Chenille plant

Family • Euphorbiaceae - Acalypha hispida Burm. F - RED CAT'S TAIL

Scientific names

Acalypha hispida Burm. F
Acalypha sanderi N. E. Br.
Acalypha sanderi K. Schum.
Ricinocarpus hispidus (Burm. f.) Kuntze

Other vernacular names

VIETNAMESE: Tai turong duoi chon, Tai turong xanh.
MALAYSIA: Ekor kucing.

Common names

Buntot-pusa (Tag.)
Chenille plant (Engl.)
Monkey tail (Engl.)
Philippine medusa (Engl.)
Red cat’s tail (Engl.)
Red-hot cat tail (Engl.)

Acalypha hispida is a shrub growing to a height of 1-3meters. Leaves are alternate, petioled 2-11 cm long, broad-ovate, bright green atop, pale green underneath, with crenulate-serrate margins. Inflorescence is axillary, solitary, in long pendant spikes, up to 15-40 cm long. Flowers are small and bright red.

chenille plant

Popular garden cultivation for its decorative red catkins.

– Phytochemical screening yielded flavonoids, carbohydrates, phenols and alkaloids.
– Plant has yielded gallic acid, corilagin, cycloartane-type triterpenoids, quercetin and kaempferol derivatives.
– Leaves yielded kaempferol 3-O-rutinoside.
– Phytochemical screening of hexane extract (non-polar fraction) of leaves and twigs yielded flavonoids, carbohydrates, phenols, anthraquinones, cardiac glycosides, proteins, and alkaloids, with an absence of tannins, sterols and saponins. (see study below)
– Proximate composition of leaves showed moisture (11.02%), crude fate (6.15%), ash (10.32%), crude protein (13.78%), crude fiber (10.25%) and carbohydrate (44.48%). Aqueous and methanolic extracts of leaves yielded phenolics, flavonoids, hydroxyanthraquinones, saponins, steroids, and phlobatannins.

chenille plant2

– Diuretic, emollient, expectorant and laxative.
– Studies suggest antidiarrheal, anti-leishmanial, antioxidant, trypanocidal properties.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Antimicrobial constituents of the leaves of Acalypha wilkesiana and Acalypha hispida / S K Adesina et al / PTR. Phytotherapy research ISSN 0951-418X / 2000, vol. 14, no5, pp. 371-374

(2) Anthocyanins acylated with gallic acid from chenille plant, Acalypha hispida. / Bergitte Relersen et al / Phytochemistry Volume: 64 ISSN: 0031-9422 ISO Abbreviation: Phytochemistry Publication Date: 2003 Oct

(3) Acalypha hispida Burm.f. is an accepted name / Synonyms / The Plant List

(4) Antileishmaniasis and Phytotoxicity of three Nigerian Acalypha species / Patricia. A. Onocha*,Ganikat K. Oloyede, Omotayo O. Dosumu and Muhammad S. Ali / Archives of Applied Science Research, 2011, 3 (6):1-5


(6) Proximate Composition and Phytochemical Constituents of Leaves of Some Acalypha Species / O.M. Iniaghe, S.O. Malomo and J.O. Adebayo / Pakistan Journal of Nutrition 8 (3): 256-258, 2009

(7) Toxicity Studies of Combined Extracts of Acalypha hispida, Acalypha nervosa / Acalypha fruiticosa / K Bhargava Manikanta, P Raghu Varma, *P Vamsi Krishna, A Ravi Kumar, K M Subbu Rathinam / Indian Journal of Research in Pharmacy and Biotechnology ISSN: 2321-5674

(8) Phytochemical and anti diarrhoeal activity of combined extracts of Acalypha hispida, Acalypha nervosa and Acalypha fruiticosa / *Bhargav Manikanta, P Raghu Varma, P Vamsi Krishna, A Ravi Kumar, K M Subbu Rathinam / Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Vol 7, Issue 3, July-Sept 2014

(9) Preliminary Investigations on the Ethnomedicinal Plants of Akoko Division, South West Nigeria / Ige O. E. / Global Journal of Health Science Vol. 3, No. 2; October 2011

