Characteristics of Punarnava Plants (Boerhavia diffusa) in the Wild

Boerhavia diffusa
Punarnava or Tarvine (Boerhavia diffusa) is a species of flowering plant known for its medicinal properties and consumption as a vegetable in many parts of India. In English, this plant is called Red spiderling or Spreading hogweed.

Punarnava plants are scattered throughout India, the Pacific, and the southern United States. It grows as a perennial, multi-branched vine with sturdy fused roots.

Traditional Use
The plant punarnava has anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties, it is said to be a good remedy for Amavata (a disease in which the reduction of Vata Dosha and accumulation of Ama occurs in the joints, and simulates rheumatoid arthritis).

The root acts as an anticonvulsant, analgesic, laxative which when rubbed with honey can be applied locally for cataracts, chronic conjunctivitis, and blepharitis.

Punarnavaa plants are useful for curing heart disease, anemia, and edema.

Punarnava is effective for reducing swelling and bad smell in skin disorders. Apart from the roots, the leaves are also consumed as a vegetarian dish to reduce edema.

As an Ayurvedic medicine, the herb punarnava is said to treat disorders such as intestinal colic, kidney problems, coughs, hemorrhoids, skin diseases, alcoholism, insomnia, eye disease, asthma, and jaundice.

In Sri Lanka, the punarnava plant is known as Pita Sudu and is popular as one of the best medicinal plants to treat diabetes.

 

Characteristics of Punarnava Leaf

Boerhavia diffusa Leaf
Source: flickr.com/Shubhada Nikharge

The leaves are opposite, oblique, ovate or oval, slightly pink, wavy, small white scaly underside, and rounded base.

 

Characteristics of Punarnava Flower

Boerhavia diffusa Flower
Source: flickr.com/Dinesh Valke

Punarnava flowers are funnel-shaped extremities, pink to dark red, have 2-3 stamens, with 5 outer vertical bands.

 

Characteristics of Punarnava Fruit

Boerhavia diffusa Fruit
Source: flickr.com/penati.rodrigo

The fruit is round, small, 6 stripes, very sticky, and grows a few cm from the ground.

 

Characteristics of Punarnava Plants

Boerhavia diffusa Plants
Source: flickr.com/Dinesh Valke

The plant grows vines and has many branches with strong roots. The branches split open, the stems are purplish and thicken at the nodes.

Punarnava is widespread in most of the world and has naturalized in many places including Africa, Asia, North America, South America, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific.

 

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