medicinal uses: Leaves or sap are used to treat fungal infections
such as ringworm. They contain a fungicide, chrysophanic acid. Because of
its anti-fungal properties, it is a common ingredient in soaps, shampoos
and lotions in the Philippines. The effectiveness of this plant against
skin diseases is confirmed by modern scientific studies.
Candle Bush, Gelenggang (Malay), Akapulko
The attractive shrub is named for its flower buds which grow in a
column and look like fat yellow candles each complete with a flame!
The leaves fold together at night. It was introduced to other tropical
areas from the Americas and is now widely considered a weed.
and wetland wildlife at
Sungei Buloh Nature Park
features: Grows up to 3m.
Leaves: Simple pinnate.
Flowers: Buds covered with
orange bracts which fall off when the flower opens.
Fruits: Black pod with two
broad wings; seeds small square and rattle in the pod
in Singapore: Introduced, common weed in wastelands.
World distribution: Native
to tropical Americas.
Classification: Family Leguminosae.
chemicals contained in the plant includes saponin which acts as a laxative
and expels intestinal parasites. In Africa, the boiled leaves are used to
treat high-blood pressure. In South America, besides skin diseases, it is
also used to treat a wide range of ailments from stomach problems, fever,
asthma to snake bite and venereal diseases (syphilis, gonorrhoea).
Role in the habitat: It is the food
plant of some butterflies. The plant recruits ant bodyguards against these
caterpillars. It has "extrafloral nectaries" near the base of the leaves,
that produce sweet nectar to attract ants. As a short-lived plant that grows
commonly in wastelands which are damp and on flood plains, it helps to colonise
these areas and pave the way for regeneration of growth.
Raintree online database of over 100 important rainforest medicinal
plants: a long list of worldwide ethnobotany uses, diagram.
Lee Ling's Homepage on College of Micronesia-FSM Federated States
of Micronesia: brief facts plus lots of nice photos.
description and traditional medicinal uses.
on the Mt. Banahaw Health Products Corporation website: medicinal uses.
- Ivan Polunin,
"Plants and Flowers of Singapore", Times Editions,
1987 (p. 99: description, habitat, distribution, photo).
- Wee Yeow Chin,
"A Guide to Medicinal Plants", BP Singapore Science
Centre, 1992 (p. 33: description, chemical compounds, uses, photo).