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Family Compositae
Pseudelephantopus spicatus (Juss. ex Aubl.) Rohr

Jia di dan cao

Scientific names Common names
Distreptus spicatus Cass. Ardatig (Bik.)
Distreptus spicatus var. interrupta Ram.Goyena Dila-dila (Tag.)
Elephantopus colimensis Sessé & Moc. Dilang-aso (Tag.)
Elephantopus littoralis Sessé & Moc. Habul (Bik.)
Elephantopus spicatus B. Juss. ex Aubl. Kabkaron (Ilk.)
Elephantopus strigosus Willd. ex DC. Kalkalapikap (Bon.)
Matamoria spicata (Juss. ex Aubl.) La Llave & Lex. Maratabako (Ilk.)
Pseudelephantopus spicatus (Juss. ex Aubl.) Rohr Sigang-dagat (Tag.)
  Sumag (Pamp.)
  Supsuput (Bon.)
  Dog's tongue (Engl.)
  False elephant foot (Engl.)
  Iron weed (Engl.)
  Tobacco weed (Engl.)
Dila-dila is a shared common name by many different species of plants: (1) Onychium siliculosum: Buhok-virgin (Tag.); dila-dila (Tag) (2) Nopalea cochinellifera: Dila-dila (Ilk.); dilang baka (Tag.) (3) Elephantus scaber: Dila-dila (Tag.), kabkabron (Ilk.); prickly leaved elephant's food (Engl.) (4) Pseudoelephantopus spicatus: Dila-dila (Tag.); dilang-aso (Tag.) Kabkaron (Ilk.) Other phonetic variations and use of "dila" for other local plant names further add to the confusion: Dila-dilag (Spilanthes acmella); Dilang aso (P. spicatus); Dilang-baka (N. Cochinellifera); Dilang-boaia, dilang-halo (Aloe vera); Dilang-butiki (Dentella repens); Dilang-butiki (Hedyotis philippensis); Dilang-usa (Trichodesma zeylanicum); and Diladila (Cordyline roxyburghiana).
Sigang-dagat is a local common name shared by Sigang-dagat (Jussiaea repens) and Dilang-aso.
Tobacco weed is a common English name shared by Malatabako and Dilang-aso.
Pseudelephantopus spicatus is an unresolved name. The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Jia di dan cao.
FRENCH: Faux tabac des Samoa.
MANGAREVAN: Avaava havar.
MAORI: Tapuae 'erepani.
SAMOAN: Vao elefane, vao maligi, vao malini.
SPANISH: Hierba de caballo.
TAHITIAN: Ava'a, Ava'ava, Ava'ava ha'avare, Rau'ara nu'a.
THAILAND: Do la do, Ton tai din. ch[aa]n voi gi[es].
VIETNAM: Ch[aa]n voi gi[es].

Dilang-aso is an erect, much branched, hairy or nearly smooth, rather stiff herb, 20 to 80 centimeters in height. Leaves are oblong-obovate and 9 to 14 centimeters long, with a blunt tip and narrowed base; those of the upper part of the stem are smaller. Flowering heads are about 1.5 centimeters long, without stalks, occurring in clusters of 2 to 5, borne in the axils of the very much-reduced leaves, and arranged along the few, elongated, spike-like branches of the inflorescence. Involucral bracts are green, the outer being much smaller than the inner ones. Achenes are linear-oblong, about 6 millimeters in length, ribbed and hairy, and glandular between the ribs. Pappus hairs are four, dilated, laciniate-cleft at the base, and unequal, two being straight and two being longer and abruptly recurved and again curved upward. Corolla is white and about 7 millimeters long.

- Common in waste places in settled areas generally, from the Batan Islands and northern Luzon to Mindanao, in most islands and provinces.
- Native to tropical America.
- Introduced from Mexico.
- Also occurs in the Marianne Islands, Taiwan, southern China, Taiwan, and Java.

