Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Corchorus aestuans L.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flower. © R.L. Barrett
Flower. © R.L. Barrett
Fruit. © R.L. Barrett
Leaf and fruit. © R.L. Barrett
Habit, leaves and flowers. © R.L. Barrett
Habit, leaves and fruit. © R.L. Barrett
Herbarium specimen. © DERM

Linnaeus, C. von (1759) Systema Naturae Edn. 10 2: 1079. Type: Jamaica, P. Browne; [LINN 691.4] (lecto: LINN n.v., IDC 177-12. 356: I3 (691.4) (BRI), fide Fawcett & Rendle (1926)).

Common name



Erect spreading herb up to 30 cm tall; stems pubescent, long hairs mainly on one side of the branches and short curly hairs on the other side.


Leaves thinly textured. Leaf blades 10-50 x 10-25 mm; petioles slender, 3-23 mm long, densely pubescent. Stipules hairy, linear, 2-8 mm long; long hairs on veins on abaxial surface


Inflorescence a reduced 2-3 -flowered umbel. Peduncle 0.3-2 mm long. Pedicel glabrous, 1-2.5 mm long. Calyx lobes shorter than corolla, 2-3.5 mm long, very narrow and glabrous outside. Petals 2.5-4.5 mm long. Stamens 10. Ovary cylindrical, ribbed and silky pubescent. Stigma fimbriate.


capsule ca. narrowly ellipsoid, straight, 8-20 x 3.5-6 mm. Apex of capsule with three bifid horns 2-5 mm long. Annulus prominent in young fruit. Seeds strongly angular, testa dull brown to reddish brown.


Features not available.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ and CEQ. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 580 m. Grows mainly in disturbed areas in rainforest, Eucalypt forest, monsoon forest, vine thicket, mixed woodland, heathland, monsoon scrub and in wooded grassland.,Also from Africa, Malesia, Asia, Pacific Islands and New Guinea.

Natural History & Notes

Used as a stomachic, anti-inflammatory and as a treatment for pneumonia in India. The alcoholic extract from the whole plant showed anticancer activity against epidermal carcinoma (Khare 2007).

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