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Family Compositae
Pseudelephantopus spicatus (Juss.) Rohr.

Jia di dan cao

Scientific names Common names
Pseudelephantopus spicatus (Juss.) Rohr. Ardatig (Bik.)
Distreptus spicatus Cass. Dila-dila (Tag.)
Elephantopus spicatus Aubl. Dilang-aso (Tag.)
Elephantopus dubius Blanco Habul (Bik.)
Jia di dan cao (Chin.) Kabkaron (Ilk.)
  Kalkalapikap (Bon.)
  Maratabako (Ilk.)
  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.

Other vernacular names
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, spikelike 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)

Vulnerary, antileishmanial, hepatoprotective, anticancer, antifungal, antidotal.

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)


Last Update 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

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