Emilia sonchifolia (L.) DC. ex DC.

Last updated: 11 Nov 2016

Scientific Name

Emilia sonchifolia (L.) DC. ex DC.


Cacalia sonchifolia Hort ex L., Crassocephalum sonchifolium (L.) Less., Emilia javanica (Burm.f.) C.B.Rob., Emilia marivelensis Elmer, Emilia purpurea Cass., Emilia rigidula DC., Emilia sinica Miq., Emilia sonchifolia var. sonchifolia, Gynura ecalyculata DC., Senecio sonchifolius (L.) Moench, Senecio sonchifolius var. bogorensis Hochr., Senecio sonchifolius var. sonchifolius. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Ketambi jantan, tetumbak merah [2]
English Consumption weed, Cupid’s paint, Cupid’s shaving brush, flora’s paintbrush, lilac tassel flower, shaving brush, sow thistle, tassel flower [2]
China Yang ti cao, yi dian hong. [2]
India Ban rai, bana mula, binj-kudo, bonkapahua, dhamapan, elikivi gida, hirankhuri, jumki hoo, kirankuri, mulshevi, muyalchevi, panom, sachimodi, sadimodi, soh byshet, undrachi, yakeshing; mayarcevi, muyalccevi (Tamil); sasasruti, sasasrutih (Sanskrit) [2]
Indonesia Udu lurun [2]
Thailand Pipi [2]
Nepal Dhude, dudhe [2]
Philippines Kipot-kipot, lamlampaka, libua, marsilanana, setim, tagulinau, tagulinaw, yayod-no-kangkong [2]
Japan Usu-beni-niga-na, haru-handama [2]
Papua New Guinea Hanga-an [2]
Africa Obhiojefe (Nigeria) [2].

Geographical Distributions

Emilia sonchifolia is a common weed with pantropical distribution. Its origin is unknown, but the genus E. cassini is chiefly African. E. sonchifolia occurs wild throughout the Old World, including Southeast Asia. In America, it has been introduced and become naturalised. [3]

Botanical Description

E. sonchifolia is member of the family Compositae. It is an annual herb, which is erect or prostrate at base and can grow up to 10-150 cm tall. It often branches from the very base, usually purplish-green and deep rooting. [3]

The stem is slender, striate, measures 2-3 mm in diametre, smooth or nearly so, solid and not laticiferous. [3]

The leaves measure 4-16 cm x 1-8 cm, with alternate arrangement, sessile, dark green above and lighter green or tinged with purple beneath. They are hairless or nearly so, and more or less irregularly coarsely den­tate. The lower leaves are more or less deeply pinnatifid or lyrate, with an orbicular-ovate or subtriangular terminal lobe, where the lower part is often narrowly alate, while in juvenile plants, they are often with patent white hairs. The up­per leaves are linear or arrowhead-shaped and semi-amplexicaul. [3]

The inflorescence is a terminal head and few together in slender corymbs or rarely solitary. The head is 20-45­flowered, subcylindrical and measuring 8-17 mm x 4-5 mm. The peduncle is 1-5 cm long and slender. There are 7-10 involucral bracts which are narrowly oblong-ovoid, usually slightly shorter than the flowers, at first erect and coher­ing up to the tips, but becoming free later and reflexed. Besides, they are green with narrow transparent margins. The cupular hypanthi­urn is at anthesis and it gradually turns convex. [3]

The ray flowers are absent. The disk flowers are bisexual. The petal is 8-12 mm long, tubular, 5-lobed, light red and rarely green or white. The ovary is short-hairy with 2 style arms. The stamens are connate. The anthers are 2-2.5 mm long with a small apical valve. [3]

The fruit is one-seeded, linear­oblongoid, measures 2.5-3 mm long, ribbed, soft hairy and brownish. The numerous pappus hairs are 6-9 mm long and white. [3]


E. sonchifolia occurs frequently as a weed in compounds, roadsides, grassy fields, on dikelets along rice fields, in cropped fields, tea, rub­ber and other plantations, teak forests, and on beaches. It prefers sunny or slightly shaded, and not-too-dry localities from sea level up to 3000 m altitude. It is locally abundant, but always occurs scattered. [3]

Chemical Constituent

E. sonchifolia aerial part has been reported to contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, senkirkine and doronine [4]. Other constituent includes simiral, β-sitosterol, stigmasterol, palmitic acid and honey acid [5].

