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Datasheet

Phyllanthus urinaria (leafflower)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 21 October 2015
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Phyllanthus urinaria
  • Preferred Common Name
  • leafflower
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • It is an invasive species in the southern USA and on the noxious weed list in some states. Like any other weed species, P. urinaria is a plant with opportunistic traits, adaptable to a range of ecological habitats. The weed is generally non-invasive ...
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Identity

Top of page

Preferred Scientific Name

  • Phyllanthus urinaria L.

Preferred Common Name

  • leafflower

Other Scientific Names

  • Phyllanthus cantoniensis Schweigg.
  • Phyllanthus cantoniensis Hornem.
  • Phyllanthus urinaria Wall. non L.

International Common Names

  • English: chamber bitter; common leafflower
  • Spanish: flor escondida
  • French: petit Tamarin rouge; Phyllanthe diuretique

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: erva-pombinha
  • China: ye xia zhu
  • Indonesia: memeniran; meniran
  • Japan: ko-makansou; komikanso
  • Java: memeniran; meniran
  • Malaysia: amin buah; dukong anak; keman jolok
  • Nusa Tenggara: memeniran; meniran
  • Philippines: apoy-apoyan; ibaiba-an; laiolaioan; lurulaioan; minuhminuh; payog; surusampalok; tabi; takum-takum; talindanon; turutalikod
  • USA: creole senna; gale of wind

EPPO code

  • PYLUR (Phyllanthus urinaria)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of pageIt is an invasive species in the southern USA and on the noxious weed list in some states. Like any other weed species, P. urinaria is a plant with opportunistic traits, adaptable to a range of ecological habitats. The weed is generally non-invasive in its native range, despite its recorded presence in a number of countries and affecting a range of economic crops. It is, however, a declared noxious weed in Alabama, USA, and is known to be invasive elsewhere where it has been introduced.

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Euphorbiales
  •                         Family: Euphorbiaceae
  •                             Genus: Phyllanthus
  •                                 Species: Phyllanthus urinaria

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of pagePhyllanthus urinaria L. does not have confusing synonyms common with other species in the genus. Two subspecies have been put forward, subsp. nudicarpus Rossignol & R. Haicour and subsp. urinaria; however, it appears that these are not widely accepted.

Description

Top of pageP. urinaria is an erect, slender, branched, glabrous herb, 10-35 cm high, obtuse or apiculate, the base slightly oblique; stipules lanceolate. Stem more or less crimson red. Leaves with wide asymmetric base, purplish rimmed, 5-20 mm long and 1-7 mm wide with mucronulate apices. Higher leaf axils bear solitary or paired male flowers, with female flowers in the lower axils. Flowers, very small, 5-merous, axillary, ca. 1 mm in diameter. Male flowers with ovate or ovate-oblong greenish sepals, yellowish-white with a green middle strip, erect anther cells, the slits vertical. Female flowers with sessile or very short pedicels 0.15-0.30 mm long, ultimately 0.55-0.68 mm, thickened all over with reddish sepals in the middle, ovary warty. Fruit green, red or greenish-red, densely verrucous, ca. 3 mm in diameter, muricate or smooth, of 3 dehiscent cocci. Seeds are transversely ribbed on the back, and sides.

Plant Type

Top of pageAnnual
Broadleaved
Herbaceous
Seed propagated

Distribution

Top of pageP. urinaria is thought to be naturalized everywhere where introduced (USDA-ARS, 2003), and is probably more widespread in tropical Africa than present records indicate.

