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Boerhavia diffusa


Boerhavia diffusa is a species of flowering plant in the four o'clock family which is commonly known as punarnava (meaning that which rejuvenates or renews the body in Ayurveda),<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> red spiderling,<ref name=grin/> spreading hogweed,<ref name=grin/> or tarvine.<ref name=grin/> It is taken in herbal medicine for pain relief and other uses. The leaves of Boerhavia  diffusa are often used as a green vegetable in many parts of India.


A small bird with tiny sticky fruit stuck below the eye
Fruit of B. diffusa stuck to face of juvenile sooty tern

Boerhavia diffusa is widely dispersed, occurring throughout India, the Pacific, and southern United States. This wide range is explained by its small fruit, which are very sticky and grow a few inches off the ground, ideally placed to latch on to small migratory birds as they walk by.<ref name=carlquist/>

Traditional Uses

Having anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties, Boerhavia diffusa (Punarnava) is said to be a good cure for Amavata (a disease in which reduction of Vata Dosha and accumulation of Ama take place in joint(s), and simulates rheumatoid arthritis (RA)). The root acts as an anticonvulsant, analgesic, laxative medication that when rubbed in honey can be locally applied for cataract, chronic conjunctivitis and blepharitis. Useful for curing heart diseases, anemia and edema (or oedema), Punarnava is an effective remedy that reduces swelling and foul smell in skin disorders. Apart from the root, Punarnava’s leaves are also consumed as a vegetarian dish to reduce oedema.

As an Ayurvedic medicine, this herb is said to cure disorders like intestinal colic, kidney disorders, cough, hemorrhoids, skin diseases, alcoholism, insomnia, eye diseases, asthama and jaundice.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>


A true and accurate accounting of the native range of Boerhavia diffusa has not been determined. However, it is very widespread, and has become naturalized in many places. It is believed<ref name=grin/> to be a native plant to the following places:

  • Africa

Botswana; Egypt; Ghana; Kenya; Liberia; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; Nigeria; Rwanda; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa (Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape provinces); Swaziland; Tanzania; Togo; Uganda; Zambia; and Zimbabwe.

  • Asia

Burma; Cambodia; ( Pakistan Punjab kpk sindbalochistan Kashmirgilgit Baltistan) (Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces) India;Bangladesh; Indonesia; Japan (Ryukyu Islands); Laos; Malaysia; Nepal; the Philippines; southern Taiwan; Thailand; and Vietnam. Also, on the Arabian Peninsula: Oman; Saudi Arabia; and the United Arab Emirates; and Yemen (Socotra).

  • North America

Mexico; and the U.S. (in the states of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina).

  • Caribbean

Anguilla; the Bahamas; the Cayman Islands; Cuba; Dominica; Grenada; Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti); Jamaica; Montserrat; the Netherlands Antilles (Saba); Puerto Rico; Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; and both the British and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

  • South America

Argentina; Belize; Bolivia; Chile; Costa Rica; Ecuador; French Guiana; Guatemala; Guyana; Nicaragua; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Suriname; Uruguay; and Venezuela.

  • South Pacific

Fiji; and New Caledonia.

Economic importance

B. diffusa is widely used as a green leafy vegetable in many Asian and African countries. B. diffusa can be used as a fodder for livestock, but has the potential for contaminating seed stocks, and may harbor pathogens for certain crops, such as eggplants.<ref name=grin/>


Boeravinones G and H are two rotenoids isolated from B. diffusa.<ref name=pmid17341062>Template:Cite journal</ref> A quinolone alkaloid, lunamarine, isolated from B. diffusa<ref name=ctdbase/> has shown some in vitro anticancer,<ref name=manu&kuttan1/> antiestrogenic,<ref name=sreeja&sreeja/> immunomodulatory,<ref name=manu&kuttan2/> and anti-amoebic activity (particularly against Entamoeba histolytica).<ref name="sohni, etal"/> The plant contains a protein called BDP-30, presumably a ribosome-inactivating protein.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>



External links

Template:WestAfricanPlants Template:Commons category