Plant Part Used

Whole plant. [6][7]

Traditional Use

The Nepalese make use of the juice of the E. sonchifolia roots to treat diarrhoea [6]. In the Philippines the plant treats enteritis, diarrhoea and dysentery [8]. The Chinese made use of the leaf tea to treat cases of dysentery [9]. The Africans occasionally consume the plant as vegetable for its laxative properties [7]. The decoction of the leaves is used in the treatment of tape worms and roundworms infestations [10].

It has been advocated in the treatment of various inflammatory conditions including earaches, abscesses, conjunctivitis, and dental caries to name a few. The tea of the whole plant treats abscesses, influenza, burns and snakebites in China. The Nepalese uses the juice of the leaves to cure eye infections and night blindness and the same it dripped into the ears to relieve earaches [6][7], while the flowers are chewed to prevent tooth decay [6][11]. The leaves are pounded and applied on wounds and ulcers promote healing [9]. Tonsillitis is treated by painting the throat with the juice extracted from the leaves mashed with salt and onion. Another method is by applying the paste of the leaves over the throat [10].

It is considered an astringent, febrifuge and expectorant by the Nepalese [6]. The Chewa tribe of Malawi make use of the root decoction to ease difficult labour [12]. As a febrifuge the Africans give a decoction of the leaves or in cases of infants, bathed with the decoction which also helps prevent febrile convulsions [7].

Preclinical Data


Anti-inflammatory activity

The methanolic extract of E. sonchifolia leaves was found to inhibit carrageenan-induced edema indicating it has anti-inflammatory activity [13]. In 2000, a preliminary study has been carried out on the anti-inflammatory activity of aqueous and methanolic extract of the leaves of E. sonchifolia and found the aqueous extracts had a more pronounced effect [14].

Antioxidant activity

The study on antioxidant activity of E. sonchifolia leaves was found that both fresh juice and methanol extract had potent inhibitory effects on hydroxl radical formation and superoxide radical generation in vitro [13]. In addition, the flavonol fraction extract of E. sonchifolia (whole plant) to be a potent inhibitor of peroxidative damage as evidenced by its ability to modify the antioxidant peroxidation products, the activities of the antioxidant enzymes-superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase and glutathione-S-transferase and the concentration of reduced glutathione [15].

Antibacterial activity

A number of studies were carried out in China to determine the efficacy of various extracts of E. sonchifolia against an array of bacteria and fungi. The investigators isolated the flavonoid fraction of E. sonchifolia and found that they had strong antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and weaker activity against Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis [16][17]. They also looked into the antibacterial activity of the alkaloids fraction and found them to have medium sensitivity against the same bacteria in a dose dependent manner [18].

Cytotoxic activity

The cytotoxic activity of various extracts of E. sonchifolia has been studied. The preliminary study of methanolic extract of the plant found that it was able to inhibit the growth of Daltons Lymphoma, Erlich ascites carcinoma and mouse lung fibroblast (L-929) cells, but not to normal human lymphocytes in vitro. The extract seems to inhibit DNA synthesis as evidenced by a reduction in tritiated thymidine incorporation into DL cells under in vitro conditions. Furthermore, the active principle responsible for the anticancer activity in the n-hexane extract fraction has been isolated. This extract induced membrane blebbing, nuclear condensation, DBA ladder formation and formation of apoptotic bodies which are characteristic of apoptotic cell death. [19][20]

Anticataract activity

An in vivo study was conducted to evaluate the modulatory effects of flavonoids from E. sonchifolia against selenite cataract. It has been well established that E. sonchifolia possesses potent antioxidant activity and the flavonoid fraction contributes a significant proportion of this activity. The flavonoid of E. sonchifolia was found to be able to increase the activities of superoxide dismutase, catalase and reduced glutathione. This suggests that it can modulate lens opacification and oxidative stress in selenite-induced cataract. [21]

