LEARN ABOUT 'ALTERNANTHERA SESSILIS' FAMILY - 'AMARANTHACEAE'

ABOUT 'ALTERNANTHERA SESSILIS' PLANT


FAMILY:- AMARANTHACEAE

BOTANICAL NAME: Alternanthera sessilis
 

VERNACULAR NAMES :

SINHALA : Mucunuwenna.  

TAMIL : Pounanganni, Ponnankani.



DESCRIPTION:

A prostrate herb with numerous, sub-quadrangular, glabrous stem, 15-60 cm long, often rooting at nodes; internodes 1.5-7 cm long, younger ones with two opposite lines of hairs, often purplish red.
 

LEAVES:- Simple, opposite, 1.5-5 cm long 0.7-1.7 cm broad.
 

FLOWERS:- White, regular, bisexual in densely crowded, small, axillary heads, sometimes slightly spicate, bracts membranous, 0.7 mm long, 0.4 mm broad, ovate, acute, (period- all the year round).
 

FRUITS:- Flat, kidney-shaped 2 mm long and as broad .enclosed in the persistent perianth segments. Seeds, 1.2 mm diameter, glabrous and shining (Jayaweera, 1981).

DISTRIBUTION :
 

Grows in humid places, throughout the warmer parts of India, Sri Lanka and other tropical countries Dassanayake and Fosberg, 1980). In Sri Lanka this plant is very common growing in wet places especially around tanks and ponds (Jayaweera, 1981).
 
EDIBLE PARTS :Whole plant.
FOOD USE: This plant is a popular pot herb. Frequently eaten as a vegetable.

NUTRITIONAL AND THERAPEUTIC VALUE:

Moisture - 77.4 g, Energy - 72 kcal, Protein -5.0 g, Fat -0.7 g, Carbohydrate - 11.6 g, Calcium - 510 mg, Phosphorus - 60 mg, Iron-16.7 mg, Vitamin - A-965 mg, Riboflavin-140 mg, Thiamin -1.2 mg, Vitamin C-17.0 mg. (Perera et. al, 1979)

The vegetative and reproductive parts of this plant are said to contain traces of hydrocyanic acid. It is a cholagogue laxative and is useful for chronic congestion of the liver, biliousness and dyspepsia associated with sluggish liver. Owing to its diuretic and diluent properties, it may be used with advantage in acute and chronic pyelitis, cystitis, gonorrhoea and strangury. It is also said to increase the flow of milk in nursing mothers. The expressed juice of the plant is given with cow ghee for the treatment of snake bite. In West Tropical Africa it is used as a poultice for boils, abortifacient and remedy for indigestion, while in Madagascar it is often used as a galactagogue (Jayaweera, 1981).

CULTIVATION:

Areas for cultivation - Wet zone

Planting season - Throughout the year. However, for good crop establishment, plant during the rainy season.
 

Land preparation - The land has to be worked by mammoty in order to make a seed bed with fine condition.
 

Planting material - Steam by cuttings.
 

Planting and space - 15 cm long stem cuttings are 

planted in beds. Space between two plants is 30 cm and it can be grown as a pot herb.
 

Irrigation - Normally stem cuttings are planted in rainy season, therefore special irrigation is not necessary. In dry periods watering increases the productivity.
 

Fertilizer - Normally it is grown without fertilizer, but application of organic matter will increase the yield.
 

Pests /Diseases - Insects damage the leaves.
Time of harvesting - Harvesting begins about 2 months after planting.
 

Harvesting - Plants are cut to above two leaves from the bottom

STORAGE:

In wet places the harvest can be stored for 2-4 days.