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Gynandropsis Gynandra


Cleome gynandra, Cleome pentaphylla, Pedicllaria pentaphylla, Gynandropsis pentaphylla, Gynandropsis denticulate, Cleome acuta, Gynandropsis heterotricha, Cleome heterotricha  [1] [6]

Vernacular Names:


Maman, Langsana Merah

English Bastard Mustard, Cat's Whiskers, Spider Flower, Caravella, African Spiderflower
China Pe Hua Tsai

Babowan, Enceng-enceng, Mamang, Langsana, Merah, Boboon, Ent Jengent, Leug-lengan


Cinco-cinco, Silisihan, Tantandok, Balabalansyan, Hulaya, Apoiapoian, Apoy-apoyan (Tagalog); Manabo (Ilocano); Balaya (Bisaya)


Phak Sian, Phak Sian Khaao, Phak Som Stan


Kurhur, Karaila (Ayurvedic); Tilaparni (White-flowered Variety), Ajagandhaa (Yellow-flowered Variety), Arkapushpi (Sushruta); Hurhur, hurhul (Unani); Kadugu (Siddha).


Wild Spider Flower, African Spider Flower


Small Spider flower




Acaya Blanc, Mouzambe a Fleurs Blanches

Puerto Rico

Small Spider Flower, White Massombee, Jasmin del Rio, Volantine de Cinco Hojas


African Spider Flower


Spider Flower




Senfkapper, Benzoinbaun, Fieberstrauch

The Netherlands


Angola Musambe, Muzambue, Kasangu
Botswana Rothwe, Lothnue
Cameroon Rorbwa, Worba, Kinaski
Egypt Abu quarn, Arareeg, Tamaleekah, Tokshangeth
Ethiopia Boekbeha, Gargama

Chinsaga, Saget, Keyo, Mkabili, Mwangani, Mwianzo, Mukakai, Sake, Thagiti, Isakyat, Isoget, Tsisaka, Esaks, Chisoka, Lisaka, Dek, Alot-dek, deg-akeyo, Lemba-e-nabo, Olmuateni, Oljani-lool tatwa, Munyugunyungu, Isakiat, Suriyo, Suriya, Karelmet, Bakeria-dahan, Sakiantet, Sabai, Iasaitet, Jeu-gurreh, Kisiat, Echaboi, Akio Luni, Nsila, Mutaka

Malawi Brede Caya, Pissat des Chiens
Mauritius Lerotu, Erotho, Spider Flower, Spider Wisp, Bastard Mustard
Reunion Aija
Somalia       Palmbossie, Vingerblaartee
South Africa Tamaleika, Akaki, Agyiri, Ziri

Mgagani, Mwage-nazi


Ejjoboyo, Isaga, Akeyo, Eshogi, Eyobyo, Ekiau, Ekaboi, Ecaboi, Ekeyo, Tegeri, Jirri, Eshoje


Gasaya, Nasege, Kinaski, Ngor si Bidar

West Africa

Boanga, Mugole, Muhole, Isogi, Lubanga, Mangayamangaya


Suntha, Lyuniyi, Lubanga, Sishungwa, Chishugwa, Shungwa


Spider Flower, Nyevhe, Tsinga, Ulude, Bangara, Ulede, Rumi


Nyeuhe, Elude






M[af]n m[af]n tr[aws]ng [1] [2] [7]

General Information


Gynandropsis gynandra is a member of the Capparaceae family. It is an erect herbaceous annual herb standing 50-150cm in height. The stem and leaf petioles are covered with dense glandular hairs. It is also a highly branched plant. The plant exhibits variable pigmentations form, green to pink or violet and purple on the stem and leaf petioles. The plant has a long tap root with a few secondary roots with root hairs. The leaves are alternate and palmately compound with long petioles measuring 3-23cm long. Each compound leaf has between 3 and 7 leaflets but mostly 5 (rarely 3-4) which are pinnately dissected and sessile. The two cotyledonary leaves have single leaflets and both leaves are oppositely arranged on the stem. The leaflets are oval to elliptical in shape and measures 2-10cm long, and 2-4cm wide. The leaflets have also finely toothed margins or round ends. The inflorescence is terminal and axillary determinate racemes bearing flower with long pedicels which arise singly in the axis of small, leafy bracts. The flowers are generally white to pale pink in colour, each measuring about 1-25cm across. Each flower has 4 sepals, 4 narrow clawed petals and 6 stamens with long purple filaments arising from a much elongated receptacle. The fruit is a capsule is a spindle-shaped pod measuring up to 12cm long and 8-10mm wide. The pods are green in colour and turn yellow when ripening. The pods dehisce easily when dry. Each pod may contain as many as 100-150 seeds. The seeds are round and black in colour. Each seed measures at least 1-1.5mm in diameter. It has also a rough seed coat. [3]

Plant Part Used

Leaves, root, seed. [1] [4]

