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Eclipta prostrata (L.) L. 1771
pronounced: ee-KLIP-tuh pross-TRAH-tuh
(Asteraceae – the daisy family)
common name: False Daisy
Eclipta is from the Greek εκλειπω (ekleipo), to leave out; possibly referring to the absence of a pappus; prostrata is from the Latin prostratus, thrown to the ground, prostrate.
This little plant, found growing by the outdoor shower at the Picnic Bay swimming enclosure, is sometimes prostrate and sometimes erect, a summer annual growing up to about 60 cm in height. This specimen was erect, probably due to the plentiful supply of water from the shower. The root is well-developed, cylindrical, and greyish.
The leaves are opposite, elliptic to lanceolate, either without a petiole or with a short petiole, shortly thickened, approximately 3–12 cm in length and up to 3 cm wide, with short appressed hairs on both surfaces. The leaf margins have widely spaced teeth. The stems are initially green, becoming reddish brown, freely branched, and capable of rooting at the nodes.
The floral heads occur alone or in clusters of 2 or 3 on small stalks at the end of stems or in leaf axils. They are rounded, and consist of small white ray florets surrounding greenish disk florets. They are 6–8 mm in diameter; there is a ring of 8–10 green bracts; the achene is flattened and narrowly winged.
The fruits are borne in heads; individual fruits are about 3 mm long, the surface strongly tuberculate. As mentioned above, there is no pappus.
The plant grows commonly in moist places as a weed all over the world, being particularly widely distributed throughout India, China, Thailand and Brazil.
In Ayurvedic medicine, the leaf extract is considered a powerful liver tonic, a rejuvenative, and especially good for the hair. A black dye produced from the plant is used for dyeing hair and for tattooing. The plant also has traditional external uses, especially for treating such conditions as athlete’s foot, eczema and dermatitis, on the scalp to reduce hair loss, and the leaves have been used for the treatment of scorpion stings. It is used to treat snakebite in China and Brazil. Especially in India, the expressed leaf juice, applied along with honey, is a popular remedy for catarrh in infants. The plant is rubbed on the gums to relieve toothache. There is a small amount of nicotine present in the plant, which possibly has a slight narcotic effect.
Since this little plant was photographed, it has, alas, been trampled to death by some swimmer taking a shower.
Information about medicinal qualities of plants, or about their use as medicines, is for interest only, and is not intended to be used as a guide for the treatment of medical conditions.
Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2012
Page last updated 19th November 2016