Alternanthera sessilis: Sessile joyweed

Family: Amaranthaceae
Common name: Sessile joyweed, Dwarf copperleaf

It’s surprising that sessile joyweed is considered and aquatic plant, though it can survive in water only for a few days. In India, they are seen very commonly on hillsides, roadsides, parks, unoccupied land and along with other cultivation.

They are characterized by their tufts of white flowers that grow on all the nodes of the plant, covering the ground with white blooms. Sessile joyweed grows horizontally long the ground with thin long stems that only reaches a height of 1 meters, but spreads along the ground for several meters. The stem can also produce roots along the nodes enabling it to spread rapidly.

Sessile joyweed leaves are small, opposite, elongated oval and sometimes has thin hairs covering the surface. The term sessile comes from the flowers that grow on the stems, at the axil, without any stalk.

After blooming, they produce tiny, flattened seeds that turn brown when they mature and fall from the plant. Sessile joyweeds can grow in almost all types of soil – sandy, rocky, loamy, water-logged, even by the edges of ponds since they are technically aquatic plants.

These unassuming weeds have many medicinal and culinary uses. In South India, the leaves, stems and flowers are consumed as vegetable cooked like spinach leaves.

In herbal medicine, it is used in treatment of infertility, cancer, jaundice, hemorrhoids, skin infections, gastrointestinal issues, vomiting, menstrual disorders, hypertension, conjunctivitis and the list goes on and on. Sessile joyweed is also used regulate nervous system, control body heat, promote weight loss and improve overall health.

Propagation is from seeds and stem cuttings, since the plant roots easily at the nodes.

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