Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Elephantopus scaber L.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
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Herbarium specimen. © DERM

Linnaeus, C. (1753) Species Plantarum Edn. 1 2: 814. Type: Habitat in Indiis.


Herb with a basal rosette of leaves.


Leaf blades 60-100 x 20-28 mm, petioles up to 5 mm long but difficult to distinguish from the attenuate base of the leaf blades which often clasps the stem. Surfaces of the leaf blade finely warty, clothed in white hairs (somewhat scabrous) and densely glandular. Leaves on non flowering branches scattered along stems.


Inflorescence dichotomously branched; flower heads glomerate, 20-50 together, glomerules single or double on peduncles 4-20 cm long with scabrid appressed hairs; bearing 3 cordate to deltoid-ovate leaves at the base of the glomerules. Glomerules surrounded by a row of boat-shaped sharply acuminate scales; heads 4-flowered, 8-10 x 2 mm thick. Involucre with 2 rows of 4 scales; corolla 7-9 mm long, glabrous, style hairy in upper part.


Achene oblong-linear with ca.10 ribs, pubescent between the ribs, about 4 x 0.5 mm long; pappus consists of 5 spreading and stiff bristles, about 5 mm long.


Features not available.

Distribution and Ecology

An annual herb native to Tropical America and the Caribbean Islands but naturalised in Australia occurring in NT, CYP and NEQ. Altitudinal range from 5-660 m. Found in margins of rainforest, in sclerophyll forest, open Eucalyptus and Melaleuca Forest and in various types of woodland and grassland.

Natural History & Notes

A weed of disturbed places. Leaves used as a medicine in India (Webb 1948).

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