Punarnava (Boerhavia diffusa) is an evergreen perennial herb that grows up to 1 m tall. It has vigorous, many-branched stems growing from the base, prostrate when young, ascending to erect when blooming, fleshy, green, often flushed with red, glabrescent to short or long hairy with multicellular hairs, often glandular, especially around the swollen nodes. The inflorescences occur at the end of branches, are forked about three to six times, sometimes with sticky internodal bands. The branches are divergent, terminating in compact sub-umbellate or capitate, 2-5-flowered clusters. The Blossoms have stalk shorter than 0.5 mm. Bract at the base of the flower tube quickly deciduous, lancelike. Blossoms are purplish-red to reddish-pink or nearly white, bell-shaped beyond the constriction. Stamens 2-3, are inside the flower or barely protruding out. Young leaves and shoots of Punarnava are cooked and used as a vegetable.
Species: B. diffusa
Scientific Name: Boerhavia diffusa
Common Names: Punarnava, Red spiderling, Horse Purslane, Spreading hogweed, or Tarvine.
Hindi: Gadahpurna, Biskhapara , Gadha-cand, Shothagni
Tamil: Mookkaratti, Saarai, Mukkurttaikkoti, Sarandai, Sukuaetti.
Telugu: Atakamamidi, Punar-nava
Sanskrit: Shothagni, Varshabhu, Punarnava
It thrives best full sun or partial shade. Some direct morning sunlight is fine, but avoid strong summer sunlight which can scorch its leaves.
It grows well in rich, organic, well-drained soil. It is drought tolerant.
It prefers normal room temperatures between 60°F – 75°F / 16°C – 24°C.
Water regularly, keep the soil evenly moist spring through fall. Reduce watering in winter, allow the top one inch of soil to dry out between waterings.
Fertilize with a balanced slow-release fertilizer with minor elements every 6 months.
It can be easily propagated by seeds or cuttings.
Pests and Diseases:
Punarnava plant has no serious pest and disease problems. Watch for aphids, whitefly, mealybugs, spider mites, or scale. Overwatering may cause rots.
- Punarnava (Boerhavia diffusa) is one of the most popular medicinal plants. Has most promising pharmacological activities include antifibrinolytic, immunosuppressive, diuretic, hepatoprotective, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, immunomodulatory, antilympho proliferative, analgesic properties, and also for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis.
- Boerhavia diffusa herb is said to cure disorders like intestinal colic, kidney disorders, cough, hemorrhoids, skin diseases, alcoholism, insomnia, eye diseases, asthma, and jaundice.
- Boerhavia diffusa possesses hepatoprotective property. It stimulates bile secretion which helps to keep the liver healthy and improves the function of the liver. It also effective in jaundice, ascites, and other liver diseases.
- It has a hypoglycemic property that helps to control glucose levels and also increases the plasma insulin levels.
- A decoction of the Punarnava leaves is used to treat jaundice. The leaves are used in a cataplasm for treating the indurated liver.
- The boiled roots are applied to ulcers, abscesses and to assist in the extraction of Guinea worm.
- The root can be used as an ipecacuanha substitute. Antispasmodic, very astringent, diuretic, emetic, emmenagogue, purgative and
sudorific herb, it can be used in a decoction to treat dysentery and a range of other conditions.
- Punarnava helps to fight obesity and helps to excrete extra body fluids from the body which is good for reducing obesity.