Family • Amaranthaceae - Alternanthera sessilis L. - SESSILE JOYWEED - Lian zi cao

Scientific names

Alternanthera sessilis L.
Alternanthera denticulata F.Vill.
Achyranthes villosa Blanco
Gomphrena sessilis Linn.
Illecebrum triandrum Llanos
Illecebrum sessile L.

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Lian zi cao, Bai hua zi, Shui niu xi, Jie jie huo, Man tian xing.
FRENCH: Brede chevrette, Magloire.
INDONESIAN: Daun tolod.
MALAY: Daun tolod.
MALAYSIA: Keremak, Kermak putih.
PORTUGUESE: Bredo-D, Periquito-Sessil, Perpétua.
SINHALESE: Mukunu-wenna.

Common names

Abisrana (Ilk.)
Angelica (Sp.)
Aritana (Ilk.);
Bilanamanut (Mag.)
Bunga-bunga (Tag.)
Gogoat (Bon.)
Halangbang (If.)
Inginga (Ig.)
Kapal-kapal (Sul.)
Karitana (Bis.)
kokoong (Bon.)
Lapak-lapak (Sul.)
Putputok (Bon.)
Sakit (Bon.)
Tagtagtu (Bon.)
Alligator weed (Engl.)
Dwarf copperleaf (Engl.)
Sessile chaff flower (Engl.)
Sessile joyweed (Engl.)


Bunga-bunga is a spreading or prostrate, erect, more or less branched, glabrous, succulent herb, 0.4 to 1.4 meters high. The ultimate branches are covered with two lines of hairs on the internodes, and the flowering ones are ascending. Leaves are stalkless, simple or pinnately compound, the leaflets elliptic, crenate or obscurely toothed, usually about 2.5 to 7 centimeters long, thick and succulent. Flowers are minute, 5 to 7 millimeters long, paniculate, pendulous, white, and crowded in very short, axillary heads. Sepals are lanceolate, 2 to 2.5 millimeters long. Fruit is dry and flattened, broadly obcordate utricle, containing one seed.


– Very common weed in open, usually wet places throughout the Philippines, in settled areas at low and medium altitudes.
– Pantropic.

– High in antioxidant carotene.
– Phytochemical studies yielded B-carotene, ricinoleic acid, myristic, palmitic, stearic, oleic and linoleic acids, a-spiraterol, uronic acid, and B-sitosterol.
– Study of phenolic and flavonoid content revealed: total crude phenolic content, 1.529; total phenolic acid, 1.404; and flavonoids, 0.370 (values in mg/g dry wt.).
– Aqueous extract yielded alkaloid, tannins, ascorbic acid, carbohydrates and proteins.
– Various extracts of leaves yielded alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides, terpenoids, carbohydrates, anthraquinones, saponins, tannins, steroids.

– Slightly tart tasting, cooling, antiphlogistic-analgesic , antidermatosis, antiseptic.
– Considered febrifugal, galactagogue, abortifacient.

Parts utilized

Entire plant; use fresh.
May be collected the whole year round.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Alternanthera sessilis / Herb / Global Invasive Species Database

(2) Antimicrobial and wound healing activities of leaves of Alternanthera sessilis / Sunil S Jalalpure, Nitin Agrawal, MB Patil, R Chimkode, Ashish Tripathi / Int J Green Pharm 2008;2:141-4

(3) Hepatoprotective effects of Taiwan folk medicine: alternanthera sessilis on liver damage induced by various hepatotoxins / SONG-CHOW LIN; YUN-HO LIN ; SHYH-JONG SHYUU; CHUNG-CHING LIN

(4) Bioactivity of famine food plants from the family: Amaranthaceae / Singh, Alveera / Submitted in fulfillment for the Degree of Master of Technology (Biotechnology) in the Department of Biotechnology and Food Technology, Durban University of Technology, Durban, 2009.