Distribution Table

Top of page

The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

CountryDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferencesNotes

ASIA

BangladeshWidespreadNativeInvasiveMoody, 1989
BhutanPresentNativeNot invasiveGrierson and Long, 1987
Brunei DarussalamRestricted distributionNativeNot invasiveMoody, 1989
CambodiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
China
-FujianRestricted distributionNativeNot invasiveAnon, 2000
-GuangdongRestricted distributionNativeNot invasiveAnon, 2000
-GuangxiPresentNativeNot invasiveUSDA-ARS, 2003
-GuizhouRestricted distributionNativeNot invasiveJikai et al., 2002
-HainanRestricted distributionNativeNot invasiveAnon, 2000
-HebeiPresentNativeNot invasiveUSDA-ARS, 2003
-HenanRestricted distributionNativeNot invasiveAnon, 2000
-HubeiRestricted distributionNativeNot invasiveAnon, 2000; USDA-ARS, 2003
-HunanRestricted distributionNativeNot invasiveAnon, 2000
-ShaanxiPresentNativeNot invasiveUSDA-ARS, 2003
-ShanxiPresentNativeNot invasiveUSDA-ARS, 2003
-TibetPresentNativeNot invasiveUSDA-ARS, 2003
-XinjiangPresentNativeNot invasiveUSDA-ARS, 2003
-YunnanPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2003
IndiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsWidespreadNativeInvasiveMoody, 1989
-Andhra PradeshRestricted distributionNativeNot invasiveMoody, 1989
-Arunachal PradeshRestricted distributionNativeMoody, 1989
-AssamRestricted distributionNativeNot invasiveMoody, 1989
-BiharRestricted distributionNativeNot invasiveMoody, 1989
-GoaWidespreadNativeInvasiveMoody, 1989
-GujaratWidespreadNativeInvasiveMoody, 1989
-Indian PunjabRestricted distributionNativeNot invasiveMoody, 1989; Ahmed, 1998
-KarnatakaRestricted distributionNativeNot invasiveMoody, 1989
-KeralaRestricted distributionNativeNot invasiveRao et al., 1970; Moody, 1989
-Madhya PradeshRestricted distributionNativeNot invasiveMoody, 1989
-MaharashtraRestricted distributionNativeNot invasiveSatyan et al., 1995; Prakash et al., 1995
-ManipurRestricted distributionNativeNot invasiveMoody, 1989
-OdishaRestricted distributionNativeNot invasiveMoody, 1989
-Tamil NaduWidespreadNativeInvasiveMoody, 1989
-TripuraRestricted distributionNativeMoody, 1989
-Uttar PradeshRestricted distributionNativeNot invasiveMaithani et al., 1986; Dogra et al., 1978; Moody, 1989; Bagchi et al., 1992
-West BengalWidespreadNativeInvasiveMoody, 1989
IndonesiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
-Irian JayaWidespreadNativeInvasiveSoerjani et al., 1987; Moody, 1989
-JavaWidespreadNativeInvasiveSoerjani et al., 1987; Moody, 1989
-KalimantanWidespreadNativeInvasiveSoerjani et al., 1987; Moody, 1989
-MoluccasWidespreadNativeInvasiveSoerjani et al., 1987; Moody, 1989
-SulawesiWidespreadNativeInvasiveSoerjani et al., 1987; Moody, 1989
-SumatraWidespreadNativeInvasiveSoerjani et al., 1987; Moody, 1989
Japan
-HonshuPresentNativeNot invasiveUSDA-ARS, 2003
-KyushuPresentNativeNot invasiveUSDA-ARS, 2003
-ShikokuPresentNativeNot invasiveUSDA-ARS, 2003
Korea, Republic ofWidespreadNativeInvasiveKim et al., 1999
LaosPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
MalaysiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
-Peninsular MalaysiaWidespreadNativeInvasiveBaki et al., 1997; Ridley, 1924; Burkill, 1935; Moody, 1989
-SabahWidespreadNativeInvasiveMoody, 1989
-SarawakWidespreadNativeInvasiveMoody, 1989
MyanmarWidespreadNativeInvasiveMoody, 1989
PhilippinesWidespreadNativeInvasiveMoody, 1989; Pancho & Obien, 1995; USDA-ARS, 2003
Sri LankaWidespreadNativeInvasiveUSDA-ARS, 2003
TaiwanWidespreadNativeInvasiveYang et al., 1987; Lin et al., 1999; USDA-ARS, 2003
ThailandWidespreadNativeNot invasiveDirekbusarakom et al., 1997
VietnamWidespreadNativeInvasiveJeanplong, 1973; USDA-ARS, 2003

AFRICA

CameroonWidespreadIntroducedNot invasiveMissouri Botanical Garden, 2003
SeychellesPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2003

NORTH AMERICA

MexicoPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2003
USARestricted distributionIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS, 2002
-AlabamaWidespreadIntroducedInvasiveWehtje et al., 1992; USDA-NRCS, 2002
-ArkansasPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS, 2002
-FloridaWidespreadIntroducedInvasiveWehtje et al., 1992; Norcini et al., 1995; USDA-NRCS, 2002; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS, 2002
-IllinoisPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS, 2002
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS, 2002; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003
-MississippiPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS, 2002
-North CarolinaPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS, 2002
-South CarolinaPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS, 2002
-TennesseePresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS, 2002
-TexasWidespreadIntroducedInvasiveWehtje et al., 1992; USDA-NRCS, 2002
-VirginiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS, 2002

CENTRAL AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN

Costa RicaWidespreadIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2003
GuatemalaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2003
HondurasPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2003
NicaraguaWidespreadIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2003
PanamaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2003
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS, 2002

SOUTH AMERICA

BrazilRestricted distributionIntroducedInvasiveCruz et al., 1994
ColombiaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2003
EcuadorPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2003
French GuianaPresentIntroducedBancilhon et al., 1979
PeruPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2003
SurinameWidespreadIntroducedInvasiveSegeren et al., 1984
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2003

History of Introduction and Spread

Top of pageP. urinaria is native to tropical Asia but has spread and naturalized in the warm tropics and subtropics and is now prevalent worldwide (Pancho and Obien, 1995). No further information is available on the history of introduction and spread of P. urinaria from its native Asian tropics to other parts of the world.

Risk of Introduction

Top of pageThe relatively free or unrestricted movement of plants or plant parts within countries makes it possible that both seeds and vegetative parts of P. urinaria have been intentionally introduced to various parts of those countries where the weed is prevalent, unhindered, principally through its use as a medicinal plant. Sharing of agricultural implements, especially tillage and harvesting implements, among farmers either through the hire-for-service by private individuals or cooperatives may also help to disperse the propagules from one locality to another.

