Until about 1980, taxonomists placed a number of species, including this one, under Phyllanthus niruri L. Where the name Phyllanthus niruri has been applied in older literature to African or Asian specimens, usually Phyllanthus amarus is intended, but sometimes also Phyllanthus debilis, Phyllanthus fraternus, Phyllanthus maderaspatensis or Phyllanthus rotundifolius. Specimens of true Phyllanthus niruri have actually never been confirmed from outside the Americas[
Diasperus gracilis (Roxb.) Kuntze
Diasperus gueinzii (Müll.Arg.) Kuntze
Diasperus maderaspatensis (L.) Kuntze
Nellica maderaspatana Raf.
Phyllanthus andrachnoides Willd.
Phyllanthus arabicus Hochst. ex Steud.
Phyllanthus brachypodus F.Muell. ex Benth.
Phyllanthus cuneatus Willd.
Phyllanthus gracilis Roxb.
Phyllanthus gueinzii Müll.Arg.
Phyllanthus javanicus Poir. ex Spreng.
Phyllanthus longifolius Sond.
Phyllanthus magudensis Jean F.Brunel
Phyllanthus obcordatus Willd.
Phyllanthus stipulaceus Bojer
Phyllanthus thonningii Schumach. & Thonn.
Phyllanthus vaccinioides Klotzsch
Phyllanthus venosus Hochst. ex A.Rich.
Phyllanthus maderaspatensis is an erect to spreading, unbranched to much-branched, annual to perennial plant with stems that can become more or less woody and persist for more than a year. It can grow up to 90cm tall, occasionally to 120cm[
The plants are harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine. They are traded locally in market places and are also sold for the commercial production of pharmaceutical products[
The plant is considered poisonous in some areas[
]. It causes pain in the stomach[
Widespread in Africa, south of the Sahara, through Arabia, the Indian Ocean, tropical Asia to Australia.
Deciduous woodland, wooded savannah and grassland, on beaches and dunes, and also along streams and ponds, in cultivated and disturbed localities, at elevations from sea-level up to 1,400 metres[
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It grows on a wide variety of soils, usually on heavy clay and alluvial soils of low-altitude river valleys, on river banks and in flood plains[
Outside tropical Africa, the plant is often considered a weed. It shows a marked preference for calcareous sites in humid tropical areas[
Mature plants are fast growing and require little or no management once established[
Plants may flower 3 months after germination of the seed[
The plant sap and leaf decoction are credited with emetic and purgative activities[
]. Plant sap is used as nose drops to treat toothache[
Ground leaves are rubbed on the skin with lemon juice as treatment for rheumatism[
The seeds are carminative, diuretic and laxative[
The plant is used as an aphrodisiac[
]. The plant is widely used in India to treat headache, bronchitis, earache and ophthalmia[
]. Powder from dried plant material mixed with milk is drunk to treat jaundice[
The whole plant is pounded and boiled, then the solution used for washing areas of the body affected by scabies[
A root decoction is taken to cure constipation, diarrhoea, lack of appetite, intestinal pain, menstrual problems, gastrointestinal disorders, testicular swelling, chest complaints and snakebites[
]. Gastrointestinal trouble in infants is treated by giving them a decoction of the root, combined with the root of Chamaecrista mimosoides[
Extracts of the above-ground parts were found to contain resins, steroids, triterpenoids, alkaloids, phenolic compounds, tannins and saponins, but no glycosides[
The plant also contains the lignans phyllanthin and hypophyllantin, which are responsible for hepatoprotective activity, but in low concentrations[
Butanol, ethanol and water extracts of the whole plant were found to bind hepatitis B virus and E antigens. The n-hexane extract was found to have pronounced hepatoprotective activity and showed antioxidant activity and stimulation of bile production. The antioxidant activity is attributed to the phenolic compounds[
The plant has shown antibacterial and antifungal activities[
Many of the medicinal uses of the plant are related to the astringent action of tannins[
]. Though short-term effects may be beneficial, the frequent systemic use of tannins might be dangerous, because of their antinutrient effects[
Smoke from the burning plants is used to kill caterpillars boring into maize cobs[
A clear deep yellow oil can be extracted from the seeds; it contains myristic, palmitic, stearic, oleic and linolenic acids and beta-sitosterol. The defatted seed cake contains a fibrous mucilage which can be hydrolyzed to galactose, arabinose, rhamnose and aldobionic acid[
]. No uses are recorded.
Seeds of Phyllanthus maderaspatensis require light to germinate. Germination rates increase linearly with temperature from 15–35°C and decline from 36°C. Below 15°C and above 40°C, germination is very poor. Germination is poor under moisture stress. Phyllanthus maderaspatensis is generally grown from seed, but vegetative propagation by budding, grafting, cutting and root sprouting is possible[