St Helena Hogweed
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St Helena Hogweed
P Native Photo: S. Kasim
Common name: St Helena Hogweed, St Helena Stars • Hindi: पुंगालियो Pungalio • Kannada: Madanike • Malayalam: Talutama, Tavilama • Sanskrit: पुनर्नवा Punarnava • Tamil: Mukkorri, Mukkuttikkodi, ucha • Tibetan: པུ་ན་རྣ་བ་pu-na-rna-ba • Telugu: gujju kanne-komali, gujjukannekomlai
Botanical name: Commicarpus helenae    Family: Nyctaginaceae (Bougainvillea family)
Synonyms: Boerhavia helenae, Boerhavia scandens, Boerhavia stellata

St Helena Hogweed is a branched straggling perennial herb. The species name is for Saint Helena, a volcanic tropical island in the South Atlantic Ocean, where it was first found. Stem is hairless, whitish green, young shoots finely velvet-hairy. Leaves are ovate to nearly round, 1.2-4 x 1-2.5 cm, wavy to sinuate, pointed or blunt, hairless to sparsely finely velvet-hairy, base wedge-shaped to somewhat heart-shaped. Leaf-stalks are up to 1.5 cm long. Inflorescence is rigid, lax. Flowers are small, about 6-6.5 mm long, pink or pinkish-red, 3-5 per node, superposed. Flower-stalks are 1-4 mm long, typically very short and stout. Fruit is 5.3-6 x 2 mm, club-shaped, tapering noticeably from tip to base; tip surrounded by 5 thinly, long (1-2 mm long) stalked glands alternating with 5 stalkless glands, 1 or 2 rings of stalkless glands on surface below tip; hairless. St Helena Hogweed is found in Africa, SW Asia to India.
Medicinal uses: In Kenya the sap of the plant is applied to heal wounds. It is also used in Ayurveda.

Identification credit: Surajit Koley Photographed in Palladam, Tamil Nadu.

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