Habitat

Top of pageIt is found in a wide range of ecological habitats up to 1500 m in Java, Indonesia (Soerjani et al., 1987), or upland fields and roadsides in China (Anon, 2000). In Malaysia and the Philippines it is also noted in open or somewhat shaded areas, preferably on moist, fertile soils, on cultivated fields, arable peat, grasslands and also on roadsides and waste ground (Ridley, 1924; Burkill, 1935; Masayu, 1995; Pancho and Obien, 1995).

Habitat List

Top of page
CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Littoral
Coastal areasPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural landPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areasPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchardsPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems)Present, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production)Present, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsidesPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areasPresent, no further detailsHarmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
RiverbanksPresent, no further details
WetlandsPresent, no further details

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of pageIt is a weed of minor importance in both arable and non-arable lands, infesting irrigated lowland and upland rice, potato, groundnuts, vegetable crops, and fruit orchards in South and South-east Asia (Ridley, 1924; Burkill, 1935; Soerjani et al., 1987; Moody, 1989; Pancho and Obien, 1995; Galinato et al., 1999). It is also a weed of tobacco, young cocoa, coconut, and upland rice in Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand (Waterhouse, 1993). Baki et al. (1997) reported a high prevalence of the weed in arable peat in Peninsular Malaysia. Jeanplong (1973) reported high incidences of the weed in maize, French bean, sweet potato and radish in North Vietnam. Similarly in China, the weed is prevalent in cotton crops subjected to zero-tillage regimes (Li et al., 1989) and in potato and groundnut (Anon, 2000).

Growth Stages

Top of pageSeedling stage, Vegetative growing stage

Biology and Ecology

Top of pagePhysiology and Phenology

Heteromorphy is prevalent in seed of Phyllanthus spp. including P. urinaria, with both brown and yellow seeds with the yellow seeds generally not viable. Seeds of P. urinaria are photoblastic, requiring light for germination (Wehtje et al., 1992). Maximum seed germination of 79% occurred within the temperature range of 25-35°C and temperature regimes outside this range were inhibitory to seed germination. Osmotic potentials of 0, 304, and 507 kPA resulted in 85, 24, and 14% germination, respectively. Seedling growth was optimized with full exposure to sunlight. Shading or sunlight reduced by >26% was inhibitory to seedling growth of P. urinaria. Burnt natural forest registered increased density and frequency of herbs and shrubs, including P. urinaria, as compared to unburned areas in Uttar Pradesh, India, probably due to stimulated seed germination following forest fires (Maithani et al., 1986). Dogra et al. (1978) recorded higher nitrogen content among P. urinaria plants subjected to shady conditions, and a positive correlation with soils containing a high nitrogen content. The shoots contain more nitrogen than fruits. Mori et al. (1997) successfully synthesized phyllanthurinolactone and its diastereoisomer, the bioactive leaf-closing factor of the nyctinastic P. urinaria.

Reproductive Biology

Phyllanthus urinaria propagates principally through seeds. Wehtje et al. (1992) reported that seeds of P. urinaria require light for germination, and as such, seeds buried deeper than 5 cm failed to germinate. Further, the right osmotic potential (kPA=0) and temperature regimes (25-35°C) ensure high occurrence of seed germination. Optimum seedling and subsequent plant growth prevailed under full sunlight.

Environmental Requirements

P. urinaria is a tropical and subtropical species, tolerant of high temperatures and not present anywhere where frosts occur. It is found in locations with mean annual rainfall from 275 mm to 2500 mm, it is generally a sub-humid to humid species. It is tolerant of saline and infertile soils and of a range of pH from acid peat to alkaline calcareous soils. A range of altitudes can be tolerated from 0 to 1800 m.

Associations

P. urinaria is often found growing in sympatry with P. debilis in Malaysia (Ridley, 1924; Burkill, 1935). P. urinaria is a symptomless carrier and potential host of Rastonia solanacearum in Taiwan. High occurrence of P. urinaria prevailed in heartrot-affected coconut fields in Surinam. The weed is an alternative host of two root-knot nematodes, Meloidogyne incognita (Valdez, 1968) and Meloidogyne graminicola (Rao et al., 1970).

Air Temperature

Top of page
ParameterLower limitUpper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC)5
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)3338
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)812

Rainfall

Top of page
ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall2752500mm; lower/upper limits

Rain Regime

Top of pageBimodal
Uniform

Soil Tolerances

Top of page

Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • very acid

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • shallow

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of pageNo species-specific natural enemies are known. P. urinaria is an alternative host of the root knot nematodes Meloidogyne incognita (Valdez, 1968), and Meloidogyne graminicola (Rao et al., 1970). Segeren et al. (1984) recorded high incidences of P. urinaria in plantations of coconut affected by heartrot (associated with Phytomonas spp.) in Surinam. The weed was most resistant to Ralstonia solanacearum, showing no symptoms after being artificially inoculated by stem-prick and soil-drenching methods (Lin et al., 1999). P. urinaria is a symptomless carrier and potential host of R. solanacearum in Taiwan.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of pageNatural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

Seeds of P. urinaria can be dispersed by water as they are hydrochorous (Soerjani et al., 1987). Wind dispersal of seeds is also possible.

