Areca catechu L.



Betel Nut

Areca catechu_ Malayalam origin refers to the word aṭaykka, kacu; catechu_ kat′e-shoo means a substance used in tanning, dyeing and as an astringent

Native Range: Philippines. Cultivated elsewhere

Habitat: Occurs as an invader in the forest gaps and edges, watercourses, floodplains and swamps. Capable of invading undisturbed forest

Phytochemicals: Arecaidine, Arecatannin, Arecolidine, Arecoline, Gallic Acid, Guvacine, Guvacoline, Homoarecoline, &Is oguvacine.

Properties: Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-Melanogenisis, Hypoglycemic, Antihypertensive, Vascular-relaxation, Antidepressant, Wound healing, Anticonvulsant & Antimicrobial

Traditional Medicine: Used in the treatment leucoderma, leprosy, obesity, and against intestinal tapeworms

Ethnobotany: Nuts have long tradition in use of the custom, or ritual of several tribes in Southeast Asia which dates back thousands of years. Used as a symbol of honoring individuals with areca nut along with betel leaf in Tamil culture. Nut wrapped in betel leaf and chewed along with little calcium hydroxide as masticator thoughout Southeast Asian countries.

Economy: Cultivated as a commercial crop for its nuts, planted as an ornamental. Source of dye, and skin aging cosmetics. Nuts are highly traded in the markets for its use as masticatory.

A species of religious, social and cultural importance.


Scoparia dulcis L.



Sweet Broom

Scoparia _ refers to ‘broom’ like appearance; dulcis _ means sweet in nature

Native Range: Tropical & Subtropical America

Habitat: Occurs as a weed throughout the plains and capable of tolerating the drought.

Phytochemicals: Scopadulcic acids A and B, Scopadiol, Scopadulciol, Scopadulin, Scoparic acids A – C, Betulinic acid, Acacetin, Amyrin, Apigenin, Benzoxazin, Benzoxazolin, Benzoxazolinone, Cirsimarin, Cirsitakaoside, Coixol, Coumaric acid, Cynaroside, Daucosterol, Dulcinol, Dulcioic Acid, Gentisic acid, Glutinol, Hymenoxin, Linarin, Luteolin, Scoparinol, Scutellarein, Scutellarin, Sitosterol, Stigmasterol, Taraxerol, Vicenin, & Vitexin

Properties: Antiulcer, Antibacterial, Antifungal, Cytotoxic, Antimicrobial, Antianaemic, Analgesic, Antidiabetic, Hyperlipidaemia, & Hepatoprotective

Traditional Medicine: Used in the treatment of kidney and renal troubles, jaundice, stomach problems, & skin disease

A common weed of ethnomedicinal importance !


Calotropis gigantea (L.) W.T.Aiton



Crown Flower, Giant calotrope

Calotropis_Greek derivation refers to ‘beautiful’ and ‘keel of a boat’ appearance of scales in the flowers; gigantea _ means giant in appearance

Native Range: Southern China to Tropical Asia

Habitat: Occurs in the moist, rich organic fertile soils, full sun to light shade and capable of tolerant of drought for short time period

Phytochemicals: Calotropin, Uscharin, Calotoxin, & Calactin

Properties: Antimicrobial, Anticancer, Antioxidant, Antipyretic, Cytotoxicity & Insecticidal

Traditional Medicine: Used in the treatment of skin, digestive, respiratory, circulatory and neurological disorders, elephantiasis, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Milky latex used against arthritis, cancer, and also as an antidote for snake bite.

Toxicity: Plant contains cardiac glycosides, calcium oxalate and Calotropin compound could cause adverse effects during accidental ingestion.

Host plant for several insects and butterflies including the Monarch !


Crinum asiaticum L.



Giant Crinum Lily_Poison Bulb_Spider Lily

Crinum_ Greek derivation refers to White lily; asiaticum _ means geographical distribution in the Asia

Native Range: Tropical & Subtropical Asia to Southern West Pacific.

Habitat: Occurs in the moist, rich organic fertile soils, full sun to light shade and capable of tolerant of drought for short time period

Phytochemicals: Lycorine, Tazettine, Flavonoid, Terpene, Polyphenol, Glycoside, Saponin, Phenolic & Liphophilic Compounds

Properties: Antimicrobial, Cytotoxic, Antioxidant

Traditional Medicine: numbness, falls and bruises, fractures, venomous snake bite

Toxicity: Lycorine and Tazettine alkaloids could cause nervous system paralysis even during accidental ingestion.

Economy: Cultivated as an ornamental

Highly poisonous due to the presence of toxic Lycorine alkaloids!


Zinnia elegans Jacq.



