Family • Aizoaceae - Trianthema portulacastrum Linn. - DESERT HORSE PURSLANE - Jia hai ma chi

Scientific names

Trianthema portulacastrum Linn.
Trianthema monogyna Linn.
Portulaca toston Blanco
Portulaca axilliflora Blanco

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Shu mo shi ma chi xian.
HINDI: Santhi, Patharchatta.
SPANISH: Verdolaga, Verdolaga blanca, Verdolaga de cochi, Verdolaga de hoja ancha.
VIETNAMESE: Sam bien, Co tam khoi, Rau sam gia.

Common names

Ayam (Bis.)
Gulasimang-aso (Tag.)
Toston (Tag.)
Toston (Tag.)
Ulisuman (P. Bis.)
Desert horse purslane (Engl.)
Black pigweed (Engl.)
Giant pigweed (Engl.)
Jia hai ma chi (Chin.)

Toston is a weed; a smooth or nearly smooth, prostrate, somewhat succulent herb, with branches up to 60 centimeters in length, with a rounded, tapering base and apiculate apex. Flowers are axillary, solitary, and stalkless, with pink, overlapping, oblong, mucronate calyx-lobes, 4 to 5 millimeters long. Capsule is truncate, 5 to 6 millimeters long. Seeds are about 10, small, black and kidney-shaped.


– Common weed throughout the Philippines at low and medium altitudes.
– Abundant in recently disturbed soil.
– Pantropic.


• Root contains a glucoside with saponin-like properties.
• Methanolic extract of leaves yielded carbohydrates, protein, volatile oils, glycosides, saponins, flavonoids, alkaloids.
• The principal constituent is ecdysterone; other constituents are trianthenol, 3-acetylaleuritolic acid, 5,2′-dihydroxy-7-methoxy-6,8-dimethylflavone, leptorumol, 3,4-dimethoxy cinnamic acid, 5-hydroxy-2-methoxybenzaldehyde, p-methoxybenzoic acid, and beta cyanin.


• Roots considered lithotriptic, diuretic, analgesic, stomachic, laxative and alterative; emmenagogue and cathartic in large doses.
• Roots are sweet when fresh. Others report it as bitter and nauseous.
• Studies have suggested antioxidant, diuretic, analgesic, hepatoprotective, anthelmintic, anti-diabetic properties.

Parts utilized

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Hepatoprotective activity of Trianthema portulacastrum L. against paracetamol and thioacetamide intoxication in albino rats / G kumar et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol 92, Issue 1, May 2004, Pages 37-40 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2003.12.009

(2) Evaluation of the antioxidant activity of Trianthema portulacastrum L / G Kumar, G S Banu and M R Pandian / RESEARCH LETTER, 2005 | Volume : 37 | Issue : 5 | Page : 331-333

(3) EFFECT OF ETHANOLIC LEAF EXTRACT OF TRIANTHEMA PORTULACASTRUM L. ON AFLATOXIN INDUCED HEPATIC DAMAGE IN RATS / G Sharmilla Banu et al / Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry, 2009 / 24 (4) 414-418

(4) Hypoglycemic and Hypolipidemic Activities of Trianthema portulacastrum Linn. Plant in Normal and Alloxan Induced Diabetic Rats / R N R Anreddy et al / Int. J. Pharmacol., 6: 129-133 / DOI: 10.3923/ijp.2010.129.133

(5) Protective effect of methanolic extract of Trianthema portulacastrum in atherosclerotic diet induced renal and hepatic changes in rats / A Shyam Sunder, A Rama Narsimha Reddy et al / Scholars Research Library
Der Pharmacia Lettre, 2010: 2 (1) 540-545

(6) Anthelmintic activity of Trianthema portulacastrum L. and Musa paradisiaca L. against gastrointestinal nematodes of sheep / Altaf Hussain, Muhammad Nisar Khan et al / Veterinary Parasitology, Vol 179, Issues 1-3, 30 June 2011, Pages 92-99 / doi:10.1016/j.vetpar.2011.02.022

(7) Trianthema portulacastrum / Common name details / PIER

(8) Antihyperglycemic Activity of Trianthema Portulacastrum Plant in Streptozotocin Induced Diabetic Rats / A. Shyam Sunder*, G. Rajyalakshmi, A. Bharath, and Y. Rajeshwar / Pharmacologyonline 1: 1006-1011 (2009)

