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Acmella oleracea

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Acmella oleracea
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Acmella
A. oleracea
Binomial name
Acmella oleracea
  • Spilanthes oleracea L.
  • Spilanthes acmella (L.) Murray not (L.) L.
  • Pyrethrum spilanthus Medik.
  • Cotula pyrethraria L.
  • Bidens fixa Hook.f.
  • Bidens fervida Lam.
  • Anacyclus pyrethraria (L.) Spreng.
  • Spilanthes radicans Schrad. ex DC.
  • Bidens fusca Lam.
  • Bidens oleracea (L.) Cav. ex Steud.
  • Bidens acmelloides Berg.
  • Spilanthes oleracea var. fusca (Lam.) DC.
  • Spilanthes fusca hort.par. ex Lam.
  • Spilanthes acmella var. oleracea (L.) C.B.Clarke ex Hook.f.

Acmella oleracea is a species of flowering herb in the family Asteraceae. Common names include toothache plant, Szechuan buttons,[2] paracress, jambu, [3] buzz buttons,[4] tingflowers and electric daisy.[5] Its native distribution is unclear, but it is likely derived from a Brazilian Acmella species.[6] A small, erect plant, it grows quickly and bears gold and red inflorescences. It is frost-sensitive but perennial in warmer climates.

Its specific epithet oleracea means "vegetable/herbal" in Latin and is a form of holeraceus (oleraceus).[7][8]

Culinary uses[edit]

For culinary purposes, small amounts of shredded fresh leaves are said to add a unique flavour to salads. Cooked leaves lose their strong flavour and may be used as leafy greens. In Madagascar, the plant is known as brèdes mafane, and is a main ingredient in the national dish of the island, called Romazava. Both fresh and cooked leaves are used in dishes such as stews like Tacacá in northern Brazil, especially in the state of Pará. They are combined with chilis and garlic to add flavor and vitamins to other foods.[9]

The flower bud has a grassy taste followed by a strong tingling or numbing sensation and often excessive salivation, with a cooling sensation in the throat.[9] The buds are known as "buzz buttons", "Sichuan buttons", "sansho buttons", and "electric buttons".[10] In India, they are used as flavoring in chewing tobacco.[10]

Jambu oil

A concentrated extract of the plant, sometimes called jambu oil or jambu extract, is used as a flavoring agent in foods, chewing gum, and chewing tobacco.[11][12][13][14] The oil is traditionally extracted from all parts of the plant.[11] EFSA and JECFA reviewed a feeding study in rats and both authorities recognized that the no adverse effect level for spilanthol was 572 mg/kg b.w./day, yielding a safe dose of spilanthol of 1.9 mg/kg b.w./day, or 133.5 mg/70-kg-male/day, 111 mg/58-kg-female/day, or 38 mg/20-kg-child/day.[13][14]

Jambu extract as a flavoring agent is described as having a citrus, herbal, tropical or musty odor, and its taste can be described as pungent, cooling, tingling, numbing, or effervescent. Spilanthol, the major constituent of jambu extract, is responsible for the perception of a mouth-watering flavor sensation, as well as the ability to promote salivation as a sialogogue, perhaps through its astringent action or its pungent taste.[15][16]


This plant prefers well-drained, black (high organic content) soil. If starting outdoors, the seeds should not be exposed to cold weather, so start after last frost. Seeds need direct sunlight to germinate, so should not be buried.[17]

Traditional medicine[edit]

A decoction or infusion of the leaves and flowers has been used as a folk remedy.[16]

Active chemicals[edit]

The most important taste-active molecules present are fatty acid amides such as spilanthol, which is responsible for the trigeminal and saliva-inducing effects of the plant.[18] It also contains stigmasteryl-3-O-b-D-glucopyranoside and a number of triterpenes. The isolation and total synthesis of the active ingredients have been reported.[19]

Biological pest control[edit]

