We have recently published ‘Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions’: i.e. tropical and sub-tropical regions. We rely on regular donations to keep our free database going and help fund development of this and another book we are planning on food forest plants for Mediterranean climates. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


Petiveria alliacea - L.

Common Name Guinea Hen Weed
Family Phytolaccaceae
USDA hardiness 9-12
Known Hazards The sharp spines of the fruit penetrate the skin readily and painfully if the plant is handled carelessly[469 ]. The plant can accumulate nitrates and has caused nitrate poisoning in cattle[299 ].
Habitats A weed of semi-shaded roadsides and rough, well-drained, undisturbed ground at elevations from near sea level to 360 metres in Jamaica[426 ].
Range S. America - Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, north through S. America to the Caribbean and Florida, through Central America to Mexico and Texas.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Petiveria alliacea Guinea Hen Weed

Petiveria alliacea Guinea Hen Weed


Translate this page:


Petiveria alliacea or Guinea Hen Weed is a flowering species native to United States, Mexico, Central America, the Carribean, and tropical South America. It is a herbaceous shrub that grows up to 1 m tall, with deep root system and small green flowers. The roots and leaves have pungent odor similar to that of garlic's. There is no known edible use of this plant but it is a known medicinal plant for the treatment of fever, diarrhea, headaches, earaches, and other wide range of conditions. It has anti cancer, pain relieving, anti microbial, and anti inflammatory properties. The leaves can be used as an insecticide. Other common names include anamu, tipi, apacin, mucura, guine, feuilles ave, here aux pools, petevere a odeur ail, maturate, and gully root.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Petiveria alliacea is an evergreen Perennial growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) 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), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Petivera foetida Salisb. Petiveria foetida Salisb. Petiveria hexandria Sess? & Moc. Petiveria ochrol

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

None known

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.
Abortifacient  Acrid  Anodyne  Antiasthmatic  Antibacterial  Antidiarrhoeal  Antifungal  Antiinflammatory  
Antirheumatic  Antiseptic  Antispasmodic  Antitumor  Cancer  Diuretic  Febrifuge  
Odontalgic  Tonic

A popular medicinal herb in the tropics, its pungent, garlic-like aroma (which is due to the presence of sulphur compounds) at least in part accounting for this popularity[238 ]. All the parts are excessively acrid; chewing a small portion of the leaves is said to render the tongue as dry and black and rough as it appears in cases of malignant fever[460 ]. The whole plant is used, or the leaves and roots separately[238 ]. Many biologically active compounds have been isolated from all parts of the plant, the most important ones being sulphur compounds, but flavonoids, triterpenes and steroids have also been identified[299 ]. The sulphur-containing compounds are similar to the odour compounds in garlic and onion, but in the latter they have alkyl instead of benzyl parts[299 ]. Water, methanol and ethanol extracts of the whole plant have been shown to slow the growth of leukaemia cells and several other strains of cancerous tumour cells in vitro. The water extracts were toxic to leukaemia, lymphoma and several other cancer cell lines[299 ]. Water extracts of the whole plant have been shown to stimulate the immune system[299 ]. The hexane and cyclohexane extracts of leaves and stems increased the phagocytotic index of human granulocytes. One of the active immunomodulatory compounds present in the extracts was dibenzyl-trisulfide[299 ]. A crude extract of the whole plant has shown a protective effect on blood cells infected with the pathogenic bacterium Listeria monocytogenes[299 ]. Root extracts have shown significant anti-inflammatory effects, as well as a significant pain-relieving effect[299 ]. Many clinical reports and studies confirm that the extracts of the aerial parts and roots have significant broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties in vitro and in vivo against numerous strains of bacteria, viruses, protozoa, fungi and yeast[299 ]. The crude water extracts perform in a similar way to the alcohol extracts[299 ]. The whole plant is a pungent herb that is said to be abortifacient, antiseptic, antispasmodic, diuretic and febrifuge. It is believed to calm the nerves, control diarrhoea and stimulate the uterus[238 ]. The plant is used in the treatment of a range of conditions. It is taken internally to treat nervous spasms, paralysis, hysteria, asthma, whooping cough, pneumonia, bronchitis, hoarseness, fevers, headaches, influenza, cystitis, venereal diseases and menstrual complaints[238 ]. Taken externally, the plant is used to treat earaches, fever and headaches[238 ]. It is said that a vapour bath or fumigation of the plant can restore motion to paralysed limbs[460 ]. The roots are used as a remedy for toothache, and it has also been used to procure an abortion[460 ]. A leaf maceration is applied to the belly to induce contractions in case of difficult delivery[299 ]. The liquid from the leaves is instilled as nose or eye drops to cure violent headache, and as nose drops to cure sinusitis[299 ]. A bath or vapour bath with a leaf decoction is taken in case of oedema[299 ]. A leaf decoction is applied to abscesses, and is used as an analgesic against muscular pain and to treat skin diseases.[299 ]. An infusion of pounded bark is drunk to treat colic, rheumatism, cancer, syphilis, colds, fever, bronchitis and asthma. Colombians chew the leaves to coat their teeth and prevent caries[299 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Tropical Plants

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Temperate Plants

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital media.
More Books

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital formats. Browse the shop for more information.

Shop Now

Other Uses

Insecticide  Repellent

The roots are placed among woollen goods to protect them from insects[469 ]. The leaves are used as an insecticide[299 ]. The leaf extract, and dibenzyl-trisulfide isolated from the roots, have shown significant acaricidal activity against the tick Boophilus microplus when topically applied, and this activity is in general higher than commercial acaricides such as dimethoate, lindane and carbaryl[299 ]. Dibenzyl-trisulfide was also highly toxic to adult sweet potato weevil (Cylas formicarius elegantulus) and adult coffee borer beetle (Hypothenemus hampei)[299 ]. The leaf extract showed significant antifeedant activity in the grasshopper Zonocerus variegatus, as well as allelopathic activity on germinating seed[299 ].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a rich, moist soil and a position in partial shade[238 ]. The plant has become established in many areas outside its native range in tropical Africa and Asia[426 ]. Flowering Time: Late Spring/Early Summer Mid Summer Late Summer/Early Fall Mid Fall. Bloom Color: White/Near White.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

Shop Now

Plant Propagation

Seed - Cuttings of half-ripe wood[238 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

"Guinea Hen Weed, amurru, anamu, anamú, apacin, apacina, calaj’chin, calaschi, calauchín, congo root, congoroot, douvant-douvant, emboayembo, embya-yendo, erva de guiná, erva de pipi, erva de tipi, erva d´alho, fits bush, fitsy bush, garlic weed, garlicweed, guine, guinea hen, guinea henweed, guinea-hen weed, guinea-hen-plant, guinea-hen-weed, guiné, gully root, gullyroot, herbe aux poules, hierba de las gallinitas, hierba del zorrillo, hoja de zorrillo, kiski sakbatkira, mucura , mucura-caá, mukura hembra, mukura macho, ocoembo, petiveria tetrandra, pimentón, pipi, pipi root, pipí, skunk root, skunkroot, skunkweed, sorill, strongman's-weed, surua, tipi, zorillo, zorrillo. "

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.

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



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.

Readers comment

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Petiveria alliacea  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.