Boerhavia diffusa

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Boerhavia diffusa
Boerhaavia diffusa.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Nyctaginaceae
Genus: Boerhavia
Species: B. diffusa
Binomial name
Boerhavia diffusa
L. nom. cons.[1]

Boerhavia diffusa is a species of flowering plant in the four o'clock family which is commonly known as punarnava (meaning that which rejuvenates or renews the body in Ayurveda),[2] red spiderling,[1] spreading hogweed,[1] or tarvine.[1] It is taken in herbal medicine for pain relief and other uses. The leaves of B. diffusa are often used as a green vegetable in many parts of India.


A small bird with tiny sticky fruit stuck below the eye
Fruit of B. diffusa stuck to face of juvenile sooty tern

Boerhavia diffusa is widely dispersed, occurring throughout India, the Pacific, and southern United States. This wide range is explained by its small fruit, which are very sticky and grow a few inches off the ground, ideally placed to latch on to small migratory birds as they walk by.[3]


A true and accurate accounting of the native range of Boerhavia diffusa has not been determined. However, it is very widespread, and has become naturalized in many places. It is believed[1] to be a native plant to the following places:

  • Africa

Botswana; Egypt; Ghana; Kenya; Liberia; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; Nigeria; Rwanda; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa (Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape provinces); Swaziland; Tanzania; Togo; Uganda; Zambia; and Zimbabwe.

  • Asia

Burma; Cambodia; China (Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces) India;Bangladesh; Indonesia; Japan (Ryukyu Islands); Laos; Malaysia; Nepal; the Philippines; southern Taiwan; Thailand; and Vietnam. Also, on the Arabian Peninsula: Oman; Saudi Arabia; and the United Arab Emirates; and Yemen (Socotra).

  • North America

Mexico; and the U.S. (in the states of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina).

  • Caribbean

Anguilla; the Bahamas; the Cayman Islands; Cuba; Dominica; Grenada; Hispanola (Dominican Republic and Haiti); Jamaica; Montserrat; the Netherlands Antilles (Saba); Puerto Rico; Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; and both the British and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

  • South America

Argentina; Belize; Bolivia; Chile; Costa Rica; Ecuador; French Guiana; Guatemala; Guyana; Nicaragua; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Suriname; Uruguay; and Venezuela.

  • South Pacific

Fiji; and New Caledonia.

Economic importance[edit]

B. diffusa is widely used as a green leafy vegetable in many Asian and African countries. B. diffusa can be used as a fodder for livestock, but has the potential for contaminating seed stocks, and may harbor pathogens for certain crops, such as eggplants.[1]

Medical uses[edit]

B. diffusa is believed to improve and protect eyesight.[citation needed] B. diffusa has diuretic properties[4] and is used by diabetics to lower blood sugar.[5] B. diffusa has shown antibacterial activity, mainly against Gram-negative bacteria.[6] Extracts of B. diffusa leaves have shown antioxidant and hepatoprotective properties in pharmacological models.[7] B. diffusa is a source of antioxidants, and may be effective against arsenic trioxide-induced cardiotoxicity.[8][9] Experimental studies showed that B. diffusa also possess cardioprotective properties.[8][10][non-primary source needed]


