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Family Euphorbiaceae
Chenille plant
Acalypha hispida Burm. f.

Hong sui tie xian cai

Scientific names Common names
Acalypha densiflora Blume Buntot-pusa (Tag.)
Acalypha hispida Burm. F Bristly copperleaf (Engl.)
Acalypha hispida var. sanderi (N.E.Br.) J.J.Sm. Chenille plant (Engl.)
Acalypha sanderi N. E. Br. Monkey tail (Engl.)
Acalypha sanderi alba Sander Philippine medusa (Engl.)
Catarus spiciflorus L. Red cat's tail (Engl.)
Ricinocarpus hispidus (Burm. f.) Kuntze Red-hot cat tail (Engl.)
Ricinocarpus spiciflorus (L.) Kuntze  
Buntot-pusa is a shared common name of (1) Dysohylla auricularia(2) Pennisetum polystachum, foxtail (Engl.) and (3) Acalypha hispida, chenile plant
Acalypha hispida Burm.f. is an accepted species. KEW: Plants of the World Online

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Hong sui tia xian cai.
INDIA: Vatta poonthaliyari, Vattathali.
INDONESIAN: Buntut kuching, Tali anjing, Wunga tambang.
MALAYSIAN: Buntut kuching, Ekur kuching.
THAI: Mai porn, Haang krarok daeng, Huu plaa chon.
VIETNAMESE: Tai turong duoi chon, Tai turong xanh.

Gen info
- Acalypha is a genus of flowering plants in the family Euphorbiaceae. It is the sole genus of the subtribe Acalyphinae. It is one of the largest euphorb genera, with about 450-462 species. (22)
- Etymology: The genus name Acalypha derives from Ancient Greek akaluphe (nettle) or akalephe, meaning "unpleasant to touch", referring to the nettle-like leaves. (22) The species name hispida derives from Latin, meaning "bristly", referring to the pendant flowers that resemble brushes. (23)
- It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. (23)

• Acalypha hispida is a shrub growing to a height of 1-3meters. Leaves are alternate, petioled 2-11 cm long, broad-ovate, bright green atop, pale green underneath, with crenulate-serrate margins. Inflorescence is axillary, solitary, in long pendant spikes, up to 15-40 cm long. Flowers are small and bright red.

• Shrubs, 1-3 m tall. Branchlets grayish tomentulose when young. Stipules triangular, 6-10 mm, pilose; petiole 4-8 cm; leaf blade broadly ovate or ovate, 8-20 × 5-14 cm, papyraceous, base broadly cuneate, obtuse, or subcordate, margin coarsely serrate, apex acuminate or acute; basal veins 3-5. Plants dioecious. Only female flowers known. Female flowers 3-7 in each bract, fascicled, subsessile; spikes 15-30 cm, axillary, pendulous; peduncle short, pubescent; bracts scattered, ovate-rhombic, ca. 1 mm, entire; sepals (3 or)4, subovate, ca. 1 mm, acute, puberulent; ovary subglobose, densely hirtellous; styles 3, 5-7 mm, laciniate, crimson or red-purple.

- Cultivated, not naturalized.
- Popular garden cultivation for its decorative red catkins.
- Nowhere spontaneous.

- Phytochemical screening yielded flavonoids, carbohydrates, phenols and alkaloids.
- Plant has yielded gallic acid, corilagin, cycloartane-type triterpenoids, quercetin and kaempferol derivatives.
- Leaves yielded kaempferol 3-O-rutinoside. (16)
- Phytochemical screening of hexane extract (non-polar fraction) of leaves and twigs yielded flavonoids, carbohydrates, phenols, anthraquinones, cardiac glycosides, proteins, and alkaloids, with an absence of tannins, sterols and saponins. (see study below) (9)
- Proximate composition of leaves showed moisture (11.02%), crude fate (6.15%), ash (10.32%), crude protein (13.78%), crude fiber (10.25%) and carbohydrate (44.48%). Aqueous and methanolic extracts of leaves yielded phenolics, flavonoids, hydroxyanthraquinones, saponins, steroids, and phlobatannins.   (10)
- Ethanol and aqueous extracts of leaves yielded flavonoid content of 126.30 and 149.72 mg QE/g dry extract, and phenolic content of 130.51 and 173.80 mg GAE/g dry extract, respectively. (see study below) (18)
- Screening of dried powder leaves yielded carbohydrates, flavanoids, cardiac glycosides, anthraquinone glycosides, saponins, steroids, and tannins. (19)
- Phytochemical screening of leaf extracts yielded tannin, alkaloid, saponin and flavonoids, with absence of hydrogen cyanide and carbohydrates. (21)

- Diuretic, emollient, expectorant and laxative.
- Studies suggest antidiarrheal, anti-leishmanial, antioxidant, trypanocidal. antiulcer, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, wound healing, antibacterial properties.

