Family • Compositae - Pseudelephantopus spicatus (Juss.) Rohr. - DOG'S TONGUE - Jia di dan cao

Scientific names

Pseudelephantopus spicatus (Juss.) Rohr.
Distreptus spicatus Cass.
Elephantopus spicatus Aubl.
Elephantopus dubius Blanco
Jia di dan cao (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

FRENCH: Faux tabac des Samoa.
MANGAREVAN: Avaava havar.
MAORI: Tapuae ‘erepani.
SAMOAN: Vao elefane, vao maligi, vao malini.
SPANISH: Hierba de caballo.
TAHITIAN: Ava’a, Ava’ava, Ava’ava ha’avare, Rau’ara nu’a.
THAILAND: Do la do, Ton tai din. ch[aa]n voi gi[es].
VIETNAM: Ch[aa]n voi gi[es].

Common names

Ardatig (Bik.)
Dila-dila (Tag.)
Dilang-aso (Tag.)
Habul (Bik.)
Kabkaron (Ilk.)
Kalkalapikap (Bon.)
Maratabako (Ilk.)
Sigang-dagat (Tag.)
Sumag (Pamp.)
Supsuput (Bon.)
Dog’s tongue (Engl.)
False elephant foot (Engl.)
Iron weed (Engl.)
Tobacco weed (Engl.)

Dilang-aso is an erect, much branched, hairy or nearly smooth, rather stiff herb, 20 to 80 centimeters in height. Leaves are oblong-obovate and 9 to 14 centimeters long, with a blunt tip and narrowed base; those of the upper part of the stem are smaller. Flowering heads are about 1.5 centimeters long, without stalks, occurring in clusters of 2 to 5, borne in the axils of the very much-reduced leaves, and arranged along the few, elongated, spikelike branches of the inflorescence. Involucral bracts are green, the outer being much smaller than the inner ones. Achenes are linear-oblong, about 6 millimeters in length, ribbed and hairy, and glandular between the ribs. Pappus hairs are four, dilated, laciniate-cleft at the base, and unequal, two being straight and two being longer and abruptly recurved and again curved upward. Corolla is white and about 7 millimeters long.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) The pharmacological and pathological studies on Taiwan folk medicine (VI): The effects of Elephantopus scaber subsp. oblanceolata, E. mollis and Pseudoelephantopus spicatus / Lin CC, Yen MH, Chiu HF / Am J Chin Med. 1991;19(1):41-50.

(2) Antileishmanial sesquiterpene lactones from Pseudelephantopus spicatus, a traditional remedy from the Chayahuita Amerindians (Peru). Part III. / Odonne G, Herbette G, Eparvier V, Bourdy G, Rojas R, Sauvain M, Stien D. / J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Sep 1;137(1):875-9. Epub 2011 Jul 8.

(3) Pseudelephantopus spicatus / Common names / Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk / PIER

(4) Herbs and herbal constituents active against snake bite / Antony Gomex et al / Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol 48, Sept 2010, pp 865-878


– Common in waste places in settled areas generally, from the Batan Islands and northern Luzon to Mindanao, in most islands and provinces.
– Native to tropical America.
– Introduced from Mexico.
– Also occurs in the Marianne Islands, Taiwan, southern China, Taiwan, and Java.

– Column chromatography yielded fine white crystals which appeared to be glaucolide-B, a sesquiterpene lactone previously isolated from the species of the genus Vernonia.
– Study yielded five new sesquiterpene lactones, spicatolides D-H.

Vulnerary, antileishmanial, hepatoprotective, anticancer, antifungal, antidotal.

Parts used

– In Central Luzon, leaves used as topical for eczema.
– Leaves used as vulnerary.
– In India, bark used as antidote for snake bites.
– In Jamaica, used for fever, eye problems, and sprains.


Study Findings
• Antifungal / Cadinanolide: Study yielded a new sesquiterpene lactone from a chloroform extract of P. spicatus which was shown to exhibit moderate antifungal activity against Candida albicans and A. niger.
• Hepatoprotective: Study evaluating the liver protective effect of E. scaber, E. mollis and P. spicatus on CCl4 induced hepatotoxicity showed a moderate effect with P. spicatus.
• Spicatolides / Cytotoxic Sesquiterpene Lactones: Study yielded five new sesquiterpene lactones, spicatolides D-H with four known compounds. Tested against human cancer cell lines, compounds 1-4 showed cytotoxicity against the Hep3B and MCF-7 cancer cell lines.
• Germacranolides: Study yielded two novel germacranolides, stigmasterol, and glaucolide B.
• Teng-Khia-U / Anti-Inflammatory: ‘Teng-Khia-U,” a folk medicine from Taiwan, derived from E. scaber, E. mollis and P. spicatus, was evaluated for anti-inflammatory activity in CFA-induced chronic arthritis in rats. Results showed pretreatment with Teng-Khia-U significantly inhibited carrageenan-induced acute arthritis and significantly suppressed the development of chronic arthritis induced by CFA.
• Antileishmanial / Sesquiterpene Lactones: Study yielded three moderately to strongly active compounds: two hirsutinolids (8,13-diacetyl-piptocarphol and the 8-acetyl-13-O-ethyl-piptocarphol) and ursolic acid. IC50 against Leishmania amazonensis axenic amastigotes were 0.3, 0.37, and0.99, while IC50 for amphotericin B is 0.41 uM.