucosus Elmer (1915).

Vernacular names

  • Leaf flower (Am).
  • Kikilé, petit tamarind rouge, urinaire de Malabar (Fr)
  • Indonesia: memeniran (Sundanese), meniran (Javanese), gosau ma dungi roriha (Ternate)
  • Malaysia: amin buah, dukong anak, keman jolok (Peninsular)
  • Philippines: laiolaioan (Bikol), ibaiba-an (Tagalog), takumtakum (Bisaya)
  • Cambodia: prak phlè
  • Laos: khao ham, khao ham 'sano khok
  • Thailand: ma khaam pom din (northern), maak khai lang (north-eastern), yaa tai bai (central, peninsular)
  • Vietnam: chó dẻ răng cưa, diệp hạ châu.


P. urinaria is native to the Asian tropics, but was introduced into America and Africa and is nowadays an almost pantropical weed; throughout the Malesian region.


P. urinaria has the same uses as P. amarus in South-East Asia, but P. amarus is generally preferred. In Malaysia, the juice is also used to clean a child's tongue and to stimulate a child's appetite. In Papua New Guinea, a decoction is used as a febrifuge. In Brunei, a leaf poultice is applied, with coconut milk, to smallpox. In Cambodia, it is used against malaria. In the Pacific, P. urinaria is known as an emmenagogue and abortifacient. In Guam, a decoction is employed to treat dysentery and in the Solomon islands the leaves are used to relieve pain in the chest. In India, P. urinaria is considered a very good diuretic.


  • A monoecious, generally annual, usually erect herb up to 80 cm tall with phyllanthoid branching, cataphylls scarious, their stipules ovate-lanceolate and conspicuously auriculate; deciduous branchlets (3-)5-13 cm long with 10-42 leaves; leaves oblong or elliptical-oblong to elliptical-obovate, 4-20(-25) mm × (1-)3-6(-9) mm, obtuse to rounded and sometimes slightly unequal at base, apex rounded to obtuse and often apiculate, subsessile, stipules unequal, triangular-lanceolate; proximal 5-20 nodes of deciduous branchlets with solitary female flowers, succeeding nodes bearing monochasia of 5-7 male flowers.
  • Male flowers with 6 calyx lobes, disk segments 6, stamens 3, filaments connate, anthers free, dehiscing vertically; female flowers subsessile, calyx lobes 6, disk cup-shaped, margin sometimes crenulate, styles fused at base into a triangular plate.
  • Fruit a globular capsule, about 2 mm in diameter, usually rugose.
  • Seeds with sharp transverse ridges on the back and sides.

P. urinaria is highly variable and two subspecies have been recognized. The rare subspecies nudicarpus Rossignol & Haicour has creeping branches that root on the nodes and smooth-skinned capsules; within Malesia it is found in the Philippines. P. urinaria is a common weed of waste places, clearings, gardens, along paths, but is also found in evergreen forest and bamboo forest. It grows on well-drained, fertile, sandy soils, sometimes on limestone, often in humid places or even in marshy ground, up to 1500 m altitude.

Selected sources

97, 202, 536, 580, 597, 965, 1035, 1126, 1128, 1135, 1204, 1255, 1380, 1386, 1476, 1525, 1555, 1560.

Main genus page


F.L. van Holthoon