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Crassocephalum crepidioides - (Benth.) S.Moore

Common Name Okinawa Spinach, Redflower Ragleaf, Fireweed
Family Asteraceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats A weed in abandoned farm land, waste places, plantations and backyard gardens[ 299 ].
Range Through most of tropical Africa, it has become naturalised in many other parts of the Tropics.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Crassocephalum crepidioides Okinawa Spinach, Redflower Ragleaf, Fireweed

Pieter Pelser
Crassocephalum crepidioides Okinawa Spinach, Redflower Ragleaf, Fireweed
Vinayaraj wikimedia.org


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Okinawa Spinach, Crassocephalum crepidioides, is a tropical, upright, herb with thick and soft stem and alternate leaves. It makes an excellent spinach substitute. Its flowers are yellow and reddish and fruits are dark brown with long silky hairs at the end. It is commonly found in Papua New Guinea and in many other tropical countries. The leaves are used for indigestion, headaches, fresh wounds, nose bleeding, and sleeping sickness. The roots are used in the treatment of swollen lips. Aside from the medicinal uses, the leaves are also edible either raw or cooked. It is used as a vegetable. The roots are eaten with chilli sauce in Thailand. It may also be known as Gynura crepioides (a Synonym)

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Crassocephalum crepidioides is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.8 m (2ft 7in) by 0.3 m (1ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Crassocephalum diversifolium Hiern Gynura crepidioides Benth. Gynura diversifolia Sch.Bip. ex Asch.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Root
Edible Uses:

A commercially cultivated vegetable. Leaves - raw or cooked. A distinctive, pine-like flavour[ 298 ]. The leaves are fleshy, somewhat mucilaginous with a nutty flavour[ 301 ]. The tender and succulent leaves and stems of ebolo are mucilaginous and are used as a vegetable in soups and stews, especially in West and Central Africa[ 299 ]. It is much appreciated for its special flavour, which is sharp but not bitter[ 299 ]. It is especially popular in south-western Nigeria. Here the leaves are lightly blanched, excess water is drained off, and the leaves are then cooked with peppers, onions, tomatoes, melon and sometimes fish or meat to make soups and stews[ 299 ]. In Sierra Leone the leaves are also popular and are made into a sauce with groundnut paste[ 299 ]. In Australia it is eaten as a salad green, either cooked or raw[ 299 ]. Roots - eaten with chilli sauce in Thailand[ 301 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Epilepsy  Skin  Stomachic

The leaves are used to treat indigestion[ 299 ]. The leaf sap is given to treat upset stomach[ 299 ]. A leaf lotion or decoction is used to treat headaches[ 299 ]. A mixture of the leaf sap, combined with Cymbopogon giganteus, is used orally and externally for the treatment of epilepsy[ 299 ]. Applied externally, the leaf sap is used as a treatment for fresh wounds[ 299 ]. The dried leaf powder is applied as a snuff to stop nose bleeding and smoked to treat sleeping sickness[ 299 ]. Tannin found in the roots of the plant is used to treat swollen lips[ 299 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Fodder  Repellent  Tannin

Agroforestry Uses: Crassocephalum crepidioides has been used successfully as a trap plant to collect adult corm weevils in banana plantations. Other Uses: Fodder/animal feed.

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Grows well in soils that are rich in organic matter[ 299 ]. An easy to grow vegetable, especially suited to shady localities in home gardens and tree plantations[ 299 ]. Often cultivated as a food crop in the tropics, the plant has light, plumed seeds that are easily distributed by the wind. It has escaped from cultivation in many areas and become an invasive weed in some places[ 305 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed and Cuttings.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Other common names are ebolo, redflower rag leaf, thickhead, and fireweed, Okinawa Spinach, Crassocephalum crepidioides. Also known as: Ebolo; fireweed; thickhead. Chinese: ye tong hao. Fiji: pua lele; se vuka. Indonesia: jukut jamalok. Japan: benibanaborogiku. Java: jewor; sintrong. Papua New Guinea: thick head. Philippines: bulak manok. Samoa: fua lele; vao lele. Thailand: phak pet maeo. Tonga: fisi puna. Other names: Agologolo, A ngung, Doyan-doyan, Ekinami, Gbuluh fuka, Guan dong weu niu, Hogegain, Impingi, Ingiri, Limbiti, Lisahuka, Marakapon, Miao kuo, Phak kaad chang, Phakkoat chaang, Rau tau bay, Sandeko, Udu daya, Voi ngoai, Wondally, Yaxiehu.

Africa, Angola, Asia, Australia, Benin, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central Africa, Central African Republic, CAR, Central America, China, Congo DR, Cote d'Ivoire, East Africa, East Timor, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, GuinŽe, Guinea-Bissau, Hawaii, India, Indochina, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kenya, Laos, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Norfolk Island, North America, Northeastern India, Pacific, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, SE Asia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Southern Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Tibet, Timor-Leste, Thailand, Tonga, Uganda, USA, Vanuatu, Vietnam, West Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Classified as one of the most aggressive weeds occurring in tropical and subtropical regions in the Global Compendium of Weeds.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(Benth.) S.Moore

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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