- Column chromatography yielded fine white crystals which appeared to be glaucolide-B, a sesquiterpene lactone previously isolated from the species of the genus Vernonia.
- Study yielded five new sesquiterpene lactones, spicatolides D-H. (See study below)

- Study of aerial parts yielded five new sesquiterpene lactones, spicatolides D−H (15), along with four known compounds, pitocarphin D (6), 8α-acetoxy-10α-hydroxy-13-O-methylhirsutinolide (7), spicatolide A (8), and 13-O-methylvernojalcanolide 8-O-acetate (9). (see study below) (13

- Vulnerary, antileishmanial, hepatoprotective, anticancer, antifungal, antidotal.
- Studies suggest hepatoprotective, antileishmanial, anticancer, antifungal properties.

Parts used


- In central Luzon, leaves used as topical for eczema.
- Leaves used as vulnerary.
- In India
, bark used as antidote for snake bites.
- In Jamaica, used for fever, eye problems, and sprains.

Antifungal / Cadinanolide:
Study yielded a new sesquiterpene lactone from a chloroform extract of P. spicatus which was shown to exhibit moderate antifungal activity against Candida albicans and A. niger. (1)
Hepatoprotective: Study evaluating the liver protective effect of E. scaber, E. mollis and P. spicatus on CCl4 induced hepatotoxicity showed a moderate effect with P. spicatus. (2)
Spicatolides / Cytotoxic Sesquiterpene Lactones: Study yielded five new sesquiterpene lactones, spicatolides D-H with four known compounds. Tested against human cancer cell lines, compounds 1-4 showed cytotoxicity against the Hep3B and MCF-7 cancer cell lines. (3)
Germacranolides: Study yielded two novel germacranolides, stigmasterol, and glaucolide B. (4)
Teng-Khia-U / Anti-Inflammatory: 'Teng-Khia-U," a folk medicine from Taiwan, derived from E. scaber, E. mollis and P. spicatus, was evaluated for anti-inflammatory activity in CFA-induced chronic arthritis in rats. Results showed pretreatment with Teng-Khia-U significantly inhibited carrageenan-induced acute arthritis and significantly suppressed the development of chronic arthritis induced by CFA. (5)
Antileishmanial / Sesquiterpene Lactones: Study yielded three moderately to strongly active compounds: two hirsutinolids (8,13-diacetyl-piptocarphol and the 8-acetyl-13-O-ethyl-piptocarphol) and ursolic acid. IC50 against Leishmania amazonensis axenic amastigotes were 0.3, 0.37, and0.99, while IC50 for amphotericin B is 0.41 uM. (7)

• Cytotoxicity Bioassay: Study evaluated P. spicatus extract for biologic activity using Brine Shrimp Bioassay using four concentrations (1p, 100, 500, 1000 ppm). Decoction and ethanol-water extract were inactive against brine shrimp. The absolute ethanol extract showed the presence of cytotoxic substances and better extraction of active components than hot water or mixture or mixture of ethanol and water.  (12)
• Cytotoxic Sesquiterpene Lactones / Anticancer Against Hep3B and MCF-7 Cancer Cell Lines: Study of aerial parts of Pseudelephantopus spicatus isolated five new sesquiterpene lactones, spicatolides D-H (1-5) along with four known compounds from the EA extract of aerial parts. Compounds were evaluated for cytotoxic effects against five human cancer cell lines. Compounds 1, 3, and 4 showed cytotoxicity (IC50 <5µg/mL) against Hep3B and MCF-7 cancer cell lines. (13)
• Teng-Khia- U / Hepatoprotective: Teng-Khia-U is a Taiwanese folk medicine derived from entire plants of Elephantus scaber, E. mollis, and Pseudelephantopus spicatus. Study evaluated the hepatoprotective effects of water extracts of these three plants against beta-D-galactosamine (D-GaIN)- ad acetaminophen (APAP)-induced hepatic injury in rats. Results showed decrease in enzyme levels after treatment with the crude extracts of Teng-Khia-U. (14)
Phytoremediation Study / Lead Contaminated Soil: Study evaluated the phytoremediation potential of Pseudelephantopus spicatus on plant tolerance to lead (Pb)-contaminated soil and its mechanism for Pb uptake. Results showed plants in Pb-treated soil had significantly shorter shoot length, and smaller width of largest leaf, and reduced number of leaves compared to control. Pb uptake increased with longer exposure time. However, higher lead concentration was observed in the soil compared to Pb in the roots. Results demonstrated the plant has tolerance as a Pb excluder, and may not be a good candidate for phytoremediation. However, further studies on effects of different Pb concentrations, higher time intervals response or use of chelating agents and fertilizers may improve its potential for phytoremediation. (15)


