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Aeschynomene aspera

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cross-section of A. aspera stem.
Bark: very thin, reddish brown layer around stem.
Wood: whitish, soft and lightweight.
Center: hollow pith tube, decayed with ageing.
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Genus: Aeschynomene
A. aspera
Binomial name
Aeschynomene aspera
  • Aeschynomene lagenaria Lour.
  • Aeschynomene surattensis Wight & Arn.
  • Aeschynomene trachyloba Miq.
  • Hedysarum lagenarium (Lour.) Roxb.

Aeschynomene aspera is a species of flowering plant in the family Fabaceae. It is also known by the names sola (Odia ସୋଲ), shola (Bengali শোলা) sola pith plant, pith plant, laugauni (Hindi),[1] Bendu-chettu (Telugu), ponguchedi (Malayalam)[2] or Netti (Tamil).[3] The low density wood of this plant is used to make hats known as pith helmets or sola topis.

It is native to Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.

It is an aquatic plant and is considered a minor weed of rice paddies across its range.[4]

Used part[edit]

From the biological viewpoint, the used part is the wood of the stem; the plant's name presumably comes from the similarity of its spongy wood to the soft pith of harder woody plants.[5]

Aeschynomene spp. wood is one of the lightest woods in the world.[6][7][8] Aeschynomene woods feel like pieces of expanded polystyrene or even lighter, and have a corky texture. They are bright white to off-white (white with a slight reddish or yellowish tinge) in color.

This corky material is used to make some traditional Indian crafts and artworks, and also decorative objects for worship, etc.

The young leaves and flowers are eaten in salads during times of famine in Cambodia, where the plant is known as snaô 'âm'bâhs (snaô="edible flowers", 'âm'bâhs="filamentous", Khmer language).[9] In local medicine in Cambodia, it is used to treat uterine bleeding.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Indian Joint Vetch". Flowers of India. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  2. ^ "Aeschynomene aspera L." Flora of Peninsular India. Archived from the original on 2020-10-26. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  3. ^ Burnell, A.; Henry Yule (1996). A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words And Phrases: (Hobson-Jobson). Routledge. ISBN 9780700703210.
  4. ^ Caton, B. P.; M. Mortimer; J. E. Hill (2004). A practical field guide to weeds of rice in Asia. International Rice Research Institute. pp. 12–13. ISBN 9789712201912.
  5. ^ "Aeschynomene indica - Useful Tropical Plants".
  6. ^ Mortensen, Andreas (2006-12-08). Concise Encyclopedia of Composite Materials. ISBN 9780080524627.
  7. ^ "Aeschynomene indica - Useful Tropical Plants".
  8. ^ "Is Balsa the lightest wood in the world?". 2013-09-13.
  9. ^ Pauline Dy Phon (2000). Plants Utilised In Cambodia/Plantes utilisées au Cambodge. Phnom Penh: Imprimerie Olympic. pp. 14, 15.