Antidiabetic activity

In Eastern Nigeria, E. sonchifolia is used in the treatment of diabetes. The effects of the aqueous extract of this plant on glucose concentration and liver function enzymes were assessed. E. sonchifolia was found to be able to decrease the blood glucose level and seem to have hepato-protective effects in experimental diabetes. [22]


No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of E. sonchifolia. [3]


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Emilia sonchifolia (L.) DC. ex DC. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Feb 11; cited 2016 Aug 22]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/gcc-117132
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume III E-L. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 54-55.
  3. Grubben GJH. Emilia sonchifolia (L.) In: Siemonsma JS, Piluek K, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 8. Vegetables. Wageningen, Netherlands: Pudoc Scientific Publishers, 1993.
  4. Cheng D, Röder E. [Pyrrolizidine alkaloids from Emilia sonchifolia.] Planta Med. 1986;52(6):484-486.
  5. Gao JJ, Cheng DL, Liu XP. [Chemical constituents of Emilia sonchifolia L. DC]. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 1993;18(2):102-127. Chinese.
  6. Manandhar NP. Plants and people of Nepal. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, 2002; p. 219.
  7. Maurice MI. Handbook of African medicinal plants. CRC Press Boca Raton, Florida; 1993: p. 177-178
  8. Philipines Medicinal Plants. Tagulinaw. Emilia sonchifolia (Linn.) DC. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [updated 2015 Jun; cited 2016 Aug 22]. Available from: http://www.stuartxchange.org/Tagulinaw.html
  9. Galinato MI, Moody K, Piggin CM. Upland rice weeds of South and Southeast Asia. Makati City, Philippines: International Rice Research Institute, 1999; p. 22-23.
  10. Boban KJ. Tribal ethnomedicine: Continuity and change. New Delhi: APH Publishing Corporation, 1998; p. 174,178,181.
  11. Kumar V, Bhatia SS. Complete biology for medical college entrance examination. New Delhi: Mc Graw Hill Education, 2009; p. 214.
  12. Morris B. Chewa medical botany: A study of herbalism in Southern Malawi. Hamburg: LIT, 1996; p. 259.
  13. Shylesh BS, Padikkala J. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity of Emilia sonchifolia Fitoterapia. 1999;70(3):275-278.
  14. Muko KN, Ohiri FC. A preliminary study on the anti-inflammatory properties of Emilia sonchifolia leaf extracts. Fitoterapia. 2000;71(1):65-68.
  15. Devi DG, Lija Y, Cibin TR, Biju PG, Devi VG, Abraham A. Evaluation of the protective effects of Emilia sonchifolia Linn.(DC.) on perchlorate-induced oxidative damage. J Biol Sci. 2006;6(5):887-892.
  16. Li JS, Yan LJ, Su HW, Lin Z. Study on separations of Emilia sonchifolia flavonoids and their antibacterial activities [J]. Food Sci. 2007;28(9):196-198..
  17. Chen XW, Wei YY, Zhou WP, Pan MJ, Li JS, Shipin K. Study on separation and the antimicrobial effects of the total flavanoids of Emilia sonchifolia. Food Sci Tech. 2009;1(1):163-165.
  18. Zhou WP, Wei YY, Li JS, Yan LJ, Lai XF. Study on the extraction and antibacterial activites of the alkaloids in Emilia sonchifolia from Guangxi. Lishizhen Medicine and Materia Medica Research. 2008;8:015.
  19. Shylesh BS, Padikkala J. In vitro cytotoxic and antitumor property of Emilia sonchifolia (L.) DC in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000;73(3):495-500.
  20. Shylesh BS, Ajikumaran SN, Subramoniam A. Induction of cell-specific apoptosis and protection from Dalton’s Lymphoma challenge in mice by an active fraction of Emilia sonchifolia. Indian Pharmacol. 2005;34(4):232-237.
  21. Lija Y, Biju PG, Reeni A, Cibin TR, Sahasranamam V, Abraham A. Modulation of selenite cataract by the flavonoid fraction of Emilia sonchifolia in experimental animal models. Phytother Res. 2006;20(12):1091-1095.
  22. Monago CC, Ogbonnaya AE. Effects of aqueous extract of Emilia sonchifolia on some liver enzyme in dithizone induced diabetes in rabbits Nigerian. J Biochem Mol Biol. 2009;24(1): 8-15.