Extracts were bioassayed against yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and corn earworm moth (Helicoverpa zea) larvae. The spilanthol proved effective at killing mosquitoes, with a 24-hour LD100 of 12.5 μg/mL, and 50% mortality at 6.25 μg/mL. The mixture of spilanthol isomers produced a 66% weight reduction of corn earworm larvae at 250 μg/mL after 6 days.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Acmella oleracea (L.) R.K.Jansen". Global Compositae Database (GCD).
  2. ^ "Szechuan Button". Atlas Obscura.
  3. ^ da Silva, Suelem Paixão; Fernandes, José Augusto Lacerda; Santos, Alberdan Silva; Ferreira, Nelson Rosa (2023-04-07). "Jambu Flower Extract (Acmella oleracea) Increases the Antioxidant Potential of Beer with a Reduced Alcohol Content". Plants. 12 (8). MDPI AG: 1581. doi:10.3390/plants12081581. ISSN 2223-7747. PMC 10143130. PMID 37111805.
  4. ^ Bradt, Hilary; Austin, Daniel (2017). Madagascar. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 106. ISBN 9781784770488.
  5. ^ Wong, James (September 2012). James Wong's Homegrown Revolution. W&N. p. 197. ISBN 978-0297867128.
  6. ^ Bosch, C.H. (2004). "Acmella oleracea (L.) R.K.Jansen". PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l'Afrique tropicale). Archived from the original on 2007-09-27.
  7. ^ Parker, Peter (2018). A Little Book of Latin for Gardeners. Little Brown Book Group. p. 328. ISBN 978-1-4087-0615-2. oleraceus, holeraceus = relating to vegetables or kitchen garden
  8. ^ Whitney, William Dwight (1899). The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia. Century Co. p. 2856. L. holeraceus, prop. oleraceus, herb-like, holus, prop. olus (oler-), herbs, vegetables
  9. ^ a b Benwick, Bonnie S. (2007-10-03). "Like a Taste That Tingles? Then This Bud's for You". Washington Post.
  10. ^ a b "It's Shocking, But You Eat It". All Things Considered. NPR. 2009-02-28.
  11. ^ a b Burdock, George A. (2005). Fenaroli's Handbook of Flavor Ingredients (5th ed.). CRC Press. p. 983. ISBN 0849330343.
  12. ^ "Flavors and Extracts Manufacturers of the United States. Safety Assessment of Jambu Oleoresin, Washington, D.C.". FEMA: 12.
  13. ^ a b Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food and Additives (2007). "Evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants. Flavoring Agents: Aliphatic and Aromatic Amines and Amides". World Health Organization Technical Report Series. 65 (947): 1–225. PMID 18551832.
  14. ^ a b "Scientific Opinion on Flavouring Group Evaluation 303 (FGE.303): Spilanthol from chemical group 30". EFSA Journal. 9 (3): 1995. March 2011. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2011.1995.
  15. ^ Tiwari, KL; SK Jadhav; V. Joshi (November 2011). "An updated review on medicinal herb genus Spilanthes". Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine. 11. 9 (11): 1170–1178. doi:10.3736/jcim20111103. PMID 22088581.
  16. ^ a b Chopra, R.N.; Nayar, S.L.; Chopra, I.C. (1956). Glossary of Medicinal Plants. New Delhi, India: Council of Scientific & Industrial Research.
  17. ^ "Spilanthes acmella Seeds". Archived from the original on 2014-03-28. Retrieved 2014-03-28.
  18. ^ a b Ramsewak, R. S.; et al. (1999). "Bioactive N-isobutylamides from the flower buds of Spilanthes acmella". Phytochemistry. 51 (6): 729–32. Bibcode:1999PChem..51..729R. doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(99)00101-6. PMID 10389272.
  19. ^ Ley, J. P.; et al. (2006). "Isolation and synthesis of acmellonate, a new unsaturated long chain 2-ketol ester from Spilanthes acmella". Nat. Prod. Res. 20 (9): 798–804. doi:10.1080/14786410500246733. PMID 16753916. S2CID 22470004.

External links[edit]