(5) Alternanthera sessilis / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED

(6) Alternanthera sessilis Red Ethyl Acetate Fraction Exhibits Antidiabetic Potential on Obese Type 2 Diabetic Rats / Kok Keong Tan and Kah Hwi Kim / Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013 (2013) / http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/845172

(7) Anti- Inflammatory Activity of Leaf Extracts of Alternanthera sessilis / Subhashini T, Krishnaveni B and Srinivas Reddy C* / HYGEIA. J .D.MED, Vol.2, No.1,54-56, March-Aug, 2010

(8) Biosynthesis of silver nanoparticles using Alternanthera sessilis (Linn.) extract and their antimicrobial, antioxidant activities. / Niraimathi KL, Sudha V, Lavanya R, Brindha P. / Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces. 2013 Feb 1;102:288-91. doi: 10.1016/j.colsurfb.2012.08.041. Epub 2012 Sep 2.

(9) Central-stimulating and analgesic activity of the ethanolic extract of Alternanthera sessilis in mice /
Himangsu Mondal, Sanjib Saha, Khalijah Awang, Hemayet Hossain, Abdulwali Ablat, Md Khirul Islam, Ismet Ara Jahan, Samir K Sadhu, Md Golam Hossain, Jamil A Shilpi, Shaikh J Uddin / BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, October 2014, 14:398

(10) Antidepressant Like Effects of Alternanthera sessilis and Clerodendrum infortunatum Leaves Extract in Immobility Models / Gupta, Rajiv; K. Singh, Hemant / The Natural Products Journal, Volume 4, Number 1, March 2014, pp. 33-37(5)

(11) Ethanolic extract of Alternanthera sessilis (AS-1) inhibits IgE-mediated allergic response in RBL-2H3 cells./
Sheikh Rayees, Ajay Kumar, Shafaq Rasool, Peerzada Kaiser, Naresh Kumar Satti, Payare Lal Sangwan, Surjeet Singh, Rakesh Kamal Johri, Gurdarshan Singh / Immunol Invest 2013 19;42(6):470-80. Epub 2013 Jun 19.

• Some places, leaves and young shoots eaten as vegetables.
• In Ceylon, largely eaten as vegetable.
• In Africa, used for relishes, sauces and soups.
• Considered a famine plant.
• Poultice of pounded fresh material to sprains, burns and eczema.
• Carbuncle, erysipelas.
• Used as a wash for eyes.
• U used for treating acne vulgaris, dyspepsia, liver problems.
• Decoction used for nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dysentery, cough, bronchitis and diabetes.
• In West Tropical Africa, used as poultice for boils.
• In Sri Lanka, used for cystitis, gonorrhea, snake bite. Also, used by mothers to increase flow of milk.
• In Ghana, salted decoction used for hematemesis.
• In India, used for gastrointestinal problems; also as cholagogue, abortifacient and febrifuge. Also, used for snake bites.
• In Nigeria, for headaches and vertigo.
• In Taiwan, for hepatitis, bronchitis, asthma.
• Used for animal feed supplement.

