Neptunia oleracea Lour.

Last updated: 6 Oct 2016

Scientific Name

Neptunia oleracea Lour.


Acacia lacustris (Willd.) Desf., Desmanthus lacustris Willd., Desmanthus natans Willd., Desmanthus natans "Willd., p.p.", Desmanthus stolonifer DC., Mimosa aquatica Pers., Mimosa lacustris Kunth, Mimosa lacustris Bonpl., Mimosa natans L.f., Mimosa natans L.f., Mimosa prostrata Lam., Neptunia natans (L.f.) Druce, Neptunia prostrata (Lam.) Baill., Neptunia stolonifera Guill., Neptunia stolonifera Guill. & Perr. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Kangkong putri, keman ayer, keman gajah [2], tangki [3]
English Water neptunia [2], water mimosa [3]
India Alambusa, chui-mui, cuntaikkirai, diyanidikumba, ishing-ikaithabi, jal-lajamani, laj-alu, lajalu, lajjalu, lajri, nidrayam, nirtottavati, niutalavapu,nirutalavapu, niti-todda-vassi, nittitoddavaddi, nittitottavati, pani-lajuk, pani-najak, paninajak, sadai, sundaikkirai, sundaykiray, suntaikkirai. [2]
Indonesia Kemon [3]
Thailand Phakkrachet, phakchit [3]
Laos (‘Phak) kas’ééd [3]
Cambodia Kânhchhnaét [3]
Vietnam Rau nh[us]t, rau r[us]t [3]
France Neptunie potagère [3].

Geographical Distributions

Neptunia oleracea is widely distributed in the tropics of both hemispheres. The origin of the species is uncer­tain. It occurs wild and cultivated as a vegetable throughout Southeast Asia, particularly in Thai­land and Indo-China. [3]

Botanical Description

N. oleracea comes from the family of Leguminosae. It is a perennial herb which is sometimes grown as an annual, aquatic, floating or prostrate near water's edge. Its taproot is thick and becomes woody. The stems are terete, measure up to 1.5 m long, rarely branched, become detached from the primary root system, form spongy-fibrous swollen internodes (to float) and produce fibrous adventitious roots at the nodes when growing in water. [3]

The leaves are arranged alternate, bipin­nate and with 2-3(-4) pairs of pinnae. The petiole is 2-7 cm long and angled. The rachis is 3.5-8 cm long and angled. The rachis of pinnae is 2.5-6.5 cm long and winged. There are 8-20 pairs of leaflets per pinna which are oblong, measuring 5-18 mm x 1.5-3.5 mm, asymmetrical, hairless or with sparsely ciliate margins. [3]

The inflorescence is an axillary, erect or slight­ly nodding solitary spike which is obovoid in bud and 30-50-flowered. The peduncle is 5-30 cm long. The flowers are small, sessile and yellow, with the lower ones sterile while the upper ones are bisexual. The bisexual flowers are with bell-shaped sepal of 2-3 mm and 5-lobed. The 5 regu­lar petals are free and 3-4.5 mm long. The 10 free stamens are 6-9 mm long. The pistil is up to 9 mm long and usually exserted beyond the stamens. [3]

The fruit is a legume, broadly oblongoid and flat, measuring 2-3 cm x 1 cm and dehiscent along both sutures. The fruit stalk is longer than the persistent sepal. [3]

The seeds are usually 4-8 seeds which are ovoid compressed, measuring 4-5 mm x 2.5-3.5 mm and brown. [3]


N. oleracea is a common floating plant in and around fresh water ponds, swamps and canals at low altitudes up to 300 m. When the water level falls, the plants perish. The rooted land form has smaller leaves and flowers, and has no spongy floating tissue. The plant prefers 30-80 cm depth of slow-moving water, full sun and hot and humid conditions. Shade, brackish water and saline soil adversely affect plant growth. [3]

Chemical Constituent

N. oleracea has been reported to contain pheophorbide A, pheophorbide B, pheophorbide B ethyl ester, pheophobide A methyl ester, and 10-hydroxy-pheophorbide A. [4]

Plant Part Used

Roots [5]

Traditional Use

N. oleracea is mainly gathered and cultivated for its young shoots, which are consumed as a vegetable, raw, cooked or fried. The people of Kelantan (Malaysia) use the root as an external remedy for necrosis of the bones and hard palate. The juice of the stem is squeezed into the ear to cure earache and the root is used in the advanced stage of syphilis in Malaysia. [3]

N. oleracea is considered a refrigerant and an astringent agent. [5] It is used to treat fever by applying the infusion of the whole plant on the body of the patient. Juice of the stem is dropped into the ear to relieve earaches. The pounded root is applied over the nose to treat syphilitic ulcers of the nose (resdong) while the decoction is taken to treat syphilis. [6]

Preclinical Data

No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of N. oleracea [3]


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Neptunia oleracea Lour. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2010 Jul 4; cited 2016 Oct 6]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume IV M-Q. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 270-271.
  3. Paisooksantivatana Y. Neptunia oleracea Loureiro. In: Siemonsma JS, Piluek K Editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 8: Vegetables. Netherlands: Pudoc, Wageningen, 1993; p. 217-218.
  4. Nakamura Y, Murakami A, Koshimizu K, Ohigashi H. Identification of pheophorbide A and its related compounds as possible anti-tumor promoters in the leaves of Neptunia oleracea. Biosci Biotech Biochem. 1996;60(6):1028-1030.
  5. Nadkarni KM. Dr. K.M. Nadkarni’s Indian materia medica. Volume 1. Mumbai: Popular Prakashan, 2005; p. 847.
  6. Ong HC. Vegetables for health and healing. Kuala Lumpur: Utusan Publications, 2008; p. 187.