Asystasia gangetica (L.) T.Anderson

Last updated: 27 Jun 2016

Scientific Name

Asystasia gangetica (L.) T.Anderson


Asystasia acuminata Klotzsch, Asystasia bojeriana Nees, Asystasia calycina Nees, Asystasia coromandeliana Nees, Asystasia coromandeliana Burkill & C.B. Clarke, Asystasia intrusa (Forssk.) Blume, Asystasia plumbaginea Nees, Asystasia quarterna Nees, Asystasia violacea Dalzell, Dyschoriste biloba Hochst., Justicia gangetica L. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Rumput bunga putih, rumput hantu, rumput nyonya [2][3]
English Chinese violet, coromandel, Ganges river asystasia [3], tropical primrose [4], Senegal tea tree, orange hawkweed [5]
China Kaw kua chai [3]
India Corri, lavana-valli, maithaala kaddi, medday keerai, mitikirai, mukka mungera, pacconti, paralekkam, poda beera, tappet, venna kattethige, etc [3]
Thailand Baya, yaya [2]
Philippines Asistasiya (Tagalog); bulak-bulak (Subanun) [2]; zamboangenita [3]
Kenya Atipa, burutula, enkosida, fuchwe, future, futswe, gosida, mtikini, tala-kushe, talakusha, talakushe, thalakushe, tsalakushe, turkwot, vongonya [3]
Congo Ondo, ondoko [3]
Nigeria Lobiri, inana [5]
Uganda Lenzokobi, odipaikong [6]
France Herba le rail, mange-tout, herba pistache, pistache marron [4]
Portugal Asistasia branca [4]
Sweden Fuchwe, mtikini, kichwamangwo [4].

Geographical Distributions

Asystasia gange­tica is indigenous in tropical Africa and Asia, but has been distributed pantropically. In Southeast Asia, it is recorded from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. [2]

Botanical Description

A. gange­tica  is a member of the Acanthaceae family. It is an erect, ascending or clambering herb that can grow up to 0.3-1.25 m and it is with quadrangular pilose stem. [2]

The leaf is ovate to deltoid, measuring 3-7.5 cm x 1.5-5 cm, with obtuse to truncate base, acuminate at apex, hairless to sparingly hairy especially on the veins and with numerous bar-like cystoliths that are visible on the upper surface. The petiole is 1-3 cm long. [2]

The inflorescences are in terminal racemes, measure up to 16 cm long and with flowers directed to one side only. The flowers are on short pedicels, white to yellow, and white with purplish throat or violet. The sepal is 5-lobed. The lobes are lance-shaped and measure 5-7 mm long. The petal is funnel-formed, measures up to 4 cm long and with 5 semiorbicu­lar lobes about 1 cm wide. There are 4 stamens and 2-lobed stigma. [2]

The fruit is an oblongoid capsule and measures up to 13 mm x 2 mm. [2]

There are 2-4 seeds which are ovoid, flat and measuring about 1 mm x 0.75 mm. [2]


A. gange­tica is found along roadsides and riverbanks, in semi-waterlogged areas as well as well-drained cultivated areas. In 1976, it became very widespread in oil palm plantations in Penin­sular Malaysia and by 1983, it had infested large tracts of pineapple lands on peat soils in the south­eastern region of Johore. It is a shade-loving plant and optimum photosynthesis occurs between ⅓ to ½ full sunlight. With no weeding, its proportion in the undergrowth of young oil palm plantation increased in a period of 2 years from 25 % to 84 %. It grows, even though slowly, under a closed canopy of oil palm with less than 10% full sunlight. Howev­er, in areas with a dry season of 4 months or more, it may not survive. It thrives on sedentary soils, coastal alluvium, peat soils with 85 % organic mat­ter and pH(H20) 3.5-4.5, sandy loams and clays. [2]

Chemical Constituent

A. gange­tica  leaf extracts (ethylacetate, hexane and methanol) has been reported to contain carbohydrates, proteins, alkaloids, steroidal alglycones, saponins, flavonoids, reducing sugars and triterpenoids. [7]

Plant Part Used

Roots, leaves and flowers. [5][8]

Traditional Use

A. gangetica is used as food and also as medicine in many communities of the tropical. In Malaysia, the young leaves and shoots are cooked as vegetable. In Kenya and Uganda it is a popular vegetable and is cooked with beans and ground nuts or sesame paste. [5]

A. gangetica leaves are included as an ingredient in a number of pot herbs in the African communities. The extract of whole plant is given to women in labour as an aid to ease the pain during childbirth [5]. Others, it is given to pregnant women with constipation in late pregnancy by mixed with pepper in the form of an enema [8].

