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Boerhavia diffusa - L.

Common Name Tar Vine, Red spiderling
Family Nyctaginaceae
USDA hardiness 8-11
Known Hazards None known
Habitats A pioneer of bare areas[154], usually found on dry sandy soils[193].
Range Australia - New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care (info)
Half Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Boerhavia diffusa Tar Vine, Red spiderling

Boerhavia diffusa Tar Vine, Red spiderling


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Spreading Hogweed or Boerhavia diffusa is a flowering plant used in Ayurveda. It is herbaceous and perennial. It grows up 70cm high and spreads up to 200 cm wide. It has slender, creeping and twinning stems. It is found throughout Asia, India, the Pacific, and southern United States. Its small, very sticky fruits that latch on to small migratory birds are considered to be of main factor for the wide dispersal of this species. It is used in traditional medicine as bitter, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, laxative and stomachic. It is also used as against snake bite and decoction of leaves is used against jaundice. Aborigines eat the roots of B. diffusa. Leaves and seeds are edible as well when cooked. The plant is drought and frost tolerant and can be grown from seed sowing. Other common names are red spiderling, wineflower, punarnava, and tarvine.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Boerhavia diffusa is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 9. It is in flower from June to September, and the seeds ripen from June to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


B. coccinea. B. repens. L.

Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds; South Wall. By. West Wall. By.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Root  Seed
Edible Uses:

Edible portion: Leaves, Root, Fruit, Seeds, (Caution) Vegetable. Root - eaten by the Aborigines of central Australia[ 46 ]. The root is long, thick and fleshy[ 266 , 304 ]. Leaves - cooked as a pot herb or added to soups[ 46 , 348 ]. Occasionally used as a vegetable[ 617 ]. Seeds - cooked[ 299 ]. Added to cereals[ 299 ].

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.
Antidote  Diuretic  Dysentery  Emetic  Expectorant  Laxative  Stomachic

Spreading hogweed is used in traditional medicine in several parts of its range, but is especially popular in India where it is a part of the Ayurvedic tradition. The whole herb, including the root, is used and it is said to be bitter, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, laxative and stomachic[ 46 , 304 ]. Research has shown the presence of an alkaloid, beta sitosterol and various other compounds in the roots[ 304 ] An alcohol extract of the whole plant has shown significant antiinflammatory activity, a cardiotonic effect, an increase in blood pressure, a relaxant effect and promising diuretic activity[ 304 ]. The plant is emetic and purgative[ 348 ]. It is used in the treatment of various conditions including gastric disturbances, asthma, jaundice, anascara, anaemia and internal inflammation[ 46 , 304 , 348 ]. It has also been used as an antidote to snake venom[ 304 ]. A decoction of the leaves is used to treat jaundice[ 46 , 348 ]. The leaves are used in a cataplasm for treating indurated liver[ 348 ]. The root can be used as an ipecacuanha (Carapichea ipecacuanha) substitute[ 348 ]. Antispasmodic, very astringent, diuretic, emetic, emmenagogue, purgative and sudorific herb, it can be used in a decoction to treat dysentery and a range of other conditions[ 348 ]. The boiled roots are applied to ulcers, abscesses and to assist in the extraction of Guinea worm[ 299 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


Boerhavia diffusa is recorded as a host for the virus causing aubergine mosaic disease (EMV); as a host of zucchini yellow mosaic polyvirus (ZYMV); and as an alternative host for the cotton aphid (Aphis gossypii)[299]. Yield losses attributed to these factors are difficult to determine. Fodder/animal feed, Forage.

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it could succeed outdoors at least in the milder parts of this country. It is hardy to at least -7°c in Australian gardens[157] but this cannot be translated directly to the British climate because our summers are cooler and our winters longer, colder and wetter. If the plant is capable of surviving our winters it is likely to need a sheltered very sunny position in a well-drained soil. Most if not all members of this genus have the same edible uses[193].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - we have no information on this species but suggest sowing the seed in a greenhouse in the spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Other common names are red spiderling, wineflower, punarnava, and tarvine.

Found In: Afghanistan, Africa, Asia, Australia (Not), Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China, Côte d'Ivoire, East Africa, Fiji, Gambia, Guiana, Guinea, Guinée, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Iran, Ivory Coast, Japan (Ryuku), Laos, Liberia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Northeastern India, Pacific, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, Rwanda, SE Asia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Southern Africa, South America, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Thailand, Tonga, Vietnam, West Africa, Yemen, 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.

B. diffusa is a fast-growing weed. Listed as invasive in Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Trinidad and Tobago, Hawaii, Japan and Cambodia where it is invading principally coastal and ruderal areas.

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.


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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

   Mon Dec 6 10:31:10 2004

pleasemention the photograph and original ref.acording to my knowledge this plant was first described by in kitabul hashaesh deosquredoos(70A ) d)

DR Fakhre Alam   Mon Dec 6 10:40:15 2004

ihave worked up on this plant and i have fond that this plant has good Hepato protective activty against ccl4 induced toxicity .

Vaidya .V.Manjunatha   Wed Oct 31 2007

Boerhavia diffusa is one of the antiviral & very much useful in kidney failures as per the traditional physicins experience & got cured with the only this plant juice & with the diet of cows milk & rice & no other diet is advisable upto six months. 100%result oriented one any body interested to make research consult me for further detils .

Frank S.   Mon Aug 18 2008

I would like more information from Vaidya. V. Manjunatha about curing kidney failure with boerhavia diffusa. My father's kidneys are failing. Any information you can give me would be greatly appreciated!

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