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Flowers. Copyright G. Sankowsky
Habit, leaves and flower. Copyright G. Sankowsky
Herbarium specimen. Copyright CSIRO
Scientific NameCommelina diffusa Burm.f.
Burman, N.L. (1768) Fl. Ind. : 18, t.7, f.2.
Sprawling fleshy herb with ascending branches up to 75 cm tall, rooting at the nodes.
Inflorescence enclosing bracts green. Inner perianth segments pale to bright blue Lower cincinnus with 2-4 flowers, upper cincinnus with 1- several flowers. Upper cincinnus bears only male flowers and has a longer peduncle, while the lower cincinnus bears bisexual flowers on a shorter peduncle. The pedicels are thick and curved and 3-5 mm. The membranous sepals are inconspicuous, 3-4 mm ilong. The upper two petals are 4.2-6 mm. The anther connective (i.e. the tissue connecting the two halves of the anther) of the centre-most stamen has a broad transverse band of violet. The spathes solitary, borne on a peduncle and typically falcate with a cordate to rounded base, acuminate apices and can be either glabrous or hispidulous beneath, 0.8-2.5 cm long, but may be as short as 0.5 cm and as long as 4 cm. Peduncles 0.5-2 cm long.
Features not available.
Distribution and Ecology
Occurs in NT, CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards to southern New South Wales. Altitudinal range from sea level to 1090 m. Occurs in a wide range of vegetation types from rainforest to wooded grassland. Also occurs in tropical Asia eastwards to Polynesia, including Hawaii.
Natural History & Notes
Juice being used to cure wounds, for inflamed eyes, as part of an external remedy for bone fracture and as a digestive aid (Smith 1979).
Women rub their hair with it in the Torres Strait area (Lawrie s.n.)
Within China it is used as a medicinal herb with febrifugal and diuretic properties. A dye is also obtained from the juice of the petals for use in painting.
Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
CC-BY Australian Tropical Herbarium unless otherwise indicated in the images.