Bitter Leaf
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Bitter Leaf
P Introduced Photo: Amber Srivastava
Common name: Bitter Leaf, Bitter-tea vernonia
Botanical name: Vernonia amygdalina    Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower family)
Synonyms: Vernonia randii, Vernonia giorgii, Vernonia vogeliana, Vernonia weisseana

Bitter Leaf is a shrub or small tree. Leaves are lanceshaped to narrowly elliptic, usually about 4 times as long as wide, hairless or with sparse hairs; leaf-stalk short, up to 2 cm; net-veining prominent; margin entire or finely toothed. Flower-heads forming clusters up to 15 cm, creamy white, occasionally tinged with mauve; sweetly scented, particularly at night. The small fruits have both small glands and hairs as well as a pappus of bristly hairs. Bitterleaf is a highly appreciated vegetable in West and Central Africa and can be consumed in various dishes. Leaves are sometimes sold in the market after being shredded, parboiled and made into fist-sized balls. In Cameroon the processed leaves are cooked with meat and/or prawns mixed with ground peanuts to make a famous dish called ‘ndole’. Bitter Leaf is native to Africa.
Medicinal uses: Bitter Leaf is commonly used in traditional medicine. Leaf decoctions are used to treat fever, malaria, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis and cough, as a laxative and as a fertility inducer. They are also used as a medicine for scabies, headache and stomach-ache. Root extracts are also used as treatment against malaria and gastrointestinal disorders.

Identification credit: Amber Srivastava Photographed in BSI, Dehradun.

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