Acmella oleracea L. Acmella oleracea is not known from the wild. Jansen, a species native to Peru and Brazil. It must have been in cultivation for a considerable time and has spread throughout the tropics.
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Acmella oleracea L. Acmella oleracea is not known from the wild. Jansen, a species native to Peru and Brazil. It must have been in cultivation for a considerable time and has spread throughout the tropics. It is locally cultivated throughout Africa and escapes from cultivation have been reported. In East Africa it has become naturalized. It was probably introduced in the Indian Ocean Islands by the Portuguese and subsequently spread in East Africa by Indian labourers who came to work on railroad construction around The raw leaves are used as a flavouring for salads, soups and meats in Brazil and India.
It is grown widely as an ornamental because of the attractive colourful heads. The most common and widespread medicinal use is to treat toothache and throat and gum infections. Worldwide the flower heads are used either fresh or dried and powdered, but the use of roots and leaves has been recommended as well.
The plant is further recommended as a cure for dysentery and rheumatism, and to enhance the immune system. It is used against blood parasites, especially against malaria, both prophylactic and curative.
Data on nutritional composition are not available. Raw Acmella leaves and flower heads have a pungent taste; they cause numbing of the mouth when chewed and induce the production of saliva. This sensation may be attributed to the alkylamide fraction. The flower heads contain up to 1. Spilanthol is effective at very low concentrations against blood parasites. It is a poison for most invertebrates, but is said to be harmless to warm-blooded animals. In-vitro studies have shown strong antibacterial activity against Escherichia , Klebsiella , Proteus , Pseudomonas , Salmonella and Staphylococcus.
Also Candida albicans is inhibited. Use as an insecticide has proved effective against e. Aedes , Anopheles and Culex mosquitoes and corn earworm Helicoverpa zea. Acmella is a pantropical genus of about 30 species, with 2 of these native to tropical Africa, and 2 introduced.
Most Acmella species were formerly considered to belong to the genus Spilanthes. The 2 native species, Acmella caulirhiza Delile synonym: Spilanthes mauritianus auct. Acmella caulirhiza can be distinguished from Acmella oleracea by the presence of ray flowers. Acmella uliginosa has a 4-merous corolla. As an escape from cultivation Acmella oleracea is found in weedy habitats. Naturalized populations are usually found in wet localities such as lakeside marshes. It is sold in markets in Madagascar throughout the year with peak supplies from November—March.
As an ornamental it is propagated by seed or by cuttings taken from plants in the vegetative phase. It needs frequent watering. As Acmella oleracea is widely grown, and is naturalized in parts of East Africa, it is certainly not threatened. It would be worthwhile documenting the cultivation practices, characteristics and properties of Acmella oleracea grown in the Indian Ocean islands.
Acmella oleracea and its wild ancestor Acmella alba are interesting for further research on medicinal potential, especially concerning activity against blood parasites other than malaria. The research community should be made aware of the updated nomenclature in the genera Acmella and Spilanthes to avoid replication of research findings, doubtful identifications and the use of incorrect names. Bosch, C.
Plant Resources of Tropical Africa Introduction.
Plant of the Week: Acmella oleracea Eyeball Plant, Toothache Plant
Acmella oleracea is a species of flowering herb in the family Asteraceae. Common names include toothache plant , paracress , Sichuan buttons , buzz buttons ,  tingflowers and electric daisy. A small, erect plant, it grows quickly and bears gold and red inflorescences. It is frost-sensitive but perennial in warmer climates. For culinary purposes, small amounts of shredded fresh leaves are said to add a unique flavour to salads. Cooked leaves lose their strong flavour and may be used as leafy greens. They are combined with chilis and garlic to add flavor and vitamins to other foods.
Common names are the entry point for most people learning about plants. The plant with these alluring names is Acmella oleracea, that I will call eyeball plant. Eyeball plant is one of about 30 species of annual and tender-perennial herbs of the daisy family originally native to South America, with this species probably native to Brazil. The commonly grown ray-less flower form is not known in the wild. The cultivated plant that now grows everywhere in the tropics of the Southern Hemisphere and warmer parts of Asia was probably introduced to the Indian Ocean Islands by Portuguese seamen in early times. Its distribution throughout much of its current range probably is a result of laborers distributing it during the railroad building boon at the close of the 19 th century.
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