(10) Medicinal Plants Used for Diarrhoea by Tribals from Majhgawan Block of District Satna, Madhya Pradesh, India / Ravindra Singh* and Anjula Sharma / Ethno Med, 5(3): 205-208 (2011)

(11) Chemical constituents, toxicity and larvicidal activity of the essential oil from the leaves of acalypha hispida and acalypha wilkesiana in south-west Nigeria / Sherifat Aboaba and Olukemi Omotoso / Elixir Appl. Chem. 52 (2012) 11263-11265

(12) A Review on the Dietary Flavonoid Kaempferol / J.M. Calderón-Montaño, E. Burgos-Morón, C. Pérez-Guerrero and M. López-Lázaro* / Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry, 2011, 11, 298-344

Parts utilized
Bark, flower, leaves, root
Propagated by stem cuttings.

• Not known in the Philippines for medicinal applications.
• In Indonesia, a root and flower decoction is used for hemoptysis. Leaf poultice used for leprosy.
• In Malaya, decoction of leaves and flowers taken internally as laxative and diuretic for gonorrhea.
Bark used as expectorant and for asthma.
• In Africa, bark root used for pulmonary problems; leaf for leprosy, and flower for kidney ailments and as diuretic.
• In West Nigeria, leaves and stems soaked and boiled in water, used for skin rashes.
• In India, reported Mawasi tribal use of flowers for diarrhea.

chenille plant3

Study Findings
• Antimicrobial: Studies of leaf extracts isolated gallic acid, corilagin and geranin responsible for antimicrobial activity.
• Trypanocidal: Aqueous extract of Acalypha hispida leaves suggest trypanocidal effect.
• Anti-ulcer / Anti-tumor: Studies yielded geraniin and dehydroellagitannins which suggest diverse biological properties including anti-ulcer and anti-tumor effects, antibacterial activity against helicobacter pylori and antifungal activity.
• Phytochemicals: Phytochemical studies yield phenolics, flavonoids, hydroxyanthraquinones and saponins. It also detected steroids , phlobatannins and glycosides.
• Anthocyanins: Study isolated three anthocyanins from the red flowers of the chenille plant.
• Anti-Leishmanial: In a study of three Acalypha species, only A. hispida showed to have anti-leishmanial activity with an IC50 of 71.75 µg/mL
• Antioxidant / Antioxidant: Study evaluated a hexane extract for phytoconstituents and antioxidant activity. Study yielded flavonoids, carbohydrates, phenols and alkaloids. Results showed significant antioxidant activities when compared to ascorbic acid. The scavenging activity could be linked to flavonoid and phenol contents. (see constituents above)
• Toxicity Studies: Study in mice toxicity of combined extracts of three Acalypha species viz. Acalypha hispida, A. nervosa and A. fruiticosa. Subacute toxicity study showed no mortalities or evidence of adverse effects at highest dose of 2000 mg /kg of crude extracts.
• Antidiarrheal: Study evaluated the antidiarrheal potential of combined 70% hydroethanolic extracts of Acalypha hispida, A. nervosa and A. fruiticosa in castor oil-induced diarrhea in wistar rats. Results showed dose-dependent delay in the onset of induced diarrhea and also significant reduction in the number of diarrheal episodes and number of animals exhibiting diarrhea. Loperamide was used as standard drug.
• Essential Oil / Larvicidal: Study of leaves for essential oil yielded main constituents of neral (11.04%), citral (12.87%), 6,10,14, trimethyl-2-pentadecanone (13.43%) and n- hexadecanoic acid (14.69%). On toxicity for brine shrimps larvae (Artemia salina), LC50 value was 122.28 µg/mL, while activity against Anopheles gambiae showed an LC50 of 125 µg/mL.

– Milky sap from the leaves and stems are poisonous.
– Symptoms: Ingestion causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea; skin contact may cause acute dermatitis which may be severe.
– The toxic principle: diterpene esters.

Ornamental cultivation.