A. gangetica is much revered for analgesic properties as evidenced in the use of the following conditions: women in labour, as ointment to treat stiff neck, stomachache and snakebites. The root powder is used to treat snakebites and stomachaches. [5]

For respiratory complaints, A. gangetica has found its use in treating asthma, dry cough with throat irritation and chest discomfort. In Maluku, the juice of A. gangetica is mixed with lime and onion juice is given to treat dry cough, while the Nigerians used the leaves to treat asthma. [5][8]

The sap of A. gangetica has anti-inflammatory activities and is used to treat sores, wounds, haemorrhoids and rheumatism. This is applied over the lesion. The plant is also conferred with antibacterial properties and it is used in the treatment of infected wounds and most importantly in cases of urethral discharges as in gonorrhoea. [5]

Preclinical Data


Antiasthmatic activity

The Native Nigerians were used the leaf extracts of A. gangetica to treat asthma. Akah et al. studied the effects of various (hexane, ehtylacetate and methanol) leaf extracts to determine this activity. It is reported that the leaf extracts did not exhibit contractile or relaxant activity on isolated tissue preparation. However, the extracts inhibited contractions induced by spasmogen. [7]

Anti-inflammatory activity

Hexane, ethyacetate and methanol extracts of A. gangetica leaves showed anti-inflammatory activity. [7]

Antimicrobial activity

Ethanol extract of A. gangetica flowers exhibited a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity, particularly against Escherichia coli, Proteus vulgaris, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. [9]

Angiotensin I- converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitory activity

A. gangetica was amongst the 8 of 16 nutritive plants in South Africa which proved to have ACE inhibition activity. This activity was not dependent on the presence of tannins. [10]

Antidiabetic activity

Fresh juice of the leaves of A. gangetica in concentrations of 25%, 50% and 75% showed significant ability to reduce elevated plasma glucose levels in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. However, it was observed that the juice also caused a significant rise in the level of bicarbonate. This fact renders it unsuitable for use in managing diabetes mellitus. [11]


Acute toxicity test showed an LD50 of methanol extract was found to be 2150 mg/kg in mice. [7]

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of A. gangetica [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Asystasia gangetica (L.) T.Anderson [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Jun 17]. Available from:
  2. Lee SA, Chen CP. Asystasia gangetica (L.) T. Anderson In: Mannetje L't, Jones RM, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 4: Forages. Wageningen, Netherlands: Pudoc Scientific Publisher, 1992; p. 51-53.
  3. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume I A-B. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 479-480.
  4. Grubben GJH, Denton OA. Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 2. Vegetables. Wageningen, Netherlands: PROTA Foundation/Backhuys Publishers/CTA, 2004; p. 100.
  5. Tolu Odugbemi. Outlines and pictures of medicinal plants from Nigeria. Tolu Odugbemi University of Lagos Press, Lagos; 2008. p. 78.
  6. Goode PM. Edible plants of Uganda. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organisation of The United Nation, 1989; p. 49-52.
  7. Akah PA, Ezike AC, Nwafor SV, Okoli CO, Enwerem NM. Evaluation of the anti-asthmatic property of Asystasia gangetica leaf extracts. J Ethnopharmacol. 2003; 89(1):25-36.
  8. Philippine Medicinal Plants. Asistasia. Asystasia gangetica Linn. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [updated 2014 Aprl; cited 2016 Jun 27] Available from:
  9. Sudhakar M, Rao ChV, Rao PM, Raju DB, Venkateswarlu Y. Antimicrobial activity of Caesalpinia pulcherrima, Euphorbia hirta and Asystasia gangeticum. Fitoterapia. 2006 Jul;77(5):378-380.
  10. Ramesar S, Baijnath H, Govender T, Mackraj I. Angiotensin I-converting enzyme inhibitor activity of nutritive plants in KwaZulu-Natal. J Med Food. 2008;11(2):331-336.
  11. Rotimi SO, Omotosho OE, Rotimi OA. Persistence of acidosis in alloxan-induced diabetic rats treated with the juice of Asystasia gangetica leaves. Pharmacogn Mag. 2011; 7(25):25-30.