Chemical Constituents

7-phenoxycoumarin; apegenin; beta-sitosterol; cleogynol; cleomin; glucocapparin; hexcosanol; kaempferol; lactone-cleome-olide; linoleic acid; myristic acid; oleic acid; palmitic acid; peduletin; stearic acid; viscosic acid; viscosin. [7] [18]

Traditional Used:

G. gynandra is used as a vegetable either fresh or pickles. Many society believed that it has medicinal properties which could ally many ailments when taken as vegetable renders it very nutritious. The leaves when crushed and decocted could help prevent scurvy. Leaves boiled and marinated in sour milk makes a medicinal meal that could help improve eyesight, provide energy and cure marasmus. For pregnant ladies eating the vegetable could reduce dizzy spells, when take regularly it will ease childbirth by reducing the duration of labour and subsequently hasten recovery postnatally. When the need to suppress lactation arise, the leaves are boiled in water and drank. [1] [3]

Gastrointestinal Diseases

A decoction of the leaves or roots is used to treat stomachache and constipation. The leaves are considered as an anthelmintic and is used in decoction to treat thread-worm infestation in children. [1] [4]

Respiratory Diseases

It was reported that the infusion of the seeds is a good remedy for cough. [1] Sushruta, the famous and well known India surgeon of antiquity, made use of the whole plant in a potherb to treat haemoptysis, fever, cough and asthma.[7] For the treatment of pneumona it had been advocated that the leaves be rubbed onto the skin of the chest however, care must be taken to remove the poultice before blistering occurs. Decoction of the leaves or roots could help relieve chest pains. [1] [3] [6]

Analgesic, Anti-inflammatory

The sap of the leaves is considered an analgesic and is used in the treatment of headaches, neuralgia, otalgia, rheumatism and other local pains. In these cases a poultice is prepared by bruising the plant and applying over the affected area. Again it is cautioned that the poultices should be removed before blistering occurs. The leaves also has anti-inflammatory properties which is useful in the treatment of the above conditions. Both these properties are taken advantage of when treating venomous bites of snakes and scorpions. The leaves are applied over abscesses to prevent suppuration. [1] [3] [6-9]

Gynaecology and Obstetrics

The leaves asn roots are used to treat uterine complains. To help ease childbirth, a decoction of the whole plant (leaves and/or roots) is given during delivery. It is believed that continuing taking this decoction during the postpartum period would help hasten the process of recovery. [1] [3] [5] [6]

Other Uses

The sap from young leaves are dropped into the nostrils to treat epileptic fits. Infusions of the leaves could be used to treat conjunctivitis or as eyewash, anaemia and blood loss. The seeds has insecticidal activities and is used to treat maggot-infested sores, head lice and scabies.

Pre-Clinical Data


Anti-inflammatory activity

Narendhirakannan et al. [15] [16] studied the anti-inflammatory activity of alcoholic extracts of G. gynandra in Freund’s complete adjuvant-induced athritis in rats. In an earlier study of the methanolic extract, it was found that there was a significant anti-inflammatory activity together with reversal of haematological and biochemical parameters after a treatment period of 30 days. Their study on the ethanolic extracts fruther demonstraded that the anti-inflammatory effects could be due to its stabilizing action of lysosomal membranes there by preventing the spread of inflammation.  The presence of many biologically active compounds like triterpenes, tannins, anthroquinones, flavonoids, saponins, steroids, resins, lectins, glycosides, sugars, phenolic compounds and alkaloids in the extracts could attribute to the anti-inflammatory activity.

Analgesic activity

In a study to determing the anti-nociceptive activity of G. gynandra leaves it was found the the ethanol and aqueous extracts were the most active. Ghagare et al. suggested that the anti-nociceptive activity involved the opioid receptors as evidenced by the fact that the hot plate test was blocked by naloxone. They found flavonoids and tannins in the active extracts which they believed could be responsible for this activity. [10]

Antitoxidant activity

It was found that the administration of G. gynandra leaf extract was able to increase levels of lipid peroxides and the activities of catalase, glutathione peroxidase and decrease the levels of reduce glutatione and superoxide dismutase activity is arthritic rats. The free radical scavenging activity of the plant was futher evidenced by histological observatiosn on the limb tissue. [12] Sivanesan et al. further found the the leave extracts could diminish the rate of lipid peroxidation, with a significant increase in levels of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant following administration of aflatoxin B1. [13]

Cytotoxic activity

The CH3OH-CH2Cl2 extract of G. gynandra contain six cancer cell growth inhibitors i.e. apegenin and 5 flavonols. The five flavonols were found to inhibit murine P388 lyphocytic leukemia cells line while all six flavonoids exhibited activity against a panel of six human cancer cell lines. [14] Bala et al. [15] recently explored the anticancer activity of methanol extract of G. gynandra. Their results showed a significant decrease in tumour volume, tumour weight, viable cell count, and elevated life span of Erlich Ascites Carcinoma bearing mice. The haematological profile returned to normal. This indicate that the extract has a potent anticancer activity in a dose dependent manner and which is comparable to 5-fluorouracil.