Updated March 2022 / March 2018 / July 2014

IMAGE SOURCES (2): Pseudelephantopus spicatus / Flower spikes at Hana Ranch, Maui / Forest and Kim Starr / Plants of Hawaii / Creative Commons Attribution / Modifications by G. Stuart / alterVISTA

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
An Antifungal Cadinanolide from Pseudoelephantopus spicatus / Consolacion Ragasa and John Rideout / CHEMICAL & PHARMACEUTICAL BULLETIN, Vol. 49 (2001) , No. 10 1359
The pharmacological and pathological studies on Taiwan folk medicine (VI): The effects of Elephantopus scaber subsp. oblanceolata, E. mollis and Pseudoelephantopus spicatus / Lin CC, Yen MH, Chiu HF /
Am J Chin Med. 1991;19(1):41-50.
Cytotoxic Sesquiterpene Lactones from Pseudoelephantopus spicatus / Yu-Liang Yang, Sue-Ming Chang et al / J Nat Prod, 2007, 70, 1761-1765
Germacranolides from Pseudoelephantopus spicatus / Consolacion Ragasa, William Padolina et al /
Phytochemistry, Volume 33, Issue 3, 18 June 1993, Pages 627-629 / doi:10.1016/0031-9422(93)85461-Y
Anti-inflammatory effects of Taiwan folk medicine ‘Teng-Khia-U’ on carrageenan- and adjuvant-induced paw edema in rats / Chin-Chuan Tsai and Chun-Ching Lin / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 64, Issue 1, 1 January 1998, Pages 85-89 / doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(98)00108-1
Elephantopus spicatus (Juss. ex AuBlume) Cass. / Catalogue of Life, China
Antileishmanial sesquiterpene lactones from Pseudelephantopus spicatus, a traditional remedy from the Chayahuita Amerindians (Peru). Part III. / Odonne G, Herbette G, Eparvier V, Bourdy G, Rojas R, Sauvain M, Stien D. / J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Sep 1;137(1):875-9. Epub 2011 Jul 8.
Pseudelephantopus spicatus / Common names / Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk / PIER
Herbs and herbal constituents active against snake bite / Antony Gomex et al / Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol 48, Sept 2010, pp 865-878
The isolation and structure determination of the major constituents of Ageratum conyzoides L. and Pseudelephantopus spicatus Rohr / Ticzon EC / SCINET-PHIL
Pseudelephantopus spicatus (Juss. ex Aubl.) Gleason / Chinese name / Catalogue of Life, China
Brine Shrimp (Artemia salina) Bioassay of the medicinal plant Pseudelephantopus spicatus from Iligan City, Philippines / Jeda A Lalisan, Olga Nuneza, Mylene Uy / International Research Journal of Biological Sciences, Vol 3(9): pp 47-50, Sept 2014

Cytotoxic Sesquiterpene Lactones from Pseudoelephantopus spicatus / Yu-Liang Yang, Sue-Ming Chang, Ching-Chung Wu, Pei-Wen Hsieh, Shu-Li Chen, Fang-Rong Chang, Wen-Chun Hung, Hamad H Issa, Yang-Chang Wu / / J. Nat. Prod., 2007, 70 (11), pp 1761–1765 / DOI10.1021/np070331q
Evaluation of hepatoprotective effects of Taiwan folk medicine 'Teng-Khia-U'  [1995]
/ Lin, C.C.Tsai, C.C.Yen, M.H. / AGRIS: Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations
Phytoremediation potential of Dilang-aso (Pseudelephantopus spicatus (Juss.) Rohr)in lead-contaminated soil / Alwyn Jan Derrick Lu, Frederick John Navarro, Ronald Pascual, Lydia Clemen-Pascual / Journal of Agricultural Research, Development, Extension, and Technology;2020; 2(1)

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)

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