Vector Transmission (Biotic)

Since P. urinaria is eaten by animals, seed dispersal through herbivory or zoochory prevails (Soerjani et al., 1987).

Agricultural Practices

Tillage and harvesting implements, and tillage and other agronomic practices of land preparation help to move and disperse seeds, fruits and other propagules of P. urinaria from one farm to the next, or from one locality to another.

Intentional Introduction

Popular usage of the herb as a medicinal plant and folk medicines in many countries will help to introduce P. urinaria from one locality to another or from one country to another, despite quarantine regulatory protocols in place. This is particularly true in China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and other Asian countries.

Pathway Vectors

Top of page
VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Soil, sand, gravel etc.Soil and water.Yes

Plant Trade

Top of page
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Bark
Bulbs, Tubers, Corms, Rhizomes
Growing medium accompanying plants
Leaves
Seedlings, Micropropagated plants
Wood

Impact Summary

Top of page
CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collectionsNegative
Animal/plant productsNegative
Biodiversity (generally)Negative
Crop productionNegative
Environment (generally)Negative
Livestock productionNegative
Native floraNegative
TourismNone
Trade/international relationsNone
Transport/travelNone

Impact

Top of pageP. urinaria is a weed in several countries affecting many crops, such as rice, potato, groundnut, tobacco, young cocoa, coconut, cotton, maize, various vegetables and fruit orchards. Some form of economic loss in yield and quality is inflicted on crops where the weed is prevalent. To arrest those losses, weeding operations need to be carried out, and these will incur extra costs to farmers. In countries where credit and cash flow are a problem, weeding operations will have a negative economic impact on farmers. However, it may appear that the economic uses of and benefits from P. urinaria as a popular medicinal plant in many countries outweigh its adverse effects as a weed in agricultural and non-agricultural areas. The pharmacological and medicinal properties of the plant as an analgesic, a relaxant, retroviral, and retrobacterial agent have been exploited to cure hepatitis, kidney, urinary, bladder and other ailments. P. urinaria is an alternative host of pests and diseases that could have economic impacts.

Environmental Impact

Top of pageThere is no published information available on the environmental impact due to the presence of P. urinaria either in agricultural or non-agricultural lands.

Social Impact

Top of pageP. urinaria is prevalent as a weed in rice, maize and many other economic crops, reducing crop growth and yields; weeding is therefore an important and necessary post-planting activity among farmers. Weeding of course reduces the time farmers would otherwise have available for other social or economic activities.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page

Impact mechanisms

  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Pest and disease transmission

Impact outcomes

  • Negatively impacts agriculture

Invasiveness

  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc

Likelihood of entry/control

  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

Top of pageAs in many species of Phyllanthus, P. urinaria is said to possess medicinal properties (Ridley, 1897, 1906; Burkill and Haniff, 1930). For example, Burkill (1935) claimed that a little juice of P. urinaria on a bit of cloth may be used to clean a child's tongue, or the juice of a few leaves in coconut milk may be given to stimulate a child's appetite. Further, extracts taken internally are good at stimulating the kidneys. Ridley (1897) reported that the Malays used P. urinaria and P. niruri vicariously, internally for diarrhoea, kidney ailments, gonorrhoea, and syphilis; as an emmenagogue, and after miscarriage and childbirth, or young leaves for coughs, especially in children. Recent studies by Nor Azizah (2002) demonstrated an inhibitory effect of extracts of Phyllanthus spp., including P. urinaria, on the formation and subsequent aggregation of oxalate crystals in kidneys, perhaps supporting the earlier belief among Malays that P. urinaria and P. niruri can be used against kidney ailments. Pounded leaves and stems of P. urinaria and P. niruri were applied to the head for vertigo after a child's birth in British Malaya (Burkill and Haniff, 1930). Chinese herbalists stock Phyllanthus plants in the Malay Peninsula.

In the Philippines, Pancho and Obien (1995) noted that 50-100 g of fresh plants of P. urinaria or P. debilis prepared in aqueous solution is said to cure hepatitis and kidney infection. The leaf concoction is considered to be a panacea, containing a bitter phyllanthin, although it can be poisonous when consumed in large quantities. Burkill (1935) claimed that P. urinaria, like P. debilis, contained phyllanthin and saponin; both chemicals are also used as a fish poison. P. urinaria is also rich in flavonoids, namely astragalin, isoquercitrin, quercetin, and rutin (Tea et al., 1977). Intriguingly, P. urinaria like P. debilis, is a plant of magic in the Malay Peninsula, chewed by tricksters before chewing glass (Ridley, 1897). The plant contains much potassium, producing diuretic effects. In Indonesia, the plant is used against fever, dysentery, gonorrhoea, and syphilis, and is an abortifacient (Soerjani et al., 1987). Bagchi et al. (1992) and Ahmed (1998) among others, reported the pharmacological properties of P. urinaria in India with plants used extensively as a diuretic and to treat dysentery.

