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Latin Names

Boerhaavia diffusa Linn. / Boerhaavia repens
Linn. (Nyctaginaceae)
English Names Spreading Hogweed Sanskrit NamePunarnava,
Rakta punarnava
Hindi NameLal Punarnava, Santh


It occurs abundantly as a weed throughout India, up to an altitude of 2,000 m in the Himalayas. It is also cultivated to some extent in West Bengal.

Morphology Description (Habit)

A diffusely branched, pubescent or glabrous, prostrate herb. The rootstock is stout, fusiform and woody; the stems are creeping, often purplish, swollen at the nodes; the leaves are long-petioled, ovate or oblong-cordate, entire or sinuate; the flowers are red, pink or white, in small umbels

; the fruits are ovate, oblong, pubescent, five-ribbed, glandular anthocarps.

Principal Constituents      

 The roots contain alkaloids (0.05%), triacontanol hentriacontane, ß-sitosterol, ursolic acid, 5,7-dihydroxy-3,4-dimethyoxy-6,8-dimethyl flavone, and an unidentified ketone (m p 86°). The roots contain the rotenoid boeravinones AI, BI, C2 , D, E and F beside

s the new dihydroisofurenoxanthin, borhavine and an antifibrinolytic agent, punarnavoside. Two lignans, liriodendrin and syringaresinol mono-ß-D-glucoside, have also been reported in the roots.


The chloroform and methanol extracts of the roots and aerial parts of B.diffusa exhibited hepatoprotective activity against carbontetrachloride intoxication in experimental rats. The rotenoid, steroid and flavone isolated from the plant exhibited lowering of enzyme GOT2.B.diffusa exhibits differential effects on the GABA levels in various regions of the brain of experimental rats.

The ethanol extract of B.diffusa (BDE) was administered daily in a dose of 250mg/kg, body weight p.o., to pregnant albino female rats during the entire period of gestation. BDE was found to be devoid of any teratogenic effect as litter size and survival rate of fetuses were the same as for the normal control group and no fetal anomaly could be detected4

The roots are credited with anti-convulsant, analgesic, alzative, laxative, and expectorant properties. They also have diuretic and hepatoprotective actions.

Spreading Hogweed is widely dispersed, occurring throughout India, the Pacific, and southern United States. This wide range is explained by its small fruit, which are very sticky and grow a few inches off the ground, ideally placed to latch on to small migratory birds as they walk by.
Spreading Hogweed is a reputed medicinal plant that energizes both the heart and the kidney. Hogweed plant is used in the preparation of pills, decoction and medicated ghee.

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