Modulatory effect on glucosed metabolizing enzymes activity

A significant increase in key glycolytic enzymes (hexokinase and phosphoglucoisomerase) and a significant decrease in gluoneogenic enzymes (glucose-6-phosphatase and fructose-`1,5-biphosphatase) was seen in aflatoxin B1-induced hepatocellular carcinoma in rats. Sivanesan et al. administered extract of G. gynandra and found that these pathological processes were reversed to near normal levels suggesting that it has a definite modulating role on the key enzymes of glucose metabolism in hepatocellular carcinoma. This modulatory effect is attributed to the phytoactive constituents present in the extract. [11]

Antibacterial activity

Penduletin and apegenin were amongst the flavonoids isolated from the CH3OH-CH2Cl2 extract of G. gynandra. Peduletin was found to ihibit the growth of the Gram-negative pathogen Neisseria gonorrhoea and apegenin inhibited the growth of Gram-positive opportunist Enterococcus faecalis. [14]


The sap from the leaves is said to be irritant to the skin and cause blistering. People with sensitive skins should avoid using the fresh leaves as poultice. Apparently when boiled the irritant factor is lost.

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Used in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

This plant is safe for consumption during pregnancy for it is nutritious with high iron content. It regular use during pregnancy could help ease labour. However, it is not advisable to be used for too long postnatally as it is known to suppress lactation.

Age Limitations

Their use in infants is not recommended. Children after the age of two could consume it as vegetable and as a source of iron and vitamins.

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation


  1. James A. Chweya, Nameus A. Mnzava, International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Cat's whiskers, Cleome gynandra L. , Bioversity International, Rome, 1997. Pg8-23
  2. Globinmed [Accessed on 11/6/2010]
  3. Kimani Waithaka, James A. Chweya, Gynandropsis gynandra (L.) Briq: a tropical leafy vegetable, its cultivation and utilization, Food & Agriculture Org., Rome,1991. pg3-32
  4. R.Vardhana, Direct Uses Of Medicinal Plants And Their Identification, Sarup & Sons, New Delhi, 2008. pg165
  5. G. J. H. Grubben, Vegetables, PROTA, Netherlands, 2004. pg192
  6. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Traditional food plants: a resource book for promoting the exploitation and consumption of food plants in arid, semi-arid and sub-humid lands of Eastern Africa ... Food & Agriculture Org., Rome, 1988. pg204
  7. C. P. Khare,  Indian herbal remedies: rational Western therapy, ayurvedic, and other traditional usage, botany, Springer, German, 2004. pg240-241
  8. Dr. Ashok Bendre & Dr. Ashok Kumar, A Text Book Of Practical Botany 2, Rastogi Publications, India, 1984. pg75
  9. R.Vardhana, Direct Uses Of Medicinal Plants And Their Identification, Sarup & Sons, New Delhi, 2008. pg165
  10. Ghogare UR, Nirmal SA, Patil RY, Kharya MD. Antinociceptive activity of Gynandropsis gynandra leaves. Nat Prod Res. 2009;23(4):327-33.
  11. Sivanesan D, Begum VH. Modulatory effect of Gynandropsis gynandra L. on glucose metabolizing enzymes in  aflatoxin B1-induced hepatocellular carcinoma in rats. Indian J Biochem Biophys. 2007 Dec;44(6):477-80.
  12. Narendhirakannan RT, Subramanian S, Kandaswamy M. Free radical scavenging activity of Cleome gynandra L. leaves on adjuvant induced arthritis in rats. Mol Cell Biochem. 2005 Aug;276(1-2):71-80.
  13. D, Begum VH. Preventive role of Gynandropsis gynandra L., against aflatoxin B1 induced lipid peroxidation and antioxidant defense mechanism in rat. Indian J Exp Biol. 2007 Mar;45(3):299-303.
  14. Pettit GR, Meng Y, Herald DL, Stevens AM, Pettit RK, Doubek DL. Antineoplastic agents 540. The Indian Gynandropsis gynandra (Capparidaceae). Oncol Res. 2005;15(2):59-68.
  15. Bala A, Kar B, Haldar PK, Mazumder UK, Bera S. Evaluation of anticancer activity of Cleome gynandra on Ehrlich's Ascites Carcinoma treated mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 May 4;129(1) :131-4
  16. Narendhirakannan RT, Kandaswamy M, Subramanian S. Anti-inflammatory activity of Cleome gynandra L. on hematological and cellular constituents in adjuvant-induced arthritic rats. J Med Food. 2005 Spring;8(1):93-9.
  17. Narendhirakannan RT, Subramanian S, Kandaswamy M. Anti-inflammatory and lysosomal stability actions of Cleome gynandra L. studied in adjuvant induced arthritic rats. Food Chem Toxicol. 2007 Jun;45(6):1001-12.
  18. Das PC, Patra A, Mandal S, Mallick B, Das A, Chatterjee A. Cleogynol, a novel dammarane triterpenoid from Cleome gynandra. J Nat Prod. 1999 Apr;62(4):616-8.

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