Family • Cyperaceae - Kyllinga monocephala Rottb. - WHITEHEAD SPIKEHEDGE - Dan sui shui wu gong

Mutha is a common name shared by both Cyperus rotundus (botobotones) and Kyllinga monocephala (anuang, borobotones). They have similar characteristics, and K. monocephala has been questioned on its use as a substitute. Rhizomes have similar appearances, and as crude drugs are hard to differentiate.

Scientific names

Kyllinga monocephala Rottb.
Kyllinga nemoralis (J.R. et G. Forst.) Dandy ex H. & D.
Kyllinga triceps Blanco
Kyllinga mindorensis Steud.
Kyllinga gracilis Kunth
Cyperus kyllingia Engl.
Dan sui shui wu gong (Chin.)

Common names

Anuang (Tag.) Kurukamoting-orig (Bik.)
Barubotones (Bis.) Malabotones (Bis.)
Bolobotones (Bis.) Mutha (Tag.)
Borobotones (Bis.) Mustra (Tag.)
Botoncillo (Bis.) Puñgos (S. L. Bis.)
Botonsilyo (Tag.) Sangsangitan (Bon.)
Bosobotones (Bis.) Sud-sud (Bis.)
Borsa-ñga-dadakkel (Ilk.) Uli-uli (Bag.)
Baki-baki (S. L. Bis.) Nut grass (Engl.)
Bosikad (C. Bis.) White-flowered kyllinga (Engl.)
Boskad (Bis.) Whitehead spikesedge (Engl.)
Busikad (P. Bis.) White water sedge (Engl.)
Katutu (Mag.)

Other vernacular names

CHAMORRO: Botoncillo, Chaguan lemae, Chaguan lemai, Chaguan ni, Manonogcha lemai.
HAWAIIAN: Kili’o’opu, Mau’u mokae.
MANGAREVAN: Mutie iwa.
MAORI: Matie karanga, Mauku ‘ōniāni, Neke ‘enua, Tama ‘enua
POHNPEIAN: LIimeiseri, Lingkarak tikitik, Rehlingkarak.
PUKAPUKAN: Vayavaya.
SAMOAN: Mo’u upo’o, Mo’u upo’o, Mutia, Ta’ata’a vili taliga, Tuise, tuise.
SPANISH: Botoncillo.
TAHITIAN: Matie Tahiti, Mo’u upoo, Pakopako, Pakopako ‘ae kuma.
TONGAN: Pakopako, Tuise.



Anuang is a perennial creeping hedge, more or less glabrous, arising from long-creeping rootstocks. Stems are usually solitary, 10 to 40 centimeters high, and 3-angled. Leaves are shorter than the stem, up to 15 centimeters in length or longer, 3 to 4 millimeters wide; with the bracts similar. Spikes are ovoid, simple, white, 8 to 13 centimeters long. Spikelets are very numerous, 3 to 3.5 millimeters long, the flowering glume distinctly winged along the keel. Inflorescence is a globose terminal head, 5 to 10 millimeters in diameter. Fruit is a nut , up to 1.5 millimeters long, oblong to suborbicular, with a lens-shaped achene.

– In waste places, open grasslands, etc., at low and medium altitudes throughout the Philippines.
– A major weed in improved pastures.
– Pantropic.

– Leaves yielded alkaloids, glycosides, saponins, and tannins.
– Total phenolic content was: alcoholic extract, 38.89 mg GAE/100 g; water extract, 40.13 mg/ GAE/100g.. Total flavonoid compounds were: alcohol extract, 4.15 mg QE/100 g; water extract, 4.75 mg QE/100g.

– Oil distilled from the roots is dark yellowish-green, with a pleasant odor and pungent taste.
– Considered diuretic, sudorific, refrigerant, demulcent and tonic.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Analgesic and Hypoglycemic Activities of Bixa orellana, Kyllinga monocephala and Luffa acutangula / Jusal Quanico, Evangeline Amor and Grace Perez / Philippine Journal of Science, 137 (1): 69-76, June 2008

(2) Kyllinga nemoralis (J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.) Dandy ex Hutch. & Dalziel, Cyperaceae / Common names / Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk / PIER

(3) Comparative Pharmacognostic Studies on Cyperus rotundus Linn. and Kyllinga monocephala Rottb. (Cyperaceae) / S.P Sudusinghe, P.Marasinghe and J.W Damunupola / Proceedings of the Peradeniya University Research Sessions, Sri Lanka, Vol. 16, 24th November 2011

(4) Analgesic activity of extracts of Kyllinga monocephala / Amor, Evangeline C.; Quanico, Jusal P.; Perez, Grace G. / Pharmaceutical Biology , Volume 47 (7) / Informa Healthcare – Jul 1, 2009

(5) α-Glucosidase inhibitory activity of selected Philippine plants. / Lawag IL, Aguinaldo AM, Naheed S, Mosihuzzaman M. / J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Oct 31;144(1):217-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2012.08.019. Epub 2012 Aug 27


(7) Plants used as Medicine by Paliyar Tribes of Shenbagathope in Virudhunagar District of Tamilnadu, India /
S. Shanmugam, N. Gayathri, B. Sakthivel, S. Ramar and K. Rajendran* / Ethnobotanical Leaflets 13: 370-78. 2009.

(8) Ethnomedicinal Plants Used by Residents in Northern Surigao del Sur, Philippines / Gemma A Gruyal*, Romeo del Roasario and Nenita D Palmes / Nat Prod Chem Res 2014, 2:4 /

(9) Evaluation of Total Phenolics and Flavonoids in Different Plant of Chhattisgarh. / Kumar Devendra, Dhurandhar Kiran, Verma Ritesh, Barman Satyendra, Kumar Abhishek / Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry 2013; 2 (4): 116-118

Parts used
Oil, roots, rhizome.

– Decoction of fresh roots used as sudorific in malaria with chills.
– Decoction of rhizome used as diuretic; mixed with oil, used externally for various forms of dermatoses.
– Decoction of root used as refrigerant, demulcent and tonic; used to relieve thirst in diabetes.
– Oil distilled from the root used to relieve itching
– In northern Surigao del Sur, infusion of stem and leaves used for headaches, muscle pains and fever.
– Oil used internally for torpor of the liver.
– Shares other properties and uses like Cyperus rotundus.
– In Tamilnadu, India, decoction of rhizome used for fever and cough.

Study Findings
• Analgesic / Hypoglycemic: Methanol extract study in mice showed K. monocephala to lower blood glucose level when administered 15 min after a glucose load. The extract also exhibited analgesic activity, significantly reducing the number of writhes in mice administered intraperitoneally with acetic acid to induce abdominal constriction.
• Antidiabetic: Different extracts of K. monocephala rhizomes were studied in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. An aqueous extract showed significant antidiabetic property. The antidiabetic effect was attributed to its main phytoconstituents–flavonoids and tannins.
• a-Glucosidase Inhibitory Activity: Study screened 80% aqueous ethanolic extracts of selected plants used as remedies for diabetes for potential a-glucosidase inhibitory activity. Except for A. bilimbi, all the plants, which included Kyllinga monocephala, exhibited significant enzyme inhibitory activity.
• Antioxidant / Antidiabetic: Study of root extracts significantly and dose dependently reduced blood glucose, and also decreased levels of cholesterol and triglyceride. Extract also showed antioxidant activity in the DPPH and NO assays.
• Anthelmintic / Root: Study evaluated a root extract for anthelmintic efficacy in an animal model. Results showed significant dose dependent anthelmintic activity. Standard drugs were piperazine citrate and albendazole. Results suggest potential for treatment of various types of worm infections in human beings, too.