Family • Lamiaceae - Hyptis capitata Jacq. - KNOBWEED

Scientific names

Hyptis capitata Jacq.
Pycnanthemum decurrens Blanco
Thymus virginicus Blanco

Other vernacular names

CHAMORRO: Batunes, Botones.
JAPANESE: Iganigakusa
POHNPEIAN: Pawehs, Pwetepwet.
SPANISH: Biojo, Cartagena amarilla, Chirrite, Cordon de fraile.
TAHITIAN: Maa uupo.
YAPESE: Pathpath.

Common names

Arbaka (Maranao) Tabaku-tabaku (Ilk.)
Bababañga (Bon.) Tarotabako (Bik.)
Botonesan (Tag.) Tetetei (Bon.)
Kambali (Tag.) Tultulisan (Ilk.)
Kombar-kombaran (Tag.) Turukan (Tag.)
Leng-leñga (Bon.) Bachelor’s button (Engl.)
Liñga-liñgahan (Tag.) Buttonweed (Engl.)
Palapasagi (P. Bis.) False ironwort (Engl.)
Palopalot (Ilk.) Knobweed (Engl.)
Pansi-pansi (Bik.)

Boto-botonesan or phonetic variations are shared by four plants of different species: (1) Mutha (Cyperus rotundus) Boto-botones (2) Gatas-gatas (Euphorbia hirta) botobotonis, botbotonis, botonis (3) Botoncillo (Gomphrena globosa) botbotonis, botones-botonesan, and (4) Botonesan (Hyptis capitata): bababañga, liñga-liñgahan.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Anti-AIDS Agents. 30. Anti-HIV Activity of Oleanolic Acid, Pomolic Acid, and Structurally Related Triterpenoids / Yoshiki Kashiwada et al / J. Nat. Prod., 1998, 61 (9), pp 1090–1095
DOI: 10.1021/np9800710

(2) Hyptis capitata / Common names / PIER

(3) Lamiaceae—Hyptis capitata / Plants For Use

(4) Ubiquitous Ursolic Acid: A Potential Pentacyclic Triterpene Natural Product. / Ibrahim T Babalola*, Francis O. Shode / Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, Vol 2, No 2, 2013

Botonesan is a stout, erect, nonaromatic, hairy, annual herb, about 0.5 to 1.5 meters high, with green or purplish 4-angled stems. Leaves are lanceolate, 8 to 14 centimeters long, with toothed margins. Flowers are numerous, crowded in long-peduncles, growing up to 10 centimeters in length and the heads 1to 2 centimeters in diameter with basal involucres of hairy bracts. Calyx is green, 4 millimeters long, accrescent, 8 millimeters long in fruit. Corolla is white, 6 millimeters long.

– From northern Luzon (Cagayan) to Mindanao, In all or most islands and provinces, as a weed in settled areas, occurring in open, waste places, fallow rice paddies, etc.
– Introduced from Mexico.
– Now also established in the Marianne and Caroline Islands in Taiwan, in Java, and in Amboina.


• Contains alkaloids, camphor, cyanogenic glycosides and alkaloids.
• Study isolated two new compounds: a lignan and a pyrone; with no alkaloids.
• Yields ursolic acid (3β-hydroxyurs-12-en-28-oic) (UA), a pentacyclic triterpene.



– Tonic, stimulant, carminative, vulnerary.
Parts utilized
Leaves, roots

– In the Philippines, decoction of leaves used to clean wounds.
– Decoction of roots used for amenorrhea.
– Used by the Maranaos for dry cough and tooth aches; gas pains in infants and convulsions in children.
– In Malaysia, used for stomach ache; the young leaves are pounded into a paste and applied to the affected areas.
– In Martinique, used as tonic and excitant.
– In Antilles, used as a stimulant.
– In Costa Rica, plant decoction held in mouth to alleviate toothaches. Also drunk for gastrointestinal distress. In Jamaica, plant decoction used as cold remedy. In El Salvador, plant used as tonic and stimulant.
– In Bangladesh, leaf juice is taken orally for malaria. Root and leaf paste is applied to cuts and abrasions to prevent infection.

Study Findings

• Cytotoxicity: Study isolated five triterpene acids including new hyptatic acids. Hyptatic acid A and 2a-hydroxyursolic acid demonstrated in vitro cytotoxicity in human colon HCT-8 tumor cells.
• Oleanolic Acid / Pomolic Acid / Anti-HIV Activity: Oleanolic acid was identified as anti-HIV principle from several plants, including Hyptis capitata. Study also isolated pomolic acid from H capitata, also identified as an anti-HIV agent.