Family: Commelinaceae (dayflower family)
Genus: Commelina
Botanical name: Commelina benghalensis
Sanskrit: kanchata, kosapuspi, marishajalaja, paniya, tanduliya, vatspriya
Hindi: Kanchara, Kanteri, Kanuraka, Kaua-kaini
English: Indian dayflower, Tropical spiderwort, Wandering Jew
Malayalam: Vazapadati, Kanankolai, Kancatam
Indian dayflower can be an annual or perennial herb. Leaves are ovate to lancolate, 2.5-7.5cm long, 1.5-4cm wide, with parallel veination, entire leaf margins, and pubescence on top and bottom. The leaf sheath is covered in red and sometimes white hairs at the apex which is a primary identification factor for this species. Stems can be erect or crawling along the ground rooting at the nodes or climbing if supported, 10-30cm in height, 20-90cm in length, covered in a fine pubescence and dichotomously branched. Flowers are produced in spathes often found in clusters, funnel shaped, fused by two sides, 10-20 mm long, 10-15 mm wide, on peduncles 1-3.5 mm in length. Aerial flowers are staminate, perfect, and chasmogamous with 3 petals 3-4 mm long. The upper two flower petals are blue to lilac in colour, with the lower petal lighter in colour or white and much less prominent. Seeds are rectangular, 1.6-3 mm in length, 1.3-1.8 mm wide, brown to black in colour, and have a netted appearance.
In China, the plant is used medicinally as a diuretic, febrifuge and anti-inflammatory. In Pakistan it is used as animal fodder and also eaten by humans as a vegetable. It is also used there medicinally, but with different purported effects, including as a laxative and to cure inflammations of the skin as well as leprosy. The people of Nepal eat the young leaves as a vegetable, use a paste derived from the plant to treat burns, and treat indigestion with a juice produced from the roots. Its use as a famine food in India has been recorded. In Southeast Asia and Africa it is used as fodder and also medicinally as a poultice.
Commelina benghalensis
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