Perhaps the most promising use of P. urinaria is its medicinal values, as shown by several detailed studies focusing primarily on biochemical extracts and their pharmacological properties. P. urinaria was found to have anti-viral qualities (Yang et al., 1987; Unander and Blumberg, 1991; Bagchi et al., 1992; Cruz et al., 1994; Mi et al., 1995; Prakash et al., 1995; Suthienkul et al., 1995; Liu et al., 1999; Kim et al., 1999; Jikai et al., 2000) and to be effective against bacteria and other pathogens (Cruz et al., 1994; Direkbusarakom et al., 1997; Lin et al., 1999). Extracts were found that could be used to treat liver and kidney ailments (Prakash et al., 1995; Satyan et al., 1995; Hartini, 2002; Lo, 2002; Zuraihan, 2002) while antinociceptive or analgesic chemicals were also isolated (Dias et al., 1995; Santos et al., 1995; Satyan et al., 1995).

Dias et al. (1995) reported that hydroalcoholic extracts caused graded contractions of guinea pig urinary bladders, while Santos et al. (1995) found them to have analgesic effects. Lo (2002) carried out detailed studies showing the effectiveness of extracts of P. urinaria and P. niruri to arrest liver damage in mice. Extracts of Phyllanthus spp., including P. urinaria and P. niruri, were also shown to have significant anti-cancer activity (Zuraihan, 2002). Hartini (2002) demonstrated the dose-dependent activities of extracts of P. urinaria on the fertility of mice, with 0.1 g/kg of body weight, the orally administered extracts of P. urinaria promote embryo production, whereas at 5 g/kg of body weight the extracts function as an anti-fertility agent.

Anti-bacterial activity of P. urinaria against pathogenic bacteria, such as Aeromonas hydrophila, Streptococcus sp. and strains of Vibrio spp. in fish and shrimp, were reported by Direkbusarakom et al. (1997). In Brazil, Cruz et al. (1994) demonstrated similar activity against a range of common human dietary diseases. The results of this study support the traditional use of this medicinal plant in the treatment of urinary infections.

Uses List

Top of page

Materials

  • Poisonous to fish

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of pageP. urinaria is quite similar to other Phyllanthus species, notably P. debilis, P. amarus and P. niruri. P. urinaria is noted for its dark crimson-coloured stem. In contrast, P. debilis is green in colour, also glabrous, angular and with patent branches resembling a pinnate leaf. Despite distinct differences in the pollen structures of P. urinaria as compared to P. debilis and P. niruri, similarities prevail in the anatomical structures of leaves, stem, and roots of P. niruri, P. debilis and P. urinaria (Aniadila, 2002). However, Soerjani et al. (1987) distinguish P. urinaria from P. debilis Klein ex. Willd. (the correct name for the widespread Asian weed usually known as 'P. niruri') on the basis that P. debilis has perianth pale (v. yellowish-white), anthers horizontally dehiscent (v. vertically), fruit smooth (not warty), on a pedicel 1.5-2.0 mm long, thickended at the apex (v. 0.5-1.0 mm long, thickened throughout) and seeds longitudinally ribbed. P. urinaria can be distinguished from P. amarus and P. fraternus by its verrucose capsules and the absence of fibre cells in branchlets (Bagchi et al., 1992). P. virginatus is distinguished from other species by its prostrate habit and the presence of starch grains in the parenchymatous cells. P. amarus has bisexual cymules with 5 calyx lobes and druse lobes, though druse crystals are absent.

Prevention and Control

Top of pageMechanical Control

Tillage and land preparation techniques can be used to control P. urinaria in rice (Soerjani et al., 1987) and cotton (Li et al., 1989). Manual weeding eliminates P. urinaria effectively in rice (Soerjani et al., 1987).

Chemical Control

Soerjani et al. (1987) advocated the use of MSMA + 2,4-D + sodium chlorate at 4-week intervals to effectively control P. urinaria in rice in Indonesia. Further post-emergence control with propanil was also suggested. Sequential applications of paraquat or paraquat with monuron or diuron, or amitrole-paraquat during land preparation, and non-crop situations, were equally effective against the weed. Two sequential applications of prodamine provided the longest and most consistent pre-emergent control based on percentage cover (reduced to 10%) and dry weight of the weed (reduced by 30%) at two sites in Florida, USA (Norcini et al., 1995). Other herbicides providing excellent control of P. urinaria were dithiopyr and the pre-formulated combination of isoxaben and oryzalin. Wehtje et al. (1992) reported that pre-emergence applications of either granular oxadiazon or pre-mixed granular oxyfluorfen + oryzalin provided ca. 85% control of the weed. Post-emergence treatments with paraquat, glyphosate, oxyfluorfen, and acifluorfen provided at least 90% control of the weed.

Integrated Control

Li et al. (1989) undertook integrated control of P. urinaria along with other annual and perennial weeds in cotton. The control measures include the integration of zero tillage, late sowing, close planting and herbicide applications. Herbicides include glyphosate, fluometuron, and butachlor, applied in the first 3 years of cotton crops. No herbicide was applied in the last 4 years out of the 7-year crop cycle. Very few plants of P. urinaria emerged in the first 3 years under zero tillage + late sowing regimes, or zero tillage + close planting + chemical weeding, or tillage + sparse planting + weeding between tillage. However, high incidences of the weed were recorded in plots subjected to the zero tillage + close planting + chemical weeding regime, arguably due to its tolerance to shading by the cotton plants.

