If you would like to support this site, please consider Donating.
Useful Tropical Plants

Phyllanthus amarus

Schumach. & Thonn.

Phyllanthaceae


Until about 1980, taxonomists placed a number of species, including this one, under Phyllanthus niruri L. Where the name Phyllanthus niruri has been applied in older literature to African or Asian specimens, usually Phyllanthus amarus is intended, but sometimes also Phyllanthus debilis, Phyllanthus fraternus, Phyllanthus maderaspatensis or Phyllanthus rotundifolius. Specimens of true Phyllanthus niruri have actually never been confirmed from outside the Americas. In pharmacological literature the confusion between Phyllanthus fraternus and Phyllanthus amarus still persists[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

+ Synonyms

Diasperus nanus (Hook.f.) Kuntze

Phyllanthus nanus Hook.f.

Phyllanthus niruri baronianus (Leandri) Leandri

Phyllanthus niruri amarus (Schumach. & Thonn.) Leandri

Phyllanthus niruri scabrellus (Webb) Müll.Arg.

Phyllanthus niruroides madagascariensis Leandri

Phyllanthus scabrellus Webb

Phyllanthus swartzii Kostel.

Common Name:

Phyllanthus amarus
Flowering plant (the flowers are mainly hidden behind the stems
Photograph by: Tony Rodd
Creative Commons License
Phyllanthus amarus Phyllanthus amarus Phyllanthus amarus

General Information

Phyllanthus amarus is an erect, annual plant growing from 10 - 50cm tall, but usually less than 30cm[
305
Title
Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hear.org/pier/scientificnames/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A very good website detailing weed species that have been introduced into the Pacific Islands.
,
595
Title
Journal of the Arnold Arboretum Vol. 38
Publication
 
Author
Various
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Harvard University.
Year
1957
ISBN
 
Description
Amongst other things, it contains an article on the Juglans of central America. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. The stem can be branched or unbranched[
595
Title
Journal of the Arnold Arboretum Vol. 38
Publication
 
Author
Various
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Harvard University.
Year
1957
ISBN
 
Description
Amongst other things, it contains an article on the Juglans of central America. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
The plant is commonly gathered from the wild for local medicinal use. It is cultivated for medicinal use in some areas, especially India, and is traded commercially[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. There are some named varieties[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

595
Title
Journal of the Arnold Arboretum Vol. 38
Publication
 
Author
Various
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Harvard University.
Year
1957
ISBN
 
Description
Amongst other things, it contains an article on the Juglans of central America. It can be downloaded from the Internet.

Range

S. America - all countries; Caribbean - Trinidad to the Bahamas; C. America - Panama to Mexico; S. E. N. America - Florida.

Habitat

A weed in villages, gardens, and cultivated fields[
305
Title
Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hear.org/pier/scientificnames/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A very good website detailing weed species that have been introduced into the Pacific Islands.
]. Open localities, waste ground, grassy scrub vegetation and dry deciduous forest, usually on humid, sandy soils, at elevations from sea-level up to 1,000 metres[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Properties

Weed PotentialYes
Medicinal Rating *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitAnnual
Height0.30 m
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Wild

Cultivation Details


Requires a sunny position. Sandy loam and black soils with a pH of 7.5 - 8 are considered best[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The plant has explosive seed capsules that propel the seeds some distance from the plant[
372
Title
Flowers of India
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.flowersofindia.net/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Good quality photos and terse details on almost 2,000 species and cultivars.
]. Originally native to tropical America, the plant has spread to become a weed, often invasive, in many areas of the Tropics[
305
Title
Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hear.org/pier/scientificnames/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A very good website detailing weed species that have been introduced into the Pacific Islands.
]. The plant is reported to be a troublesome weed in pulses, soya bean, groundnut, cereals, sugar cane, cassava, taro, sesame, sunflower and cotton[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal

Phyllanthus amarus is widely used as a medicinal plant and is considered to be a good tonic, diuretic and febrifuge[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. There has been considerable research into the medicinal properties of the plant, much of it supporting the traditional uses.
The following chemical constituents have been isolated: lignans (e.g. phyllanthin, hypophyllanthin, phyltetralin, nirtetralin, niranthin), ellagitannins (phyllanthusiin D, amariinic acid, elaeocarpusin, repandusinic acid A and geraniinic acid B), flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids of the quinolizidine type, phenolic compounds and a chroman derivative[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The alkaloid phyllanthine must not be confused with the lignan phyllanthin.
The leaves were found to contain the highest amounts of phyllanthin (0.7%) as compared to the whole plant: phyllanthin (0.4%), hypophyllanthin (1.2%), gallic acid (0.4%) and ellagic acid (0.2%)[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Phyllanthin and hypophyllanthin have protective activity against cytotoxicity. However, phyllanthin has also been reported to be toxic to the nervous system and liver[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Aqueous extracts show potent anticarcinogenic activity against development of different tumour types[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]
Fresh plant material and a methanol extract showed strong antioxidant activity in various antioxidant assays. Drying of the plant material caused a significant reduction in antioxidant properties. On the other hand, boiling water extracts exhibited significantly stronger antioxidant potentials even from dried plant material due to greater solubility of compounds, breakdown of cellular constituents as well as hydrolysis of tannins[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
A whole plant extract showed significant radioprotective activity, by decreasing the damage to intestinal cells, decreasing the lipid peroxidation levels, decreasing the percentage of chromosomal aberrations and by elevating the antioxidant enzymes in the intestine, blood and liver[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Various tests have demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory potential[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Methanolic extracts of leaves, roots and fruits showed significant concentration-dependent antibacterial activity in vitro against a range of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria; leaf extracts showed the highest activity[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
A chloroform fraction of the aerial parts showed a significant inhibitory effect against the dermatophytic fungus Microsporum gypseum and against the yeast Candida albicans[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Fresh leaves have been found to contain high levels of Manganese (465 ppm), Copper (21.8 ppm), Zinc (75.1 ppm). The levels of several toxic compounds are high enough to constitute a threat to animals consuming them and the use of the leaves for medicinal purposes should also be monitored[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

