Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Eclipta prostrata (L.) L.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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© Barry Jago
Habit, leaves and flowers. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Linnaeus, C. von (1771) Mantissa Plantarum Altera : 286.

Common name

Daisy, False; False Daisy; White Twin-heads


Usually a herb but sometimes flowers and fruits as a shrub about 1 m tall.


Leaf blades about 5-9 x 1-2.5 cm, both the upper and lower surfaces clothed in white, prostrate, stiff hairs. Leaves +/- sessile. Margins with about 3-15 teeth on each side.


Flowers borne in heads about 7 mm diam. on a peduncle about 1.5-4 cm long. Heads subtended by a ring of 8-10 green bracts. Ray florets ligulate and female, about 3 mm long. Disk florets tubular, bisexual, about 2.5 mm long. Stamens connate. Style bifid at the apex.


Fruits borne in heads. Individual fruits about 3 mm long, surface strongly tuberculate, pappus absent. Testa brown to black, marked by a transverse pattern of lines.


Cotyledons about 3-6 x 2-4 mm, petiole about 1 mm long. First pair of leaves opposite, margins with 1 or 2 teeth on each side close to the apex. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade about 8-12.5 x 2.5 cm, bases very attenuate. All parts of the seedling clothed in white, prostrate, stiff hairs. Lateral veins about 7 or 8 pairs forming loops close to the leaf blade margin. Seed germination time 20 to 86 days.

Distribution and Ecology

A species with a pantropic distribution. Occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards to south-eastern Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales. Altitudinal range in northern Queensland from near sea level to 550 m. Usually grows as a weed of agricultural land and waste places but occasionally found in disturbed areas in rain forest.

Natural History & Notes

This species has some minor medicinal uses for the treatment of people.  In India it has been used to treat wounds in cattle.

In India and South-East Asia, the leaves, either boiled or pounded, have been mixed with coconut oil to promote luxuriant growth of hair, as well as to dye grey hair black.

The plant contains a small amount of nicotine which possibly has a slight narcotic effect. Cribb (1981).

Eclipta prostrata L., Mantissa Plantarum Altera : 286(1771), Type: China?.
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