Phyllanthus airy-shawii Jean F.Brunel & J.P.Roux, Nordic J. Bot. 4: 470 1984;

Erect herbs to 50 cm tall; stem angled; branches 6-14 cm long. Leaves 1-2 x 0.3 -0.5 cm, elliptic or elliptic-oblong, base attenuate or broadly cuneate, apex obtuse or acute, lower surface subglaucous, subsessile; stipules c. 2 mm long, lanceolate, acuminate. Male flowers towards tip of branchlets, clustered at axils; tepals 6, in 1 series, 1-1.5 mm long, obovate, hyaline; disc-glands 6, roundish; stamens 3, on a staminal column formed of connate filaments. Female flowers solitary; pedicels c. 2 mm long; tepals 6, c. 2 mm long, elliptic-oblong, margin hyaline; disc saucer-form, faintly 6-lobed; ovary c. 1 mm long; style-arms recurved. Capsule 2-3 mm across, globose, smooth. Seeds 6, trigonous, longitudinally striate.

Flowering and fruiting: July-January
Degraded moist deciduous forests and forest plantations, also in the plains
Peninsular India and Sri Lanka
(Attributions- Dr. N Sasidharan (Dr. B P Pal Fellow), Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi from India Biodiversity Portal )


Phyllanthus sp for ID confirmation : 7 posts by 3 authors. Attachments (2)

Collected from a village near Jodhpur

Appears to be Phyllanthus airyshawii Brunel & J.P. Roux. Close-up of flowers and fruits would have helped.

May I request you to pl. send close up.

Phyllanthus airy-shawii is shown as a syn. of Phyllanthus kozhikodianus Sivar. & Manilal, J. Indian Bot. Soc. 56: 165 (1977). in WCSP & Catalogue of Life

I feel pity for the websites that you have mentioned!

Phyllanthus kozhikodianus Sivar. & Manilal itself is a synonym of P. rheedei Wight.
As regards P. airyshawii Brunel & J.P. Roux, the spelling of the species name can go without a hyphen between airy and shawii (Art. 60.9 of the ICN). Next, this is a distinct species and it even replaced P. debilis Wall. ex Hook.f. of the Flora of British India (1887).
The easiest way to recognize P. airyshawii is that the proximal leaves of a given branchlet in this species are more than double in the size than the distal leaves of the same branchlet (apart from other characters).  The images posted  here clearly depict this feature.

I have examined the types of all the above names and therefore I have no hesitation is calling the present images as Phyllanthus airyshawii Brunel & J.P. Roux.

Here perianth members are 6 as in the case of Phyllanthus debilis., leaves are broader and shorter.



ID-DKB178 : Attachments (2). 12 posts by 5 authors.

Plant from Virat nagar Forest Jaipur

For ID(ID-DKB178)

It is Phyllanthus?

Photo Taken on-26.8.2009

this is Phyllanthus amarus (भुईआवळी)
Family :- Phyllanthaceae

I think Phyllanthus reticulatus

Phyllanthus amarus

commonly known as: black catnip, carry me seed, child pick-a-back, gale of wind, gulf leaf flower, hurricane weed, shatterstone, stone breaker • Bengali: bhui amla • Hindi: bhui aonla, jar amla, jangli amli • Kannada: kirunelli, nelanelli • Marathi: भुईआवळी bhuiavali • Sanskrit: bahupatra, भूम्यामलकी bhumyaamalaki, jar amla, thamalaki • Tamil: கீழாநெல்லி keelanelli, கீழ்காய்நெல்லி kizkaynelli • Telugu: నేల ఉసిరి nela usiri

I thought the plant photographed by … appeared to be shrubby, and fruits larger and black– hence my guess about reticulatus.
P. niruri Linn, P. amarus and P. fraternus are three distinct species, but Indian specimens don’t belong to P. niruri rather P. fraternus. P. niruri thus is not synonym of P. amarus (not P. niruri Linn or P. niruri Hook.f.).
P. fraternus has larger leaves and 6 perianth, male and female fls in different axils (male in lower axils, female in our axils), and 6-10 lobed disc.
P. amarus has smaller leaves (yours are larger than mine P. fraternus hence the doubt), perianth 5 and 5-lobed disc.

…, the leaves in the photo attached by me are about 12 – 15 mm long, and about 5 – 8 mm wide … the fruits seen are about 2 – 3 mm.