Parts utilized
Bark, flower, leaves, root
Propagated by stem cuttings.

• Not known in the Philippines for medicinal applications.
• In Indonesia, a root and flower decoction is used for hemoptysis. Leaf poultice used for leprosy. Leaves used to treat thrush.
• In Malaya, decoction of leaves and flowers taken internally as laxative and diuretic for gonorrhea; externally, applied as emollient to wounds and ulcers. Bark used as expectorant and for asthma.
• In Africa, bark root used for pulmonary problems; leaf for leprosy, and flower for kidney ailments and as diuretic.
• In West Nigeria, leaves and stems soaked and boiled in water, used for skin rashes. (13)
• In India, reported Mawasi tribal use of flowers for diarrhea. (14)

Antimicrobial: Studies of leaf extracts isolated gallic acid, corilagin and geranin responsible for antimicrobial activity. (2)
Trypanocidal: Aqueous extract of Acalypha hispida leaves suggest trypanocidal effect. (3)
Anti-ulcer / Anti-tumor: Studies yielded geraniin and dehydroellagitannins which suggest diverse biological properties including anti-ulcer and anti-tumor effects, antibacterial activity against helicobacter pylori and antifungal activity.

Phytochemicals: Phytochemical studies yield phenolics, flavonoids, hydroxyanthraquinones and saponins. It also detected steroids , phlobatannins and glycosides.
Anthocyanins: Study isolated three anthocyanins from the red flowers of the chenille plant. (6)
Anti-Leishmanial: In a study of three Acalypha species, only A. hispida showed to have anti-leishmanial activity with an IC50 of 71.75 µg/mL (8)
Antioxidant / Antioxidant: Study evaluated a hexane extract for phytoconstituents and antioxidant activity. Study yielded flavonoids, carbohydrates, phenols and alkaloids. Results showed significant antioxidant activities when compared to ascorbic acid. The scavenging activity could be linked to flavonoid and phenol contents. (see constituents above) (9)
Toxicity Studies: Study in mice toxicity of combined extracts of three Acalypha species viz. Acalypha hispida, A. nervosa and A. fruiticosa. Subacute toxicity study showed no mortalities or evidence of adverse effects at highest dose of 2000 mg /kg of crude extracts. (11) Study evaluated the acute toxicity safety of ethanolic extract of A. hispida leaves in female Sprague-Dawley rats. Single extract doses of 2, 4, 8, and 16 g/kbw was administered orally. Results showed the ethanolic extract was relatively harmless with LD50 of 16 g/kbw, with no effect on body weight and no clinical signs of toxicity during the observation periods. (26)
Antidiarrheal / Combined Effects: Study evaluated the antidiarrheal potential of combined 70% hydroethanolic extracts of Acalypha hispida, A. nervosa and A. fruiticosa in castor oil-induced diarrhea in wistar rats. Results showed dose-dependent delay in the onset of induced diarrhea and also significant reduction in the number of diarrheal episodes and number of animals exhibiting diarrhea. Loperamide was used as standard drug. (12)
Essential Oil / Larvicidal: Study of leaves for essential oil yielded main constituents of neral (11.04%), citral (12.87%), 6,10,14, trimethyl-2-pentadecanone (13.43%) and n- hexadecanoic acid (14.69%). On toxicity for brine shrimps larvae (Artemia salina), LC50 value was 122.28 µg/mL, while activity against Anopheles gambiae showed an LC50 of 125 µg/mL. (15)
• Anti-Inflammatory / Antioxidant / Leaves: Study evaluated the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant activity, and bioactive plant polyphenols of ethanol and aqueous extracts of leaves. Both extracts showed statistically significant inhibition of carrageenan and histamine induced paw volume. Both extracts showed DPPH scavenging, Fe+2 iron chelating, NO scavenging, and concentration dependent reducing power ability. The anti-inflammatory activity may be due to the high presence of ellagic acid, contributed, too, by other phenolic contents. (see constituents above) (18)
• Antimicrobial / Cytotoxic / Leaves: Study evaluated an ethanolic extract of leaves for cytotoxic and antimicrobial activities. Cytotoxic activity by brine shrimp lethality showed potent cytotoxic effect with LC50 19.95 µg/ml, comparable to standard cytotoxic drub chloramphenicol (LC50 7 µg/ml). The extract showed antibacterial activity against Salmonella typhi and moderate activity against Enterococcus coli, Streptococcus saprophyticus and Streptococcus agalactin. (20)
• Antibacterial / Leaves: Study evaluated the antibacterial properties of ethanol, methanol, chloroform and water extracts of leaves against E. coli, S. aureus, P. aeruginosa, and S. typhi. The test organisms were susceptible to the extracts in varying degrees, with the methanol extract showed more antibacterial activity. (21)
• Increased Antioxidant Defense / Nanoextract of Leaves: Study evaluated the effect of nanoextract of A. hispida leaves on antioxidant defense and microstructure of the liver and kidney in diabetic rats. The extract (300 mg/kg) and nanoextract (30 and 60 mg/kbw) of A. hispida improved blood chemistry  (ALT, AST, creatinine, urea), decreased malondialdehyde (MDA) level and increased total SPOD and catalase (CAT) activity in the liver and kidney. The nanoextract at 60 mg/kbw showed best effect in suppressing microstructure damage to the liver and kidney. Results suggest the nanoextract of A. hispida increased antioxidant defense and suppressed microstructure damage in the liver and kidney of diabetic rats. (23)
• Effect on Wound Healing of Traumatic Ulcer / Leaves: Study evaluated the effect of cats tail leaves extract on wound healing of traumatic ulcers in the oral cavity mucosa of male Wistar rat. Leaves extract concentration of 50, 75, and 100% showed significant wound diameter decrease in every treatment group. Most significant wound diameter decrease group was 100%. The leaves treatment group showed greater wound healing effect than povidone iodine control group. (24)
• Hypoglycemic / Antioxidant / Leaves: Study evaluated the polyphenol profile, antioxidant,
α-glucosidase and α-amylase inhibitory and hypoglycemic activities of A. hispida leaf extract in vivo. Powdered Acalypha hispida leaves were macerated with 70 and 96% ethanol and decocted in distilled water. The ethanol and aqueous extracts showed strong antioxidant activity (IC50<10 µg/ml). The 96% ethanol extract showed very high inhibition of α-glucosidase and α-amylase activities. The 96% ethanol extract at 300 mg/kg dose showed significant hypoglycemic activity in experimental rats. Results suggest potential for the ethanol leaf extract as effective antihyperglycemic agent via inhibition of α-glucosidase and α-amylase. (25)