Purple Prince Zinnia

Native Range: Mexico to Central America

Habitat: Occurs in rich humus soil. Often cultivated for beds, borders, and pots

Phytochemicals: Chlorogenic acids, Apigenin, Kaempferol, Quercetin glycosides, Esculetin, Umbelliferone, Ziniolide, Germacren D, & Zinaflorin III

Properties: Antioxidant, Hepatoprotective, Cytotoxic, Antibacterial, Antifungal & Insecticidal

Economy: Cultivated as an Ornamental. Commonly used in flower arrangements


Aerva lanata (L.) Juss. ex Schult.



Mountain knotgrass

Native Range: Africa to Tropical Asia.

Habitat: Occurs as a common weed in fields, roadsides and waste places

Phytochemicals: Ervine, Methylervine, Ervoside, Aervine, Methylaervine, Aervoside, Ervolanine, And Aervolanine, Kaempferol, Quercetin, Isorhamnetin, Persinol, Persinosides A & B

Properties: Anti-Microbial, Antioxidant, Antidiabetic, Hypoglycemic, Antiparasitic, Hepoprotective, Anti-Urolithiasis, Antiasthmatic, & Antifertility

Traditional Medicine: Used in the treatment of snakebites, kidney stones, jaundice

Economy: Highly demanded medicinal plant for urinary calculi.

Used as a talisman

One of the sacred flowers of Dasapushpam in Kerala


Paramollugo nudicaulis (Lam.) Thulin


Native Range: Africa to Sinai, Southern West Arabian Peninsula, Afghanistan to China

Habitat: Occurs commonly in the moist localities

Pytochemicals: Alkaloids, steroids, flavonoids

Properties: Antioxidant, antibacterial, & hepatoprotective 

Traditional Medicine: Used in the treatment of whooping cough, cold, fever, inflammation, urinary disorders, kidney disorders and jaundice in India

A common hepatoprotective plant!


Acalypha wilkesiana Müll. Arg.


Copper Leaf

Acalypha _ refers to nettle-like leaves; wilkesiana_ named to honor 18th century naval Admiral Charles Wilkes who explored Southern Pacific

Native Range: Bismarck Archipelago to Southern West Pacific.

Habitat: Grows well in open sun and well drained soil. Often planted as an ornamental plant.

Pytochemicals: Alkaloids, cardiac glycosides, flavonoids, phytosteroids, saponnins, steroids, tannins, & triterpenes

Properties: Anti-Inflammatory, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-tumor, anti-mutagenic, anti-carcinogenic, anti-bacterial, & anti-viral

Ethnobotany: Leaf ointment used to treat superficial mycoses in Nigeria. Also, used in the

treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, hypertension, malaria and fungal skin infection including Tinea corporis and Tinea pedis in Southern Nigeria.

Economy: Cultivated as an ornamental.

A striking foliage plant in the public gardens!


Heliotropium indicum L.


தேள் கொடுக்கி

Indian heliotrope

Heliotropium _Greek derivation ‘Helios’ refers to Sun ‘tropium’ means to turn

Native Range: Peru to Brazil and Northern Argentina.

Habitat: Occurs as weed in waste places, fallow fields and roadsides

Pytochemicals: Acetyl indicine, cynoglossine, echinitine, heleurine, helindicine, heliotrine, indicine, indicine-n-oxide, indicinine, lasiocarpine, lupeol, lycopsamine, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, rapone, retronecine & supinine.

Properties: Analgesic, anti-cataract, anti-fertility, anti-inflammatory, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-microbial, antinociceptive, antiplasmodial, antiproliferative, antituberculosis, anti-tuberculosis, anti-tumor, antitumour, gastroprotective, immunostimulant, & wound healing.

Ethnobotany: Leaf decoction is used for thrush and poultices used for herpes and rheumatism in Indonesia and for wound healing in Thailand. In Taiwan the plant used as a remedy for sore throat and lung diseases. Plant is used for the treatment of inflammation especially inflamed joints fevers and ulcers in Nigeria.

A common plant used as a remedy for insect bites!


Heliconia psittacorum L.f.



Parakeet Flower

Heliconia_Greek derivation refers to large-leaved tropical American plant; psittacorum_ ‘psittacus’ means a parrot in Latin

Native Range: Panama to Southern Tropical America.

Habitat: Grows well in rich humic soil. Cultivated as an ornamental

Pytochemicals: Phenolic compounds, terpenoides, alkaloids and coumarins

Properties: Anti-ophidian, antioxidant, Analgesic

Animal Interaction: Attracts Hummingbirds by producing sweet nectar

Economy: Widely cultivated and highly preferred ornamental plant. Exotic flowers cynosure of all eyes

An anti-ophidian plant suitable for home garden!

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