bunga-bunga3Study Findings
• Antimicrobial / Wound Healing Activities / Leaves: Study on extract of leaves showed significant results in different models of wound healing: incision, excision, and granuloma studies. The presence of sterols was also confirmed.
• Hepatoprotective: A study on the hepatoprotective effects of Taiwanese herb Alternanthera sessilis on liver damage induced by various hepatotoxins showed hepatoprotective effects with a reduction of elevation of SGOT and SGPT .
• Ionone Derivatives / Antimicrobial: Chloroform extract of dried leaves yielded a mixture of diasteromers of a new ionone derivative with low activities against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Trichophyton mentagrophytes.
• Antioxidant: Study showed ethanol extract to have 70% free radical scavenging activity. Study concludes Alternanthera sessilis showed potent radical-scavenging activity and metal ion chelating activity.
• Antidiabetic: Study of aqueous extract of aerial parts showed significant dose-dependent antidiabetic activity with lowering of blood glucose concentration, glycosylated hemoglobin, LDL, total cholesterol.
• Antibacterial: The antibacterial effect of leaves and internodal-segments derived calli of A. sessilis was evaluated against Proteus vulgaris, Strep pyogenes, B subtilis and Salmonella typhi. the ethanolic extracts of leaves and leaves-derived calli were more effective against the selected bacterial than other solvents. Plants extracts showed antibacterial activity against Gram negative P. aeruginosa and Gram positive Staph epidermis.
• Hematinic Activity: Study showed that Lupo (A. sessilis) has hematinic activity particularly in iron deficiency anemia. Results suggest AS is a potential drug for augmentation of hemoglobin and serum ferritin in iron deficiency anemia.
• Antipyretic Activity: Study showed the ethanol extract of aerial parts of Alternanthera sessilis has dose-dependent antipyretic activity.
• Antibacterial / Antifungal: Plants extracts showed antibacterial activity against Gram negative P. aeruginosa and Gram positive Staph epidermis. Plant also showed antifungal activity against yeasts S. cerevisiae and Candida albicans.
• Nootropic / Memory Enhancing: Study evaluated the nootropic potential (memory enhancing effects) of methanolic extracts of leaves of A. sessilis and Clerodendrum infortunatum. The higher doses of both extracts exhibited promising nootropic potential, with C. infortunatum showing greater memory enhancing effect..
• Antidiabetic: Study investigated the antidiabetic potential of three fractions of crude ethanol extracts in high fat diet and STZ-induced diabetic rats. The red ethyl acetate fraction showed the most potent antihyperglycemic effect with higher pancreatic insulin content and pancreatic total dismutase activity. Results suggest a potential antidiabetic agent for T2DM.
• Anti-Inflammatory: Study investigated leaf extracts for anti-inflammatory activity by carrageenan-induced rat paw edema method. Extracts showed considerable dose-dependent activity, with the chloroform extract showing higher activity.
• Toxicity Study / Antidiabetic: Study on extracts from A. sessilis, S. cumini and A. bilimbi appeared safe, with no untoward effects on the kidney and liver when used as treatment for diabetes.
• Silver Nanoparticles Biosynthesis / Antimicrobial / Antioxidant: Study evaluated the use of aqueous extract in producing silver nanoparticles from silver nitrate aqueous. Phytochemical analysis yielded alkaloid, tannins, ascorbic acid, carbohydrates and protein which served as effective reducing and capping agents for converting silver nitrate into nanoparticles. Study investigated the antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of green synthesized AgNPs.
• Antioxidant: Comparative study of stem and leaf fractions of Alternanthera sessilis and Amaranthus tristis. Results showed A. sessilis have relatively more phytochemicals and radical scavenging activity, and the leaf fraction has more flavonoid and phenolic content than the stem fractions in both vegetables. Results suggest a potential for an ideal dietary antioxidant supplement.
• Antioxidant: Study evaluated various extracts of leaves for phytoconstituents, antioxidant activity and thrombolytic potential. Antioxidant activity increased with concentration of the leaf extract. Study also showed moderate clot lysis with increase in the percentage of lysis with concentration of the plant sample. Results suggest a chemopreventive potential for cardiovascular disease.
• Central Stimulating / Analgesic: Study evaluated the neuropharmacologic and analgesic activity of an ethanol extract of A. sessilis whole plant in mice models. Results showed central stimulating activity with significantly increased onset of sleep and decreased duration of sleep, with increased movements of mice during the study period. On hot plate test, the extract significantly increased pain threshold.
• Antidepressant / Leaves: Study of leaf extract showed antidepressant activity on Swiss albino mice using the Tail Suspension Test and Forced Swim Test. At higher doses, there was significant reduction of duration of immobility.
• Inhibition of IgE-Mediated Allergic Response: Study evaluated an ethanol extract of A. sessilis in rat basophilic leukemia (RBL-2H3) cells. Results showed significant reduction of ß-hexosaminidase release from anti-DNP-IgE sensitized RBL2H3 cells. There was also inhibition of IgE antibody-induced increase in interleukin-6 (IL-6), TNF-α-, IL-13 and IL-4 production in the cells. Results suggest decreased intracellular Ca++ is involved in the inhibitory effect on ß-hexoaminidase release. Study suggests a potential therapeutic application in allergic disease.