Commelina benghalensis L.

Last updated: 9 Jun 2016

Scientific Name

Commelina benghalensis L.


Commelina canescens Vahl, Commelina cavaleriei H.Lév., Commelina cucullata L., Commelina delicatula Schltdl., Commelina hirsuta R.Br., Commelina mollis Jacq., Commelina nervosa Burm.f., Commelina poligama Fern.-Vill., Commelina procurrens Schltdl., Commelina prostrata Regel, Commelina radiciflora R.Br. ex C.B.Clarke, Commelina rhizocarpa Afzel. ex C.B.Clarke, Commelina senegalensis Ten., Commelina turbinata Vahl, Commelina uncata C.B.Clarke, Commelina villosiuscula Sol. ex C.B.Clarke [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Rum put mayiam [2], rumput mayam [3]
English Wandering jew [2]
China Fan bao cao [3]
India Adutinnathalai, bakhna, buchna, bukano, dholapata, hittagani, kaane sura, kaanom, vazhai, kamchat, kan kaua, kana arak, kanan valai, paniya, shishmuli, tanduliya, vatspriya, yennadari [3]
Indonesia Petungan, kekupu (Javanese), tali korang (Sundanese) [2]
Laos Kaab pii [2]
Myanmar Myet-cho [2]
Philippines Bias-bias (Tagalog), kabilau (Bisaya), kulkul-Iasi (Iloko) [2]
Vietnam D[aaf]u ri[eef]u, th[af]i l[af]i l[oo]ng [2]
Japan Maruba-tsuyu-kusa [3]
East Africa Djadja, ekiteza, ekoropot, etaija, mukengeria, odielo, ototo, rikongiro
Southern Africa Bengaalse, wandelende jood, blouselblommetjie, khotswana [3].

Geographical Distributions

Commelina benghalensis is widely dispersed in the Old World tropics and the Pacific Islands, and natu­ralized in South America and Florida. [2]

Botanical Description

C. benghalensis is a member of the Commelinaceae family [1]. It is an annual to perennial, creeping or ascending herb, usually hairy and rhizoma­tous [2].

The leaves are ovate to elliptical, measure 4-7 cm x 2-4 cm, obtuse to acuminate at apex and with sheath rusty ciliate. Normally, the leaves are with 1 spathe per axil, boat-shaped, about 1.5 cm long and with partly connate margins. [2]

The upper raceme is in spathe with 1-3 sterile flowers while the lower raceme is with 1-5 bisexual flowers. The peduncle is short, and measures 0.5-1 cm long. The flower is 1.5 cm in diametre, and with 3-4 mm long petals. It is blue or violet and rarely white. There are 3 fertile stamens, 3 staminodes with 1 often without the anther while the cleistoga­mous flowers are sometimes underground rhi­zomes. The capsule is elongate-globular. It is 4-6 mm long, 3-­celled and 5-seeded. The seeds are larger than the others. [2]

The seeds are 1.5-3.5 mm long, strongly ribbed-wrinkled and greyish-brown. [2]


C. benghalensis is growing in less humid conditions than C. diffusa, on sunny or lightly shaded localities, grasslands, waste places and compost heaps, along roadsides, around vil­lages, on rich, often heavy soils, and from sea level up to 1000 m altitude. [2]

Chemical Constituent

C. benghalensis has been reported to contain n-octacosanol, n-triacontanol, n-dotriacontanol, stigmasterol, β-sitosterol and campesterol. [4]

Plant Part Used

Leaves, roots and whole plant. [5][6][7]

Traditional Use

The whole plant is useful in sores, infant oral thrush and even leprosy. In southern Nigeria, the plant is made into a poultice and applied on sores of the feet [5]. In India, it is used in the treatment of leprosy. In Uganda and Southern Africa, the plant is used to counter fertility in women [6]. The whole plant is also a laxative [5].

The leaves are used in fever, scorpion sting and wounds [5]. A solution made from pounded leaves soaked in warm water is used to treat diarrhoea in Tanzania [6].

The liquid found in the flower spathe is used to treat eye complains in Zanzibar. [6]

Extracted juice from the roots of C. benghalensis is given in cases of indigestion by Nepalese. [7] In southern Africa, they used the decoction of the root to relieve stomach disorder. [6] The roots treat liver complaints, fever. [5]

The stems and sap of the leaves are good for ophthalmia and used by the people of East Africa. [3]

Preclinical Data

No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing



Figure 1: Line drawing of C. benghalensis [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Commelina benghalensis L.[homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Jun 9] Available from:
  2. Ipor I. Commelina benghalensis L. In: van Valkenburg JLCH, Bunyapraphatsara N, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publishers, 2001; p. 18-184.
  3. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms and etymology. Volume II C-D. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 1082.
  4. Khare CP, editor. Indian medicinal plants: An illustrated dictionary. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2007; p. 168.
  5. Panda H. Medicinal plants cultivation & their uses. New Delhi: Asia Pacific Business Press, 2000; p. 523.
  6. Grubben GJH, Denton OA, editors. Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 2. Vegetables. Wageningen, Netherlands: PROTA Foundation/Backhuys Publishers/CTA, 2004; p. 212
  7. Manandhar NP. Plants and people of Nepal. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, 2002; p. 167.