Toxicity concerns
- While some blogs assert the plant is not toxic, as many say it is toxic, especially dermatologically.
- Little may happen from merely touching the leaves and flowers. However, the sap from the leaves and stems are poisonous and the moisture inside the plant can cause considerable skin and mucous membrane irritation.
- Symptoms: Ingestion causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea (not a salad ingredient!); skin contact may cause acute dermatitis which may be severe.

- Care should be observed with small children around and when pruning or cutting the plant
- The toxic principle: diterpene esters.

- Ornamental cultivation.
- Seeds in the cybermarket.

Updated June 2024 / October 2018 / November 2014

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
IMAGE SOURCE: Acalypha hispita - Chenile plant / © Green Paradise / Non-commercial use / Click on image or link to go to source page / Green Paradise

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa
/ Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K) . Burkill, IH, 1935: 24

Antimicrobial constituents of the leaves of Acalypha wilkesiana and Acalypha hispida / S K Adesina et al / PTR. Phytotherapy research ISSN 0951-418X / 2000, vol. 14, no5, pp. 371-374

Trypanocidal effect of an aqueous extract of Acalypha hispida leaves. / E O Okania, J A Owoyale, J A Akinyanju / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, May 1990, 29(2): pp 233-237 / https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-8741(90)90060-7

Oxidized Ellagitannins in Medicinal Plants and Their Biological Activities
Chenile Plant Toxicity / Poisonous Plants of North Carolina / Dr Alice B Russell / North Carolina State University
Anthocyanins acylated with gallic acid from chenille plant, Acalypha hispida. / Bergitte Relersen et al / Phytochemistry Volume: 64 ISSN: 0031-9422 ISO Abbreviation: Phytochemistry Publication Date: 2003 Oct
Acalypha hispida Burm.f. / Synonyms / KEW: Plants of the World Online
Antileishmaniasis and Phytotoxicity of three Nigerian Acalypha species / Patricia. A. Onocha*,Ganikat K. Oloyede, Omotayo O. Dosumu and Muhammad S. Ali / Archives of Applied Science Research, 2011, 3 (6):1-5
Proximate Composition and Phytochemical Constituents of Leaves of Some Acalypha Species / O.M. Iniaghe, S.O. Malomo and J.O. Adebayo /
Pakistan Journal of Nutrition 8 (3): 256-258, 2009
Toxicity Studies of Combined Extracts of Acalypha hispida, Acalypha nervosa / Acalypha fruiticosa / K Bhargava Manikanta, P Raghu Varma, *P Vamsi Krishna, A Ravi Kumar, K M Subbu Rathinam / Indian Journal of Research in Pharmacy and Biotechnology ISSN: 2321-5674
Phytochemical and anti diarrhoeal activity of combined extracts of Acalypha hispida, Acalypha nervosa and Acalypha fruiticosa / Bhargav Manikanta, P Raghu Varma, P Vamsi Krishna, A Ravi Kumar, K M Subbu Rathinam / Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Vol 7, Issue 3, July-Sept 2014
Preliminary Investigations on the Ethnomedicinal Plants of Akoko Division, South West Nigeria / Ige O. E. / Global Journal of Health Science Vol. 3, No. 2; October 2011
Medicinal Plants Used for Diarrhoea by Tribals from Majhgawan Block of District Satna, Madhya Pradesh, India / Ravindra Singh* and Anjula Sharma / Ethno Med, 5(3): 205-208 (2011)
