HOME      •      SEARCH      •      EMAIL    •     ABOUT

Family Camelinaceae
Rhoeo discolor (L'Her.) Hance

Scientific names Common names
Ephemerum bicolor Moench Bangka-bangkaan (Tag.)
Rhoeo spathacea (Sw.) Stearn Boat lily (Engl.)
Rhoeo discolor (L'Her.) Hance. Moses-in-the-cradle (Engl.)
Tradescantia discolor L'Her. Oyster plant (Engl.)
Tradescantia spathacea Sw. Rheo (Engl.)

Zi bei wan nian qing (Chin.)

Rhoeo discolor (L'Hér.) Hance is a synonym of Tradescantia spathacea Sw. The Plant List
Tradescantia spathacea Sw. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CUBAN: Cordoban.
KHMER: Toem pradl lk'
NIUEAN: Laupapaki.
SPANISH: Canoa Di San Pedro, Señoritas Embarcadas.
VIETNAMESE: Cay le ban, Lao ban, So huyet.

- Tradescantia is named after John Tradescant senior, gardener to Charles I. He collected the first tradescantia from Virginia in the USA. Spathacea refers to the spatula-like leaves. Its common names are Moses-in-the-cradle, Oyster Plant and Boat Lily.
- Moses in a Cradle: The small white three-petaled flowers (Moses) arise from within the boat-shaped purple bracts (the cradle) nestled between the leaf axils.

Bangka-bangkaan is a stout perennial herbaceous, somewhat fleshy plant, 0.5 meters in height or less, the stem thick and unbranched. Leaves are lanceolate, acuminate, 40 to 60 centimeters long, 4 to 6 centimeters wide, fleshy, the upper surface dark green, the lower purple.  Flowers are numerous in each inflorescence, fascicled, white, about 1 centimeter in diameter. Inflorescence, axillary, short, peduncled, the flowers surrounded by 2 large, imbricate, laterally compressed, distichous, 3 to 4 centimeters long purplish bracts.

- Ornamental cultivation.
- Scarcely established.

• Phytochemical studies yielded alkaloids, flavonoids, steroids, saponins, cardiac glycosides, terpenoids, tannin and phenolic compounds and oil

• Decongestant, expectorant, blood refrigerant, antidysenteric.
• Reported anti-inflammatory, anticancer, insecticidal, antimicrobial, antifertility properties.

Parts utilized
Flowers, leaves.
Collect the whole year round. Sun-dry.

· Used for cough, colds, hemoptysis, whooping cough, nose bleed.
· Bacillary dysentery, blood in the stool.
· Used for lymphatic tuberculosis.
· Dosage: use 30 to 60 gms fresh material, 15 to 84 gms dried material or 20 to 30 pieces dried material in decoction.
· In Singapore, sold in markets as both ornamental and medicinal: Boiled in water, it is believed to have cooling properties.

· In Thai medicine, used for fever, cough and bronchitis.
· In Cuba, frictions and cataplasms used to treat wounds. In the Caribbean, poultice of leaves used for asthma. (11)

Caution !
The plant sap is considered poisonous. Contact may cause stinging and itching of the skin and eyes. Ingestion may cause irritation of the lips, mouth, throat and abdominal pain.

Anti-tumor / Chemoprevention: Aqueous crude extract of Rhoeo discolor decreases the formation of liver preneoplastic foci in ratsIn Mexico, Rhoeo discolor has been used to treat cancer. A study was done to validate its antitumoral property. It showed a reduction of preneoplastic lesions and justifies continuing further studies for its chemoprevention potential. (1)
Antigenotoxic, antimutagenic and ROS scavenging activities: (1) Extensively used in traditionally medicine in Mexico for the treatment of superficial mycoses, a study was done to evaluate its antimutagenic and antigenotoxic activities. The extract was neither mutagenic nor genotoxic. It showed dome radical scavenging, less than a-tocopherol and more than ascorbic acid.
Antimutagenic Mechanism: Study of antimutagenic mechanisms showed the extract might be used to avoid DNA damage by alkylation, corrected alkylguanine transferase protein encoded with ogt gene. (5)
• ·Antimicrobial / Phytochemical Constituents : Phytochemical studies yielded alkaloids, flavonoids, steroids, saponins, cardiac glycosides, terpenoids, tannin and phenolic compounds and oil. Study showed good inhibitory activity with dose-dependent increase in effect. K pneumonia was found to be most susceptible. (4)


Last Updated November 2014

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Aqueous crude extract of Rhoeo discolor, a Mexican medicinal plant, decreases the formation of liver preneoplastic foci in rats / Tábata Rosales-Reyesa, Mireya de la Garza et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology • Volume 115, Issue 3, 12 February 2008, Pages 381-386 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2007.10.022
Antigenotoxic, antimutagenic and ROS scavenging activities of a Rhoeo discolor ethanolic crude extract / GONZALEZ-AVILA M. (1) ; ARRIAGA-ALBA M. et al
Anti-inflammatory activity of Ambrosia artemisiaefolia and Rheo spathacea
Phytomed / 22. Perez, G. R. M. (1996) / 3(2): 163-167.

Antimicrobial Properties and Phytochemical Constituents of Rheo discolor Hance./ Ethnobotanical Leaflets 12: 841-45. 2008.

Antimutagenicity mechanisms of the Rhoeo discolor ethanolic extract / Arriaga-Alba Myriam et al / Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology / doi:10.1016/j.etp.2010.01.001
Tradescantia spathacea Sw. / Chinese name / Catalogue of Life, China
Tradescantia spathacea (Boat Lily) / Common names / Zipcodezoo
Tradescantia spathacea / Flowers & Plants / Interflora
In vitro effects of Thai medicinal plants on human lymphocyte activity
/ Busarawan Sriwanthana, Weena Treesangsri, Bongkod Boriboontrakul, Somchit Niumsakul, and Pranee Chavalittumrong / Songklanakarin J. Sci. Technol. Vol.29 (Suppl. 1), March 2007 : Thai Herbs II
Rhoeo discolor (L'Hér.) Hance is a synonym of Tradescantia spathacea Sw. /The Plant List
Medicinal Knowledge in Cuba – domestic prescriptions using front and backyard biodiversity
/ Madaleno, Isabel Maria / Tropentag 2009 University of Hamburg, October 6-8, 2009 / Conference on International Research on Food Security, Natural Resource Management and Rural Development

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

HOME      •      SEARCH      •      EMAIL