A decoction of the whole plant, combined with honey, is used as a cough medicine[
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
]. An infusion is used as a remedy for dysentery and as a blood purifier (bitter tonic) to reduce blood-sugar levels[
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
]. The plant is also used in cases of difficult childbirth, for oedemas and to counter costal and fever pains and sore-throat. A decoction of the whole plant is taken as a remedy for blennorrhoea, oliguria and venereal diseases[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
332
Title
The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
Burkil. H. M.
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew.
Year
1985 - 2004
ISBN
 
Description
Brief descriptions and details of the uses of over 4,000 plants. A superb, if terse, resource, it is also available electronically on the Web - see http://www.aluka.org/
].
The plant is reduced to a paste and prepared as a vaginal suppository to induce menstruation. This paste is also administered by enema to infants as an antidote to poison[
332
Title
The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
Burkil. H. M.
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew.
Year
1985 - 2004
ISBN
 
Description
Brief descriptions and details of the uses of over 4,000 plants. A superb, if terse, resource, it is also available electronically on the Web - see http://www.aluka.org/
].

The aerial parts of the plant are used in a bitter infusion as a cholagogue, diuretic, febrifuge and stomachic. It has been used as a substitute for quinine[
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
]. It is also used by mothers after childbirth to bring relief to painful wombs and to treat colic[
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
].

An infusion of the leaves is used as a treatment for haemorrhoids, either on its own or in combination with citron juice and the powdered fruits of Xylopia aethiopica[
332
Title
The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
Burkil. H. M.
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew.
Year
1985 - 2004
ISBN
 
Description
Brief descriptions and details of the uses of over 4,000 plants. A superb, if terse, resource, it is also available electronically on the Web - see http://www.aluka.org/
].

The sap is taken in draught as a remedy for costal pains, tachycardia, blennorrhoea and female sterility, by ear-instillation for otitis, and by topical application to maturate furuncles and abscesses[
332
Title
The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
Burkil. H. M.
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew.
Year
1985 - 2004
ISBN
 
Description
Brief descriptions and details of the uses of over 4,000 plants. A superb, if terse, resource, it is also available electronically on the Web - see http://www.aluka.org/
]. A cold leaf-infusion is taken to relieve stomach-pains[
332
Title
The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
Burkil. H. M.
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew.
Year
1985 - 2004
ISBN
 
Description
Brief descriptions and details of the uses of over 4,000 plants. A superb, if terse, resource, it is also available electronically on the Web - see http://www.aluka.org/
].

The ripe fruit and seeds are considered vermifugal[
332
Title
The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
Burkil. H. M.
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew.
Year
1985 - 2004
ISBN
 
Description
Brief descriptions and details of the uses of over 4,000 plants. A superb, if terse, resource, it is also available electronically on the Web - see http://www.aluka.org/
].

The plant contains alkaloids, flavonoids and triterpenes. It has shown antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral activity[
348
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
Publication
 
Author
DeFilipps, R. A.; Maina, S. L.; & Crepin, J.
Website
http://botany.si.edu/bdg/medicinal/index.html
Publisher
Smithsonian Museum
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A down-loadable PDF document of a book in pre-publication awaiting illustration. An excellent, if rather terse, guide to the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the region
].

Agroforestry Uses:

The plant is said to have sand-binding properties[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
332
Title
The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
Burkil. H. M.
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew.
Year
1985 - 2004
ISBN
 
Description
Brief descriptions and details of the uses of over 4,000 plants. A superb, if terse, resource, it is also available electronically on the Web - see http://www.aluka.org/
].

Other Uses

The leaves, rubbed between the hands, give a lather[
332
Title
The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
Burkil. H. M.
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew.
Year
1985 - 2004
ISBN
 
Description
Brief descriptions and details of the uses of over 4,000 plants. A superb, if terse, resource, it is also available electronically on the Web - see http://www.aluka.org/
].

Chloroform and ethanolic extracts of the aerial parts and roots showed significant larvicidal activity against Anopheles stephensi larvae. An ethanolic root extract possessed significant activity against Tribolium castaneum, a pest of stored grain[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Norsecurinine, isolated from the aerial parts, showed significant activity against spore germination of the crop fungi Alternaria brassicae, Alternaria solani, Curvularia pennisetti, Erysiphe pisi and Helminthosporium frumentacei under glasshouse conditions[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Propagation

Seed - requires light to germinate[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Sow in situ - the small seed is usually mixed with sand[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Germination is often less than 50%; germination of freshly harvested seeds is slower than that of older seeds[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Seeds dried to 8% moisture content and treated with turmeric rhizome powder under ambient conditions maintained viability for up to 6 months; untreated seeds stored poorly[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Add a Comment:

If you have any useful information about this plant, please leave a comment. Comments have to be approved before they are shown here.