Chemical constituents, toxicity and larvicidal activity of the essential oil from the leaves of acalypha hispida and acalypha wilkesiana in south-west Nigeria / Sherifat Aboaba and Olukemi Omotoso / Elixir Appl. Chem. 52 (2012) 11263-11265
A Review on the Dietary Flavonoid Kaempferol / J.M. Calderón-Montaño, E. Burgos-Morón, C. Pérez-Guerrero and M. López-Lázaro* / Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry, 2011, 11, 298-344
Acalypha hispida / Synonyms / The Plant List
Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Activity of Acalypha hispida Leaf and Analysis of its Major Bioactive Polyphenols by HPLC / Md. Afilaus Siraj, Jamil A Shilpi, Md. Golam Hossain, Shaikh Jamal Uddi, Md Khirul Islam, Ismet Ara Jahan, and Hemayet Hossain / Adv Pharm Bull. 2016; 6(2): pp 275-283 / doi:  10.15171/apb.2016.039
Phytochemical evaluation of Acalypha hispida, Acalypha nervosa and Acalypha fruiticosa / Bhargav Manikanta, P Raghu varma P, Vamsi Krishna, A Ravi Kumar, K M Subbu Rathinam / Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, July-September 2014; Vol 7, Issue 3
ASSESSMENT OF ANTIMICROBIAL AND CYTOTOXIC ACTIVITIES OF ETHANOLIC EXTRACT OF LEAVES OF ACALYPHA HISPIDA / B. Bokshi, M.A.S. Sayeed, M.I. Ahmed, U.K. Karmakar, S.K. Sadhu / International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research / 10.13040/IJPSR.0975-8232.3(6).1705-08
Phytochemical and antibacterial properties of Acalypha hispida leaves / S Okorondu, T Sokari, M Okorondu, E Chinakwe / DOI: 10.4314/ijonas.v5i2.49977
Acalypha / Wikipedia
Nanoextract of Acalypha hispida leaves increases antioxidant defense and suppresses microstructure damage in liver and kidney of diabetic rats / Hamzah Alfarisi, Tutik Wresdiyati, Siti Sadiah, Berry Juliandi / Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science, 2022; 12(10): pp 99-108 / DOI: 10.7324/JAPS.2022.121010 /
ISSN: 2231-3354
Effect of cats tail leaves extract (acalypha hispida burm. f.) on wound healing (traumatic ulcer) of wistar male rat oral mucosa (rattus norvegicus) / Sumintarti, Jessica Juliana /  Journal of Dentomaxillofacial Science, 2020; 5(1): pp 56-61 / pISSN: 2503-0817 / eISSN: 2503-0825
Polyphenol Profile, Antioxidant and Hypoglycemic Activity of Acalypha hispida Leaf Extract / H Alfarisi, Sa'diah, T Wresdiyati / Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2020; 82(2): pp 291-299
ACUTE TOXICITY TEST OF ETHANOLIC EXTRACT OF Acalypha hispida LEAVES IN FEMALE RATS: A PHYSIOLOGICAL AND HISTOLOGICAL STUDY / Hamzah Alfarisi, Mawar Subangkit, Siti Sadiah, Tutik Wresdiyati / Indonesian Ournal of Veterinary Sciences, 2020; 14(3): pp 48-53 /
DOI: 10.21157/j.ked.hewan.v14i3.16176

DOI: It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

                                                            List of Understudied Philippine Medicinal Plants
                                          New plant names needed
The compilation now numbers over 1,300 medicinal plants. While I believe there are hundreds more that can be added to the collection, they are becoming more difficult to find. If you have a plant to suggest for inclusion, native or introduced, please email the info: scientific name (most helpful), local plant name (if known), any known folkloric medicinal use, and, if possible, a photo. Your help will be greatly appreciated.

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