Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Fl. aegypt.-arab.: 162 (1775).
n = 10
Origin and geographic distribution
Acalypha ciliata occurs from Senegal east to Ethiopia and south to Namibia and South Africa. It also occurs in Yemen, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, and probably elsewhere as a weed.
In Côte d’Ivoire a leaf decoction is drunk to treat female sterility. In Ghana mashed leaves are applied as a dressing to sores. In East Africa a root infusion is taken to treat schistosomiasis. In Senegal, Benin and Nigeria the leaves are eaten as a vegetable. In Senegal the plant is widely browsed by cattle, sheep and goats, but not by horses.
In an in-vitro experiment an aqueous leaf extract reduced the growth of Fusarium moniliforme (Gibberella fujikuroi) on maize grain. In field trials the leaf extract showed moderate activity against brown blotch disease (Colletotrichum capsici) and insect pests (Ootheca mutabilis, Nezara viridula, Clavigralla tomentosicollis and Maruca testulalis) of cowpea.
Monoecious, annual herb up to 1 m tall; stems shortly hairy. Leaves arranged spirally, simple; stipules linear, c. 2 mm long; petiole up to 7.5 cm long; blade ovate to elliptical-ovate, 4–10 cm × 1.5–5 cm, base cuneate to rounded, apex acuminate, margins coarsely toothed, membranous, sparingly and shortly hairy on both surfaces, later almost glabrous, 3–5-veined at base and with 4–5 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence an axillary, solitary or paired spike up to 5 cm long, densely flowered, lower 35–70% with female flowers, upper part with male flowers, sometimes terminated by a female flower; bracts in female flowers transversely ovate, becoming c. 6 mm × 12 mm, with many filiform segments 1.5–3 mm long. Flowers unisexual, sessile, petals absent; male flowers with 4-lobed, minute, granular dotted, greenish calyx, stamens 8, anthers yellow; female flowers with 3 ovate-lanceolate, c. 1 mm long, ciliate sepals, ovary superior, c. 0.5 mm in diameter, 3-celled, slightly 3-lobed, styles 3, free, c. 2 mm long, fringed, white. Fruit a 3-lobed capsule c. 1.5 mm × 2.5 mm, smooth, almost glabrous, splitting into 3 cocci, each 2-valved and 1-seeded. Seeds ovoid-globose, c. 1 mm in diameter, smooth, brown, caruncle elliptical.
Acalypha comprises about 460 species and occurs throughout the tropics, subtropics and warm temperate regions, excluding Europe. In tropical Africa about 65 species occur and in Madagascar and other Indian Ocean islands about 35 species.
Acalypha ciliata occurs on open and wooded grassland, in deciduous and coastal bushland, often in rocky or damp localities, near lakes and on flood plains, from sea-level up to 1650 m altitude. It is also a weed in fields. It avoids high rainfall areas.
As a weed, Acalypha ciliata can be controlled well by handweeding and several herbicides. In India Acalypha ciliata is a host of powdery mildew (Erysiphe cichoracearum); in Ghana it was found to be a host of root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.).
Genetic resources and breeding
Acalypha ciliata is widespread and weedy and not threatened by genetic erosion.
Acalypha ciliata is not commonly used as a medicinal plant, and its use will probably remain limited. With respect to crop protection, its insecticidal and fungicidal properties merit further research.
• Burkill, H.M., 1994. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 2, Families E–I. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 636 pp.
• Halvankar, G.B., Varghese, P., Taware, S.P. & Raut, V.M., 2005. Effect of herbicides on weed dynamics and yield of soybean. Journal of Maharashtra Agricultural Universities 30(1): 35–37.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Owolade, O.F., Amusa, A.N. & Osikanlu, Y.O.K., 2000. Efficacy of certain indigenous plant extracts against seed-borne infection of Fusarium moniliforme on maize (Zea mays L.) in south western Nigeria. Cereal Research Communications 28(3): 323–327.
• Radcliffe-Smith, A., 1996. Euphorbiaceae, subfamilies Phyllantoideae, Oldfieldioideae, Acalyphoideae, Crotonoideae and Euphorbioideae, tribe Hippomaneae. In: Pope, G.V. (Editor). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 9, part 4. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. pp. 1–337.
• Owolade, O.F., Alabi, B.S., Osikanlu, Y.O.K. & Odeyemi, O.O., 2004. On-farm evaluation of some plant extracts as biofungicide and bioinsecticide on cowpea in Southwest Nigeria. Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment 2(2): 237–240.
Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2007. Acalypha ciliata Forssk. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.