Aerva javanica (Hindi: बुई), the kapok bush or desert cotton, is a species of plant in the Amaranthaceae family. It has a native distribution incorporating much of Africa (including Madagascar), and the south-west and south of Asia.
The plant is herbaceous, multi-stemmed and soft-wooded and bears broad leaves; it often has an erect habit and grows to a height of about 1.6 metres (5 ft 3 in). In Western Australia it tends to grow in sandy soils especially along drainage lines. It flowers between January and October. Diplospory, a type of Agamospermy, occurs during the development of female gametophyte in the ovule and hence reduction division does not take place in the Megaspore mother cell. The diploid egg is unfertilized and forms the embryo. Hence daughter plants are exactly clones of the mother.
This herb is deep rooted, and is used as soil binder in desert reclamation. It is used for fuel and for fodder for goats. In traditional medicine this plant has many uses. It is used externally to remove swelling, relieve inflammation and promote healing of wounds and ulcers. The flowers and roots are used to alleviate kidney problems and rheumatism and the seeds are believed to cure headaches. A gargle is made from the plant to treat toothache.
The plant has naturalised in northern regions of Australia, as an alien introduction, and is cultivated and utilised by the indigenous peoples. The seedheads are harvested for their soft fibres, rubbed between the palms and used as kapok for pillows. It is called Bilhangga in the languages of the Yindjibarndi and Ngarluma people, the English term is Kapok Bush.
- Aerva javanica at Tropicos
- Aerva javanica information from NPGS/GRIN
- "Aerva javanica (Burm.f.) Schult.". FloraBase. Department of Environment and Conservation, Government of Western Australia.
- L R Burdak (1982): Recent advances in desert afforestation, Dehradun, p. 66
- Muhammad Qasim Samejo, Shahabuddin Memon, Muhammad Iqbal Bhanger, Khalid Mohammed Khan (2011). "Chemical Compositions of the Essential oil of Aerva javanica Leaves and Stems". Pak. J. Anal. Environ. Chem 13 (1): 48–52. ISSN 1996-918X.
- Burndud (1990). Wanggalili; Yinjibarndi and Ngarluma Plants. Juluwarlu Aboriginal Corporation. p. 17.
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