References

Top of page

Ahmed B, 1998. Medicinal properties of various species of Phyllanthus. Hamdard Medicus, 41(1):109-110.

Aniadila K, 2002. Comparative anatomy and palynology of five species of Phyllanthus - P. pulcher, P. myrtifolius, P. niruri, P. urinaria, and P. debilis. BSc Thesis. Penang, Malaysia: Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Anon, 2000. Chinese Colored Weed Illustrated Book. Weed Science Society of China, Beijing.

Bagchi GD, Srivastava GN, Singh SC, 1992. Distinguishing features of medicinal herbaceous species of Phyllanthus occurring in Lucknow district (U.P.) India. International Journal of Pharmacognosy, 30(3):161-168.

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Dias MA, Campos AH, Cechinel-Filho V, Yunes RA, Calixto JB, 1995. Analysis of the mechanisms underlying the contractile response induced by the hydroalcoholic extract of Phyllanthus urinaria in the guinea-pig urinary bladder in-vitro. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 47(10):846-851.

Direkbusarakom S, Ezura Y, Yoshimizu M, Herunsalee A, 1997. Efficacy of Thai traditional herb extracts against fish and shrimp pathogenic bacteria. Proc. International Symposium on diseases in Marine Aquaculture (Hiroshima), 437-441.

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Galinato MI, Moody K, Piggin CM, 1999. Upland rice weeds of South and Southeast Asia. Manila, Philippines: International Rice Research Institute.

Hartini R, 2002. Effects of Phyllanthus urinaria extracts on the fertility of mice (Mus domesticus domesticus). BSc Thesis. Penang, Malaysia: Universiti Sains Malaysia.

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Jikai L, Yue H, Henkel T, Weber K, Yue HA, 2002. One step purification of corilagin and ellagic acid from Phyllanthus urinara using high-speed countercurrent chromatography. Phytochemical Analysis, 13(1):1-3.

Kim TG, Han HM, Kang SY, Jung KK, Kim SH, 1999. Screening for some plant extracts for inhibitory activities on hepatitis B virus replication. Korean Journal of Pharmacognosy, 30(3):238-243.

Li P, Wang FY, Feng ML, Yang YR, 1989. Effect of integration of zero tillage, late sowing, close planting, and herbicide application on weed control in cotton. Proc. 12th Asian-Pacific Weed Science Society Conference (Seoul), (3):637-648.

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Liu KCSC, Lin MT, Lee SS, Chiou JF, Ren SJ, Lien EJ, Lin MT, 1999. Antiviral tannins from Phyllanthus species. Planta Medica, 65(1):43-46.

Lo YS, 2002. Effects of Phyllanthus spp. extracts on liver disease. BSc Thesis. Penang, Malaysia: Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Maithani GP, Bahuguna VK, Pyare L, 1986. Effect of forest fires on the ground vegetation of a moist deciduous sal (Shorea robusta) forest. Indian Forester, 112(8):646-678.

Masayu I, 1995. Weed communities in arable peat in MARDI Research Station, Pontian, Johore. BSc Thesis. Kuala Lumpar, Malasia: University of Malaya.

Mi ZB, Chen HS, Zhang XT, Shao XW, Li Z, Wu XM, 1995. Duck hepatitis B virus model for screening of antiviral agents from medicinal herbs. Chinese Medical Journal, 108(9):660-664.

