Family • Urticaceae - Pilea microphylla Linn. - ARTILLERY PLANT - Xiao ye leng shui hua

Scientific names

Pilea muscosa Lindl..
Parietaria microphylla Lindl.
Pilea microphylla (Linn.) Liebm.

Common names

Alabong (Ig.)
Isang-dakot-na-bigas (Tag.)
Artillery plant (Engl.)
Military fern (Engl.)
Gunpowder plant (Engl.)
Xiao ye leng shui hua (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Tou ming cao, Xiao ye leng shui ma.
INDONESIA: Katumpangan, Akar nasi, Jalu-jalu bobudo.
VIETNAM: Ph[as]o b[oo]ng, L[aw]n t[aw]n.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Creole Remedies of Trinidad and Tobago / Cheryl Lans

(2) Ethnomedicines used in Trinidad and Tobago for reproductive problems / Cheryl Lans / J Ethnobiol Ethnomedicine. 2007; 3: 13. / doi: 10.1186/1746-4269-3-13.

(3) Antioxidant, Antimicrobial Activity and Toxicity Test of Pilea microphylla / Amir Modarresi Chahardehi, Darah Ibrahim, Shaida Fariza / Int J Microbiol. 2010; 2010: 826830. / doi:


(4) Pilea microphylla / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED

(5) Polyphenolic fraction of Pilea microphylla (L.) protects Chinese hamster lung fibroblasts against γ-radiation-induced cytotoxicity and genotoxicity. / Paul P, Bansal P, Nayak PG, Pannakal ST, Priyadarsini KI, Unnikrishnan MK / Environmental toxicology and pharmacology 33:1 2012 Jan pg 107-19

Alabong is a small,soft, smooth herb, 10 centimeters or less in height. Stems are slender, angular, green with a tint of purple, and angular. Leaves occur in two rows, petioled, somewhat elliptical in shape, 2 to 5 millimeters in length. Flowers are very small and crowded in small inflorescences (cymes) which are greenish or tinged with red and less than 1 millimeter in length.

– In and about towns, on damp walls, etc., throughout the Philippines.
– Native of tropical America.
– Now found in most tropical countries.

– Considered diuretic.

Parts utilized 
Entire plant.

– Entire plant infusion is used as a diuretic.
– Used for diarrhea and asthma.
– In the Antilles, sweetened decoction of roots used as diuretic.
– In Jamaica, entire plant used for women in labour; used for infertility and inflammation.
– In Brazil, used as a diuretic.
– In Guatemala, used for urinary problems.
– In Jamaican and Chinese medicine, used for diabetes.
– In western Panama, stem decoction drunk for diarrhea.

Study Findings
• Antioxidant / Radioprotective: An ethanolic extract of Pilea microphylla was found inhibit iron-induced lipid peroxidation. In screening for in vivo radioprotection in Swiss albino mice, it showed 80% protection. The fraction also protected livers of irradiated mice from depletion of endogenous antioxidant enzymes, provided general protection to the intestine from acute radiation effects.
• Non-Phenolic Antioxidant Activity: Results indicated that the antioxidant activity was not correlated with phenolic content and suggests that non-phenolic compounds may be responsible for the free radical scavenging activity.
• Antibacterial: • Study found PM active against Staphylococcus aureus. • In one study, P. microphylla exhibited a variety of antimicrobial activity against pathogenic microorganisms. The majority of crude extracts were active against Gram-positive bacteria such as B. cereus, B. subtilis, and methicillin-resistant Staph aureus.
• Antioxidant: Screening study demonstrated P. microphylla contained different levels of total phenolic, total flavonoid and possessed diverse antioxidant properties. It was most potent when subjected to detailed free radical scavenging.
• Antioxidant / Antimicrobial / Toxicity Testing: In a testing of 9 extracts, the methanol extract showed the highest antioxidant activity. A chloroform extract showed highest total phenolic contents. An extract showed antibacterial activity against Gram+ and Gram- bacteria without antifungal and antiyeast activity. A hexane extract showed no toxicity against brine shrimp.
• Antidiabetic: Screening in alloxan-induced diabetic rats showed that Pilea microphylla had beneficial benefits on blood glucose levels in normal and diabetic rats and also demonstrated significant protection from other metabolic aberrations cause by alloxan.
• Antidiabetic: Study evaluated the antidiabetic potential of a flavonoid rich fraction in C57BL/KsJ-db/db mice. Study yielded flavonoids quercetin (reported DPP-IV inhibitor), rutin, chlorogenic acid (reported lipid lowering property) along with others (luteolin-7-O-glucoside, apigenin- 7-O-glucoside, isorhoifolin). An overall antidiabetic effect could be the result of a combination of several constituents acting in concert.
• Radioprotective / Cytoprotective / Antigenotoxicity: Study compared the cytoprotective and antigenotoxic activity of the polyphenolic fraction with its active polyphenolic constituents against g-radiation in V79 cells. Results showed radioprotection probably from a synergistic effect of the phytochemicals present in the herbal extract rather than any single component.
• Phenolic Compounds and Prevention of Radiation-Induced DNA Damage / Antioxidant: Study yielded six phenolic compounds: quercetin-3-O-rutinoside 3-O-caffeoylquinic acid luteolin-7-O-glucoside apigenin-7-O-rutinoside apigenin-7-O-@b-d-glucopyranoside and quercetin. Pre-treatment with compounds 1-3 and 6 in V79 cells attenuated radiation-induced formation of reactive oxygen species, lipid peroxidation, cytotoxicity and DNA damage, correlating the antioxidant activity of polyphenols with their radioprotective effects.

Occasionally cultivated as a dish garden plant or cover plant.