(9) Hypoglycemic and Hypolipidemic Activities of Trianthema portulacastrum Linn. Plant in Normal and Alloxan Induced Diabetic Rats / R.N.R. Anreddy, M. Porika, N.R. Yellu and R.K. Devarakonda / International Journal of Pharmacology, 6: 129-133. / DOI: 10.3923/ijp.2010.129.133

(10) Trianthema portulacastrum Linn. (Bishkhapra) / Manoj K. Shivhare, P. K. Singour, P. K. Chaurasiya, and Rajesh S. Pawar / Pharmacogn Rev. 2012 Jul-Dec; 6(12): 132–140. / doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.99947

(11) Trianthema portulacastrum Linn. Displays Anti-Inflammatory Responses during Chemically Induced Rat Mammary Tumorigenesis through Simultaneous and Differential Regulation of NF-κB and Nrf2 Signaling Pathways / Animesh Mandal and Anupam Bishayee* / Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16, 2426-2445 / doi:10.3390/ijms16022426

(12) Diuretic Activity of Trianthema portulacastrum Crude Extract in Albino Rats / Muhammad Asif*, Muhammad Atif, Amin Shah Abdul Malik, Zahari Che Dan, Irshad Ahmad and Ashfaq Ahmad / Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research December 2013; 12 (6): 967-972 /

(13) Antilithiatic Activity of Trianthema portulacastrum l. and Gymnema sylvestre R.Br against Ethylene Glycol induced Urolithiasis / Sree lakshmi K*, Prabhakaran V, Mallikarjuna G, Gowthami A / Int. J. Pharm. Sci. Rev. Res., 25(1), Mar – Apr 2014; Article No. 03, Pages: 16-22

(14) Protective effect of methanolic extract of Trianthema portulacastrum in atherosclerotic diet induced renal and hepatic changes in rats / A. Shyam Sunder*, A. Rama Narsimha Reddy, Y. Rajeshwar, G. Kiran, D. Krishna Prasad, B. Baburao, S. Thirumurugu and A. Karthik / Der Pharmacia Lettre, 2010: 2 (1) 540-545

(15) Trianthema portulacastrum Linn. exerts chemoprevention of 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene-induced mammary tumorigenesis in rats / Anupam Bishayee, Animesh Mandal / Mutation Research – Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis, 2014, 768, 107-118 / DOI 10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2014.01.002

(16) Ethnomedicinal studies for endemic diseases by tribes of Munchingiputtu Mandal, Visakhapatnam district, Andhra Prdesh, India / S P Padal, H Ramakrishna, R Devender / Int J. Med. Arom. Plants, Vol 2, No 3, pp 453-459, Sept 2012

(17) Phytoremediation of Soil Mercury and Cadmium by Weed Plants, Trianthema Portulocastrum L., Saccharum Spontaneum L. and Ipomoea Carnea Jacq. / K K Kavitha et al / 18 Nov 2014

• Eaten as a leafy vegetable.
• Good source of iron and calcium; an excellent source of phosphorus.
• Roots used as emmenagogue in amenorrhoea; abortive in large doses.
• Powdered roots with ginger is cathartic and irritant.
• Infusion used for constipation, jaundice, strangury, dropsy, asthma.
• Root applied to the eye to treat corneal itching, inflammation and decreasing vision.
• Herb decoction used as vermifuge and for rheumatism.
• Herb decoction used as vermifuge and for rheumatism. Also used as antidote for alcoholic poisoning.
• In Nigeria, leaves are considered diuretic; used for treatment of edema, strangury, and dropsy. Old leaves are used in treatment of gonorrhea.
• In the Gold Coast, plant applied as wound dressing or as poultice.
• In India, used for edema of the liver and spleen, uteralgia and cough. Plant is considered lithotriptic for the kidney and bladder. Also used as diuretic.
• In Andhra Pradesh, India, leaves used for snake bites and rheumatism.

