Acanthus doloarin Blanco
Acanthus neoguineensis Engl.
Dilivaria ilicifolia (L.) Juss.
Acanthus ilicifolius is an erect or reclining shrub growing from 50 - 200cm tall with scarcely branched stems that often produce adventitious aerial roots[
]. The leaves have spiny edges when the plants are growing in an open position, but can be totally spineless when growing in the shade[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and material for making soap.
Asia - near the shoreline from southern India and Sri Lanka through tropical Asia to New Guinea and northern Australia
A gregarious plant that is very common along the banks of estuaries and lagoons, and in marshy land and mangroves close to the seashore. It is rarely found inland[
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A plant of the tropics, where it is found at near the shoreline in areas with no dry season or with a short dryseason. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 18 - 26°c, but can tolerate 15 - 32°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,500 - 2,500mm, but tolerates 1,000 - 3,000mm[
Prefers a position in full sun, tolerating some shade[
]. Grows best in heavier soils of moderate to high fertility[
]. Tolerant of flooding and of quite high levels of salt in the soil[
].Prefers a pH in the range 6.8 - 7.2, tolerating 6.5 - 7.5[
The plant sometimes forms a dense undergrowth in mangrove swamps that can be troublesome in wood-cutting operations[
The plants do not exclude salt at the root level. In fact, their sap is salty and excess salt is secreted through the leaves, to be removed by rain or wind. Sometimes, the salt can be seen as a white crystalline layer on the upper surface[
When the seedpods ripen, they open explosively to propel the seeds up to 2 metres away[
The aerial parts of the plant are rich in mucous and are considered to be astringent, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, resolvent, stimulant and nervine[
]. A porridge from them is taken as a remedy for bowel complaints[
]. The young leaves, combined with cinnamon bark, are chewed as a remedy for colic[
]. The leaves, crushed in water, are drunk to ease the birth process - this solution can also be drunk before an operation[
Applied topically, the leaves are used as a poultice on wounds, rheumatic joints and areas of neuralgic pain[
]. The tender shoots and leaves are used to ease the pain of a bite, including snake bites[
]. Combined with ginger, the leaves are ground and put on sore legs[
The stem and leaves are believed to promote longevity[
A decoction of the leaves and roots is used as a treatment for asthma[
The root is expectorant and febrifuge. It is used in the treatment of chronic fevers, coughs, asthma and paralysis[
]. When boiled in milk, it is largely used in the treatment of leucorrhoea and general debility[
]. A paste of the root combined with ginger is eaten as a treatment for colic and stitch in the side[
Applied topically, the leaves are used as a poultice on wounds, rheumatic joints and areas of neuralgic pain[310,The roots are chewed and laid on wounds caused by poison arrows; combined with a little ginger, they are ground and used as a poultice on swollen legs[
The ashes of the burnt plant are used as a lye for making soap[
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