Sphaeranthus indicus L.

Sphaeranthus indicus L.




Sphaeranthus hirtus Willd., Sphaeranthus mollis Roxb. ex. DC.

Vernacular Names


East Indian globe thistle.


Sembung, ki heuleut (Sun­danese), brincil (Javanese).


Khi khoay (Louang-Prabang).


Matom suea.


C[us]c ch[aa]n v[ij]t, c[or] tr[uws]ng v[ij]t.

Geographical Distributions

Sphaeranthus  indicus originates from India, and is now spreading throughout the Old World trop­ics, including China, Malaysia and Australia, as a weed. It is not recorded in Borneo, the Moluc­cas or Papua New Guinea.


Sphaeranthus  indicus is an annual, sticky-glandular, hairy herb that can grow up to 30-60 cm tall. The stem is divaricately branched especially in the top part.

The leaves are obo­vate-oblong, measure 1-8 cm x 0.5-2.5 cm, with serrate margins and irregularly serrate wings.

The glomerule is spherical-ellip­soid, 12-15 mm across and with ovate receptacle. There are about 20 involu­cral bracts, which are lance-shaped, whitish, and purple-­tipped, while the upper half is densely hairy. The heads are small and numerous on very short secondary receptacles. There are 13-17 bracts, which are linear, 3 mm long, hairy and glandu­lar.

There are 10-13 marginal flowers, with petal 2-3 mm long, 2-3-dentate, and with 3(-5) disk flowers, with flask-­shaped petal, with the lower part becomes swollen, hardened and persistent at maturity, 1 mm across,  narrowly cylindrical at the upper part, glandular, 3 mm long, 5-dentate, and with purple flowers. The achenes of the marginal flowers are ovoid-oblong, 4-5-angled, with hairy an­gles and brown, while achenes of the disk flowers are obconical, 4-5-angled, smooth or hairy.

Ecology / Cultivation

Sphaeranthus indicus is abun­dant in damp situations, ascending to an altitude of about 1500 m, especially as a weed in and along (fallowed) rice fields, along ditches, often in groups, especially on heavy soils. In Java, it flow­ers from May to February, while in India from Septem­ber to March.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No.12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2.