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Distribution Maps

Top of page
Distribution map Bangladesh: Widespread, native, invasive
Moody, 1989Brunei Darussalam: Restricted distribution, native, not invasive
Moody, 1989Brazil: Restricted distribution, introduced, invasive
Cruz et al., 1994Bhutan: Present, native, not invasiveCameroon: Widespread, introduced, not invasive
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003China
See regional map for distribution within the countryChina
See regional map for distribution within the countryChina
See regional map for distribution within the countryChina
See regional map for distribution within the countryChina
See regional map for distribution within the countryChina
See regional map for distribution within the countryChina
See regional map for distribution within the countryChina
See regional map for distribution within the countryChina
See regional map for distribution within the countryChina
See regional map for distribution within the countryChina
See regional map for distribution within the countryChina
See regional map for distribution within the countryChina
See regional map for distribution within the countryChina
See regional map for distribution within the countryColombia: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Colombia: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Costa Rica: Widespread, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Costa Rica: Widespread, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Ecuador: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003French Guiana: Present, introduced
Bancilhon et al., 1979Guatemala: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Guatemala: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Honduras: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Honduras: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Indonesia: Present, native
USDA-ARS, 2003Indonesia: Present, native
USDA-ARS, 2003Indonesia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndonesia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndonesia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndonesia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndonesia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndonesia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndonesia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndonesia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndonesia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndia: Present, native
USDA-ARS, 2003India
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndia
See regional map for distribution within the countryIndia
See regional map for distribution within the countryJapan
See regional map for distribution within the countryJapan
See regional map for distribution within the countryJapan
See regional map for distribution within the countryCambodia: Present, native
USDA-ARS, 2003Korea, Republic of: Widespread, native, invasive
Kim et al., 1999Laos: Present, native
USDA-ARS, 2003Sri Lanka: Widespread, native, invasive
USDA-ARS, 2003Myanmar: Widespread, native, invasive
Moody, 1989Mexico: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Mexico: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Malaysia: Present, native
USDA-ARS, 2003Malaysia
See regional map for distribution within the countryMalaysia
See regional map for distribution within the countryMalaysia
See regional map for distribution within the countryNicaragua: Widespread, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Nicaragua: Widespread, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Nicaragua: Widespread, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Panama: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Panama: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Peru: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Philippines: Widespread, native, invasive
Moody, 1989; Pancho & Obien, 1995; USDA-ARS, 2003Philippines: Widespread, native, invasive
Moody, 1989; Pancho & Obien, 1995; USDA-ARS, 2003Puerto Rico: Present, introduced, invasive
USDA-NRCS, 2002Puerto Rico: Present, introduced, invasive
USDA-NRCS, 2002Seychelles: Present, native
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Suriname: Widespread, introduced, invasive
Segeren et al., 1984Suriname: Widespread, introduced, invasive
Segeren et al., 1984Thailand: Widespread, native, not invasive
Direkbusarakom et al., 1997Taiwan: Widespread, native, invasive
Yang et al., 1987; Lin et al., 1999; USDA-ARS, 2003Taiwan: Widespread, native, invasive
Yang et al., 1987; Lin et al., 1999; USDA-ARS, 2003USA: Restricted distribution, introduced, invasive
USDA-NRCS, 2002USA: Restricted distribution, introduced, invasive
USDA-NRCS, 2002USA
See regional map for distribution within the countryUSA
See regional map for distribution within the countryUSA
See regional map for distribution within the countryUSA
See regional map for distribution within the countryUSA
See regional map for distribution within the countryUSA
See regional map for distribution within the countryUSA
See regional map for distribution within the countryUSA
See regional map for distribution within the countryUSA
See regional map for distribution within the countryUSA
See regional map for distribution within the countryUSA
See regional map for distribution within the countryUSA
See regional map for distribution within the countryUSA
See regional map for distribution within the countryVenezuela: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Venezuela: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Vietnam: Widespread, native, invasive
Jeanplong, 1973; USDA-ARS, 2003
  • = Present, no further details
  • = Evidence of pathogen
  • = Widespread
  • = Last reported
  • = Localised
  • = Presence unconfirmed
  • = Confined and subject to quarantine
  • = See regional map for distribution within the country
  • = Occasional or few reports
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Distribution map (asia) Bangladesh: Widespread, native, invasive
Moody, 1989Brunei Darussalam: Restricted distribution, native, not invasive
Moody, 1989Bhutan: Present, native, not invasiveFujian: Restricted distribution, native, not invasive
Anon, 2000Guangdong: Restricted distribution, native, not invasive
Anon, 2000Guangxi: Present, native, not invasive
USDA-ARS, 2003Guizhou: Restricted distribution, native, not invasive
Jikai et al., 2002Hainan: Restricted distribution, native, not invasive
Anon, 2000Hubei: Restricted distribution, native, not invasive
Anon, 2000; USDA-ARS, 2003Hebei: Present, native, not invasive
USDA-ARS, 2003Henan: Restricted distribution, native, not invasive