Study Findings
• Hepatoprotective / Paracetamol and Thiocetamide Induced Hepatotoxicity: Study of ethanolic extract of Trianthema portulacastrum showed a significant dose-dependent protective effect against paracetamol and thiocetamide-induced hepatotoxicity in albino rats.
• Hepatoprotective / Aflatoxin Toxicity: Study of ethanolic extract of T portulacastrum showed histopathological studies that supported hepatoprotective activity against aflatoxin-induced hepatotoxicity.
• Anti-Cancer: Trianthema portulacastrum was tested in a chemical rat hepatocarcinogenesis model in male Sprague-Dawley rats. A decrease in the percentage of liver parenchyma occupied by foci seems to suggest the anticarcinogenic potential of the plant extract in DENA-induced hepatocarcinogenesis.
• Antioxidant: Study suggests the hepatoprotective effect of T portulacastrum appears to be related to the inhibition of lipid peroxidative processes and prevention of GSH depletion.
• Hypoglycemic / Antihyperglycemic / Hypolipidemic: Study of the methanol extract of Trianthema portulacastrum produced dose-dependent hypoglycemic, antihyperglycemic and hypolipidemic activity in rats, comparable with glibenclamide.
• Anti-Atherosclerotic Hepatorenal Protection: Study investigated the protective effect of a methanolic extract of T. portulacastrum plant in an atherosclerotic diet induced renal and hepatic changes in rats. Treatment produced a marked reduction in elevated serum lipid levels and protected against the glomerulosclerosis or fatty changes in hepatocytes induced by the atherosclerotic diet.
• Anthelmintic: Study evaluating the anthelmintic effects of T. portulacastrum (whole plant) and M. paradisiaca (leaves) against gastrointestinal worms of sheep showed both possess strong anthelmintic activity in vitro and in vivo, thus, justifying their traditional use in Pakistan.
• Antifertility: Study evaluated the potential antifertility activity of chloroform, alcohol, and aqueous extracts of stem, leaves, and roots of T. portulacastrum in female albino rats. Results showed significant antifertility activity, most effective with the alcoholic extract.
• Antidiabetic: Study of methanolic extract showed significant antihyperglycemic activity in STZ-induced diabetic rats which is comparable to standard reference drug Glibenclamide.
• Hypoglycemic / Hypolipidemic: Study evaluated a methanolic extract of whole plant for hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic activity in normal ad alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Results showed dose-dependent hypoglycemic, antihyperglycemic and hypolipidemic effect activity in rats comparable to glibenclamide.
• Anti-Inflammatory in Chemically Induced Rat Mammary Tumorigenesis: Study suggests TP extract prevents DMBA-induced breast neoplasia by anti-inflammatory mechanisms mediated through simultaneous and differential modulation of two interconnected molecular circuits, namely NF-kB and Nrf2 signaling pathways.
• Diuretic Activity: Study evaluated the diuretic effect and acute toxicity of crude aqueous extract of TP in a rat model. Results showed significant dose-dependent diuretic and natriuretic effects. No signs of toxicity in doses used with no lethal effects even at high dose of 3000 mg/kg.
• Gastroprotective / Antisecretory / Gastric Ulcers: Study evaluated the antiulcer activity of a methanolic extract of whole plant in pylorus ligated and aspirin induced gastric ulcer in rats. Results showed a significant dose dependent decrease in ulcer index. The antiulcer activity in pylorus ligated ulcer was attributed to antisecretory activity, while the mechanism for gastroprotection against aspirin induced ulcers was attributed to 5-lipoxygenase pathway.
• Hepatoprotective / Paracetamol and Rifampicin Toxicity / Aerial Parts: Study on aerial parts of T. portulacastrum showed significant hepatoprotective activity in rats intoxicated with paracetamol and rifampicin.
• Antilithiatic / Ethylene Glycol Induced Urolithiasis / Leaves: Study evaluated ethanol extract of leaves of T. protulacastrum and G. sylvestre on experimentally induced urolithiasis. Both extracts showed antilithiatic activity; however, EEGS showed more potent activity compared to EETP. The antilithiatic effect of T. portulacastrum was attributed probably to the presence of alkaloids, phenols, flavonoids, saponins, tannins and terpenes.
• Renal and Hepatic Protection Against Atherosclerotic Diet: Study evaluated the protective effect of a methanolic extract of Trianthema protulacastrum in atherosclerotic diet induced renal and hepatic changes in rats. METP treatment produced a marked reduction in serum lipids and protected against the glomerulosclerosis or fatty changes in the hepatocytes induced by the diet.
• Chemoprevention / DMBA-induced Mammary Tumorigenesis: Dietary administration of ethanolic extract of aerial parts of T. portulacastrum showed a striking chemopreventive effect in an experimentally induced animal model of breast cancer. The mammary tumor inhibitory effect may be partly due to intervention on abnormal cell proliferation and evasion of apoptosis.
• Phytoremediation / Cadmium:In a study of three weed species for cadmium (Cd) and mercury (Hg) phytoremediation, Ipomoea cornea and Trianthema portulacastrum accumulated Cd in higher concentrations.