Boeravinones G and H are two rotenoids isolated from B. diffusa.[11] A quinolone alkaloid, lunamarine, isolated from B. diffusa[12] has shown some in vitro anticancer,[13] antiestrogenic,[14] immunomodulatory,[15] and anti-amoebic activity (particularly against Entamoeba histolytica).[16] The plant contains a protein called BDP-30, presumably a ribosome-inactivating protein [17]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Boerhavia diffusa was originally described and published in Species Plantarum 1:3. 1753. GRIN (December 21, 2010). "Boerhavia diffusa information from NPGS/GRIN". Taxonomy for Plants. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland: USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Retrieved March 14, 2013. nom. cons. … exact native range obscure 
  2. ^ Bhowmik, Debjit, K. P. Sampath Kumar, Shweta Srivastava, Shravan Paswan, Amit Sankar, and Dutta Dutta. "Traditional Indian Herbs: Punarnava and Its Medicinal Importance." Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry 1.1 (2012): 52-57. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.
  3. ^ Sherwin Carlquist (2008). "Dispersal to Islands". Plant Discorveries : Sherwin Carlquist. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  4. ^ Jarald E., Nalwaya N., Sheeja E., Ahmad S., Jamalludin S. (2010). "Comparative study on diuretic activity of few medicinal plants in individual form and in combination form". Indian Drugs 47 (3): 20–24. 
  5. ^ Chude, MA; Orisakwe, OE; Afonne, OJ; Gamaniel, KS; Vongtau, OH; Obi, E (2001). "Hypoglycaemic effect of the aqueous extract of Boerhavia diffusa leaves". Indian Journal of Pharmacology 33 (3): 215–216. 
  6. ^ Wagh S., Vidhale N.N. (2010). "Antimicrobial efficacy of Boerhaavia diffusa against some human pathogenic bacteria and fungi". Biosciences Biotechnology Research Asia 7 (1): 267–272. 
  7. ^ Olaleye M.T., Akinmoladun A.C., Ogunboye A.A., Akindahunsi A.A. (2010). "Antioxidant activity and hepatoprotective property of leaf extracts of Boerhaavia diffusa L. against acetaminophen-induced liver damage in rats". Food and Chemical Toxicology 48 (8–9): 2200–2205. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2010.05.047. 
  8. ^ a b A. Prathapan, M.K Singh, S.S Anusree, D.R Sobankumar, A. Sundaresan & K.G Raghu (2011). "Antiperoxidative, free radical scavenging and metal chelating activities of Boerhaavia diffusa L". Journal of Food Biochemistry 35 (5): 1548–1554. doi:10.1111/j.1745-4514.2010.00477.x. 
  9. ^ V.P Vineetha, A. Prathapan, R.S Soumya &K.G Raghu (2012). "Arsenic Trioxide Toxicity in H9c2 Myoblasts-Damage to Cell Organelles and Possible Amelioration with Boerhavia diffusa". Cardiovascular Toxicology 13 (2): 123–37. doi:10.1007/s12012-012-9191-x. PMID 23161055. 
  10. ^ Prathapan, A; Vineetha, VP; Abhilash, PA; Raghu, KG (2013). "Boerhaavia diffusa L. Attenuates angiotensin II-induced hypertrophy in H9c2 cardiac myoblast cells via modulating oxidative stress and down-regulating NF-κβ and transforming growth factor β1". The British journal of nutrition 110 (7): 1201–10. doi:10.1017/S0007114513000561. PMID 23591029. 
  11. ^ Ahmed-Belkacem, A; MacAlou, S; Borrelli, F; Capasso, R; Fattorusso, E; Taglialatela-Scafati, O; Di Pietro, A (2007). "Nonprenylated rotenoids, a new class of potent breast cancer resistance protein inhibitors". Journal of medicinal chemistry 50 (8): 1933–8. doi:10.1021/jm061450q. PMID 17341062. 
  12. ^ "Punarnavine". Comparative Toxicogenomics Database. Salisbury Cove, Maine: Mount Desert Island Biological Lab. March 6, 2013. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  13. ^ Manu K.A., Kuttan G. (2009). "Punarnavine induces apoptosis in B16F-10 melanoma cells by inhibiting NF-kappaB signaling". Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention 10 (6): 1031–1037. PMID 20192578. 
  14. ^ Sreeja S., Sreeja S. (2009). "An in vitro study on antiproliferative and antiestrogenic effects of Boerhaavia diffusa L. extracts". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 126 (2): 221–225. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2009.08.041. PMID 19723573. 
  15. ^ Manu K.A., Kuttan G. (2009). "Immunomodulatory activities of Punarnavine, an alkaloid from Boerhaavia diffusa". Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology 31 (3): 377–387. doi:10.1080/08923970802702036. PMID 19555203. 
  16. ^ Sohni YR., Kaimal P., Bhatt RM. (Jan 1995). "The antiamoebic effect of a crude drug formulation of herbal extracts against Entamoeba histolytica in vitro and in vivo". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 45 (1): 43–52. doi:10.1016/0378-8741(94)01194-5. 


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