I am believing it to be P. amarus, and also P. niruri as its synonym.
However, I am keen to know whether I am mistaking, especially because there is too much mix up of P. amarusP. niruri, and P. fraternus on the internet …though whatever is discussed seemingly contradict.
Any clarity for differentiating these three species will greatly help in thrashing confusion and mistakes on the internet.

Phyllanthus fraternus (with P. niruri Hook.f. non Linn. as syn) and P. amarus are both described in Eflora of Pakistan. Latter is described in Eflora of China, who mention that it was formerly misidentified as P. niruri.
Presence of 5 perianth (as against 6 in P. fraternus), each leaf axil (most middle) with one male and one female flower (female flowers single in leaf axils in P. fraternus), disc 5 lobed (as against 6-10 lobed) are quite characteristic of P. amarus. Leaves are described as 3-8 x 2-4.5 mm in Eflora of Pakistan, 3-6 x 1.5-3 mm in Flora of China. Your plant with larger leaves could be different species.
P. fraternus grows around my house and I have observed it constantly.
Let us explore further

thank you very much for pointing info of the species.

So is it correct that … plant is P. fraternus ?

I think your plant is still unidentified. It has two clear features of P. amarus: male and female fls in same axils (most middle ones), and the leaves are much larger and broader, and one more things which I notice, your plant seems to be distinctly pubescent, and of diiferent colour (than my plant of P. fraternus, or plant of …). I think we will explore further before confirmation. It could be P. rotundifolius (if cataphylls are present- note small appendages in my photograph showing upper view of P. fraternus) or else Maderaspatensis (if cataphylls are absent). To me … plant fits better with P. maderaspatensis, but I am not certain at present. Before we resolve let us look at the following things, if you can find fresh plants. (There is, however, one caution. The plants flowering these days (at least in P. fraternus) have smaller leaves than ones I photographed in May-June):
1. whether plant is herbaceous or woody
2. presence or absence of pubescence
3. colour of leaves (yours are light green, mine and Dinesh ji’s dark green)
4. Chape of leaves (that can be judged from photgraph)
5. Size of leaves
6. Whether middle portion has only female flowers, or mixed male and female
7. Number of perianth (some call them sepals), 6 in two whorls or 5 in one whorl
8. Tip of perianth pointed or rounded
9. Size of perianth
10. Size, shape and colour of fruits
11. Number of lobes of disc
12. Length of pedicel of female flower and fruit
For me even … plant may turn out to be different. It has much more rigid leaves, even the branches appear rigid, leaves dark green. We may have to look at cataphylls to decide finally.
Let us hope something interesting comes out

According to Kew World Checklist ( )

Phyllanthus amarus has the following synonyms:
Phyllanthus niruri var. amarus
Phyllanthus niruri var. scabrellus
Phyllanthus niruri var. baronianus
among others. Is supposed to be distributed (after introduction) in parts of India.Phyllanthus niruri’s distribution in the Kew World Checklist does not mention India

I think I have not been able to explain things clearly. I never wrote that P. niruri grows in India. P. ninuri was wrongly identified in Flora of British India, and Indian specimens were subsequently identified as P.
 (Maheshwari, Flora of Delhi; Eflora of Pakistan; Useful plants of India, etc) and hence the synonym as P. niruri Hook.f. (non Linn.). It occurs in India and Pakistan- now naturalised elsewhere (also see BalaKrishnan- family Euphorbiaceae in India; Wealth of India). So no confusion about P. fraternus and P. niruri.

Now coming to P. amarus is an american species now naturalised in Tropical Old World, including India, China and Japan. The specimens were/are sometimes confused with P. niruri/P. fraternus/P. urinaria but is easily
distinguished by smaller leaves, lateral veins usually 3 pairs, male and female flowers in same axil, perianth (sepals) 5 in number and disc 5-lobed. It has two subspecies in China ssp. amarus (annual plants, erect) and ssp. sanyaensis (biennial or perennial, trailing or prostrate.
Both P. fraternus and P. urinaria have 6 perianth, leaves of former being glabrous, fruit glabrous, that of latter hispidulus along margin and fruit tuberculate.
Both P. fraternus and P. amarus are illustrated in Eflora of Pakistan.

I think there should be no confusion between P fraternus and P. amarus. Both occur in India.

Phyllanthus debelis

Yes …!

This is Phyllanthus airyshawii.




References: The Plant List Ver.1.1 WCSP  IPNI  Catalogue of Life  GBIF (with type specimen) India Biodiversity Portal  Encyclopedia of Life (specimen) IBIS Flora  Kerala plants  Floristic Diversity of Assam: Study of Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary By Bora, Yogendra Kumar (2006- details with keys)

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