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Scoparia dulcis - L.

Common Name Sweet Broom, Licorice Weed, Vassourinha
Family Plantaginaceae
USDA hardiness 8-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Moist thickets or along sandy stream beds, abundant in waste or cultivated ground, frequent about dwellings, at elevations up to 800 metres[331 ].
Range Originally from the American tropics, the plant is now naturalized throughout the tropics and subtropics.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care
Half Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Scoparia dulcis Sweet Broom, Licorice Weed, Vassourinha


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Scoparia dulcis Sweet Broom, Licorice Weed, Vassourinha
Dinesh Valke from Thane, India wikimedia.org

 

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Summary

Sweet Broom, Scoparia dulcis, is a tropical flowering herb growing up to 1 m tall with square stems and simple leaves. The white or pink flowers form singly or in clusters of two. Fruits are brown capsules containing brown seeds. It is considered a weed in many areas but used as medicinal herb for a wide range of uses including treatment for digestive problems, pulmonary conditions, fever, skin disorders, hypertension, hemorrhoids, diarrhea, dysentery, insect bites, anemia, albuminuria, diabetes, herpes, etc. Seed infusion can be drunk. The leaves are used to sweeten well water and for tea and young shoots can be consumed as vegetable. The bushy stems are used as temporary brooms. Fresh or dried plants reportedly kill fleas, lice, and intestinal worms. Plant can be grown from seeds.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Scoparia dulcis is a ANNUAL/PERENNIAL growing to 0.8 m (2ft 7in) by 0.3 m (1ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Capraria dulcis (L.) Kuntze Gratiola micrantha Nutt. Scoparia grandiflora Nash Scoparia nudicaulis C

Habitats

Edible Uses

An infusion of the seeds, obtained by soaking them in water overnight, is a cooling drink[310 ]. People place bunches of the branches in containers of drinking water, and claim that the water is thus kept cool, as if iced[331 ].

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.


Originally from the American tropics, sweet broom has spread as a weed throughout the tropics and been widely taken up as a medicinal herb wherever it goes. It has a very wide range of uses in tropical America where it is used to treat conditions such as digestive problems, pulmonary complaints, fevers and skin disorders,[348 ]. The plant is seen as an antibilious, antibiotic, antidote, aphrodisiac, bitter, blood purifier, emetic, febrifuge, hepatic, hypoglycaemic and stomachic[348 ]. The roots, leaves and tops are traditionally used in India, Indo-China and South-East Asia as an analgesic, diuretic and antipyretic, to treat gastric disorders such as diarrhoea and dysentery, and also for cough, bronchitis, hypertension, haemorrhoids and insect bites[310 ]. Research has shown that the plant contains a number of medically active compounds - the aerial parts contain about 4% of a viscous oil which, besides fatty acids like stearic, myristic and linolenic acid, also contains a series of diterpenes[310 ]. The aerial parts also yield nitrogen-containing components and flavonoids[310 ]. Scopadulin, a diterpene from the aerial parts, has shown mild antiviral activity[310 ]. The antiviral activity of scopadulciol, a tetracyclic diterpenoid, was found to inhibit the virus replication, as shown by reduction of virus production[310 ]. Scopadulcic acid B has been shown to have a tumour-inhibiting action and has also been shown to inhibit replication of herpes simplex virus type 1[310 ]. The fresh stems and leaves contain a compound called amellin, thought by some to have an important therapeutic action in diabetes; however, others doubt this[310 ]. Oral administration of amellin relieves symptoms of glycosuria, reduces hyperglycaemia and increases RBC count. It has also been found helpful in anaemia, albuminuria, ketonuria, retinitis and other complications associated with diabetes mellitus. Unlike insulin, amellin does not cause blood sugar levels to drop below normal and reduction of both blood and urine sugar occurs gradually[310 ]. In a clinical trial, 25 healthy people and 30 with gingivitis were given mouthwashes containing 1% aqueous extract of the plant or 0.02% chlorhexidine gluconate for 6 weeks. There was a slight increase in gingival inflammation in people with gingivitis using the extract, but the antiplaque activity was similar to that of 0.02% chlorhexidine[310 ]. The whole plant is used for treating a wide range of disorders including diabetes, herpes, coughs and colds, fevers, nausea, dizziness, and as an antidote for snakebites and cassava intoxication. In low doses, often in milk, it is used to relieve vomiting in infants, whilst in larger does it is used to induce vomiting to clear out the digestive system[348 ]. A decoction of the plant is drunk as a treatment for remittent fever and gonorrhoea, and also to induce labour[310 ]. A cold decoction of the plant is taken as a remedy for gravel and kidney complaints[310 , 348 ]. The fresh or dried plants are used externally to treat a wide range of skin problems, including pimples, impetigo, ulcers, eczema, bruises and contusions[310 , 348 ]. An infusion of the herb is used as a mouthwash for infected gums[310 ]. The leaves are chewed to treat cough; they first taste bitter and later sweet (like liquorice)[310 ]. They were formerly used in the treatment of diabetes[310 ]. The leaves are macerated in warm water and drunk copiously when cooled in the treatment of feverish headaches[310 ].

Other Uses

Agroforestry Uses: The plant is sometimes used as a sand binder[310 , 317 ]. Other Uses The bushy stems are much used to make temporary brooms for sweeping floors, and there is a belief that they destroy fleas[331 ]. The fresh or dried plants are said to kill fleas, lice and intestinal worms[310 ].

Cultivation details

A common weed of lowland tropical and subtropical areas, found in areas where it rains all year round and also where there is a prolonged dry season[310 ]. Succeeds in most soils[310 ]. This is one of the half dozen commonest weeds of Central America, and may be found almost anywhere in the lowlands[331 ]. Plants can flower and fruit all year round[310 ]. The plant is a probable host for the coconut-yellows-disease, caused by a mycoplasma-like organism[310 ]. Bloom Color: White/Near White. Spacing: 6-9 in. (15-22 cm).

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Propagation

Seed -

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

amarga, anisillo, bitter broom, bitter-broom, bonphula, broom weed, broomweed, brum sirpi, brum tahplira, chini jhar, chini mran, chinijhar, enugbe, escoba lisa, escobilla, famafantsambo, famafatsambo, flor de casamiento, gàng bén, haraspata, herbe du vent, herbe tourterelle, hiel de tierra, hierba de dolor, jamala koko, jiu yo, lerb divan, lerb toutrel, licorice weed, man, mirmire jhar, nang, nu bge, nyanko son somina, nyinanyina, oguan nkyene, onyame ko metiri, rauma fada, ri haráchan, rice weed, roma fada, salle jhar, scoparia-weed, shuoblo, shuobuolo, sirsaika, sur'prejsi, sweet broom, sweet-broom, tapeiçava, tapixaba, teatina, toothbrush, tupixava, vassourinha, vassourinha-doce, vassourinha-miúda, wild coriandum|wal koththamalli, wild rice, ñukñuk pichana.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

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

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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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