Anon, 2000Hunan: Restricted distribution, native, not invasive
Anon, 2000Shanxi: Present, native, not invasive
USDA-ARS, 2003Shaanxi: Present, native, not invasive
USDA-ARS, 2003Xinjiang: Present, native, not invasive
USDA-ARS, 2003Tibet: Present, native, not invasive
USDA-ARS, 2003Yunnan: Present, native
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Indonesia: Present, native
USDA-ARS, 2003Irian Jaya: Widespread, native, invasive
Soerjani et al., 1987; Moody, 1989Java: Widespread, native, invasive
Soerjani et al., 1987; Moody, 1989Kalimantan: Widespread, native, invasive
Soerjani et al., 1987; Moody, 1989Moluccas: Widespread, native, invasive
Soerjani et al., 1987; Moody, 1989Sulawesi: Widespread, native, invasive
Soerjani et al., 1987; Moody, 1989Sumatra: Widespread, native, invasive
Soerjani et al., 1987; Moody, 1989India: Present, native
USDA-ARS, 2003Andaman and Nicobar Islands: Widespread, native, invasive
Moody, 1989Andhra Pradesh: Restricted distribution, native, not invasive
Moody, 1989Arunachal Pradesh: Restricted distribution, native
Moody, 1989Assam: Restricted distribution, native, not invasive
Moody, 1989Bihar: Restricted distribution, native, not invasive
Moody, 1989Goa: Widespread, native, invasive
Moody, 1989Gujarat: Widespread, native, invasive
Moody, 1989Kerala: Restricted distribution, native, not invasive
Rao et al., 1970; Moody, 1989Karnataka: Restricted distribution, native, not invasive
Moody, 1989Maharashtra: Restricted distribution, native, not invasive
Satyan et al., 1995; Prakash et al., 1995Manipur: Restricted distribution, native, not invasive
Moody, 1989Madhya Pradesh: Restricted distribution, native, not invasive
Moody, 1989Odisha: Restricted distribution, native, not invasive
Moody, 1989Indian Punjab: Restricted distribution, native, not invasive
Moody, 1989; Ahmed, 1998Tamil Nadu: Widespread, native, invasive
Moody, 1989Tripura: Restricted distribution, native
Moody, 1989Uttar Pradesh: Restricted distribution, native, not invasive
Maithani et al., 1986; Maithani et al., 1986; Dogra et al., 1978; Moody, 1989; Bagchi et al., 1992West Bengal: Widespread, native, invasive
Moody, 1989Honshu: Present, native, not invasive
USDA-ARS, 2003Kyushu: Present, native, not invasive
USDA-ARS, 2003Shikoku: Present, native, not invasive
USDA-ARS, 2003Cambodia: Present, native
USDA-ARS, 2003Korea, Republic of: Widespread, native, invasive
Kim et al., 1999Laos: Present, native
USDA-ARS, 2003Sri Lanka: Widespread, native, invasive
USDA-ARS, 2003Myanmar: Widespread, native, invasive
Moody, 1989Malaysia: Present, native
USDA-ARS, 2003Peninsular Malaysia: Widespread, native, invasive
Baki et al., 1997; Ridley, 1924; Burkill, 1935; Moody, 1989Sabah: Widespread, native, invasive
Moody, 1989Sarawak: Widespread, native, invasive
Moody, 1989Philippines: Widespread, native, invasive
Moody, 1989; Pancho & Obien, 1995; USDA-ARS, 2003Thailand: Widespread, native, not invasive
Direkbusarakom et al., 1997Taiwan: Widespread, native, invasive
Yang et al., 1987; Lin et al., 1999; USDA-ARS, 2003Vietnam: Widespread, native, invasive
Jeanplong, 1973; USDA-ARS, 2003
Distribution map (europe)
Distribution map (africa) Cameroon: Widespread, introduced, not invasive
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Seychelles: Present, native
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003
Distribution map (north america) Guatemala: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Honduras: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Mexico: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Nicaragua: Widespread, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Puerto Rico: Present, introduced, invasive
USDA-NRCS, 2002USA: Restricted distribution, introduced, invasive
USDA-NRCS, 2002Alabama: Widespread, introduced, invasive
Wehtje et al., 1992; USDA-NRCS, 2002Arkansas: Present, introduced, invasive
USDA-NRCS, 2002Florida: Widespread, introduced, invasive
Wehtje et al., 1992; Norcini et al., 1995; USDA-NRCS, 2002; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Georgia: Present, introduced, invasive
USDA-NRCS, 2002Illinois: Present, introduced, invasive
USDA-NRCS, 2002Louisiana: Present, introduced, invasive
USDA-NRCS, 2002; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Mississippi: Present, introduced, invasive
USDA-NRCS, 2002North Carolina: Present, introduced, invasive
USDA-NRCS, 2002South Carolina: Present, introduced, invasive
USDA-NRCS, 2002Tennessee: Present, introduced, invasive
USDA-NRCS, 2002Texas: Widespread, introduced, invasive
Wehtje et al., 1992; USDA-NRCS, 2002Virginia: Present, introduced, invasive
USDA-NRCS, 2002
Distribution map (central america) Colombia: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Costa Rica: Widespread, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Guatemala: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Honduras: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Mexico: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Nicaragua: Widespread, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Panama: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Puerto Rico: Present, introduced, invasive
USDA-NRCS, 2002Suriname: Widespread, introduced, invasive
Segeren et al., 1984USA: Restricted distribution, introduced, invasive
USDA-NRCS, 2002Florida: Widespread, introduced, invasive
Wehtje et al., 1992; Norcini et al., 1995; USDA-NRCS, 2002; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Venezuela: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003
Distribution map (south america) Brazil: Restricted distribution, introduced, invasive
Cruz et al., 1994Colombia: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Costa Rica: Widespread, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Ecuador: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003French Guiana: Present, introduced
Bancilhon et al., 1979Nicaragua: Widespread, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Panama: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Peru: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003Suriname: Widespread, introduced, invasive
Segeren et al., 1984Venezuela: Present, introduced
Missouri Botanical Garden, 2003
Distribution map (pacific) Indonesia: Present, native
USDA-ARS, 2003Irian Jaya: Widespread, native, invasive
Soerjani et al., 1987; Moody, 1989Kalimantan: Widespread, native, invasive
Soerjani et al., 1987; Moody, 1989Sulawesi: Widespread, native, invasive
Soerjani et al., 1987; Moody, 1989Philippines: Widespread, native, invasive
Moody, 1989; Pancho & Obien, 1995; USDA-ARS, 2003Taiwan: Widespread, native, invasive
Yang et al., 1987; Lin et al., 1999; USDA-ARS, 2003