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Family Acanthatceae
Madre de agua
Trichanthera gigantea (Bonpl.) Nees

Scientific names Common names
Ruellia gigantea Bonpl. Bilang kumpay (Tag.)
Trichanthera gigantea (Bonpl.) Nees. Kantera (Tag.)
Trichanthera gigantea var. giganteaguiaianensis Gleason Madre de agua (Phil., Span.)
Trichanthera angularis Raf. Nacedero (Ilk.)
Besleria surinamensis Miq. Giant trichanthera (Engl.)
Besleria verrucosa (Splitg. ex de Vriese) Pulle White rim (Engl.)
Trianthera gigantea (Bonpl.) Nees is an accepted name. KEWL Plantw of the World Online

Other vernacular names
PORTUGUESE:: Beque, Holy pau.
SPANISH: Arbol de agua, Aro Cafetero, Cafeto, Cajeto, Cenicero, Chumbaguas, Cochayuyo, Cuchayuyo, Cuchayuyo, Cuchiyuyo, Cuchuyuyo, Fune, Güiban, Madre de agua, Madreagua, Nacedera, Nacedero, Nacero, Palo de agua, Paloesal, Quiebrabarriga, Quiebrabarrigo, Rompebarrigo, Sanantigue, Sietenudos , Suiban, Tumbaguas, Yatago, Zanca de araña. (1)

Gen info
- Etymology: Genus name
'Trichanthera' is Latin, meaning 'hairy anther.'
- The common name "Madre de agua" refers to its use in Latin America to protect water courses, where it is planted abundantly around springs, river banks, and wells to prevent water erosion. (4)

Trichanthera gigantea is a small to medium sized shrub, usually about 5 meters high but can grow to a height of 12-15 m. Crown 6 m in diameter. Branches are many, quadrangular with minutely haired tips. Leaves are opposite, borne on 1-5 cm long petioles. Leaf blades are 26 cm long and 14 cm wide, ovate to oblong, dark green on the upper surface and paler on the underside. Inflorescences are compact terminal panicles bearing 12-20 bell-like flowers. Corolla is 3-4 cm long, red at the base, becoming yellow at the throat. Flowers Flower have conspicuous, long, hairy anthers. Fruits are dehiscent, woody capsules, containing between 4 to 40 seeds, which split open once the seeds mature. Like all plants of the Acanthaceae family, T. gigantea forms cystoliths, which are small mineral concretions that appear as minute small lines on the upper surface of the leaves, the upper portions of the stems on the branches of the inflorescences and on the calyx. (4)

- Introduced.
- Native to Brazil, Columbia. Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela.
- Successfully introduced to
Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
- It can be cultivated from sea level to 2000 m.

- Nutritive study of Madre de agua leaf meal for pigs yielded 88.44% dry matter, 18.21% crude protein, 12.5% crude fiber, 2.66% crude fat, 21.60% ash, 11.56% moisture, 5% calcium, 0.41% total phosphorus and 2,983 kcal/kg gross energy.
- Nacedero is relatively rich in protein (12-22% DM). Most of the crude protein is true protein and the balance of amino acid appears to be good. The ash content (often more than 20% DM) and more specifically the calcium content have been found to be particularly high compared with other fodder trees. This may be attributed to the presence of cystoliths in the leaves, which may help explain why, i farms in Columbia, it is used as a lactogenic drink with a potential for feeding lactating animals. The fiber content is extremely variable with NDF values in the range of 33 to 66% of DM. (4)

Considered nutritive, lactogenic.

Parts used


- Sprouts are edible. Used in the preparation of maize porridge. (4)
- Leaf decoction used for stomach aches.
- Used for treatment of nephritis, as blood tonic, and as a lactogenic drink for nursing mothers. (4)
- Fodder: A livestock feed; traditionally used as fodder for pigs and rabbits.
Compared to other tree foliages,it appears more palatable to pigs and rabbits than to small ruminants. Leaves and green stems about 8 to 9 month after planting, and, thereafter, at intervals of two to four months, with an annual fresh biomass yield of about 60 tonnes/ha, containing about 10 tonnes of dry matter and 2 tonnes of protein. Its invitro and in sacco fermentaility suggests great potential as livestock feed. (2)
- Agroforestry: Planted for erosion control and afforestation programmes. Used as a living fence to prevent soil erosion.
- Veterinary: In Columbia, leaves used to treat horse colic and retained placenta in cows.

there are many studies of T. gigantea relating to its veterinary use as fodder for pigs, rabbits and ruminants. There is a surprising dearth on studies relating to bioactivities.
• Leaf Meal Nutritive Analysis / Pig Fodder:
Study evaluated the nutritive potential of Madre de agua leaf meal feed for growing pigs. (see constituents above)

Cultivated as animal fodder.

June 2022

IMAGE SOURCE: Photo: Tichanthera Gigantea Leaves and flowers credits Dick Culbert / click on image go to source page / feedipedia

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Trichanthera gigantea (Bonpl.) Nees / Plants of the World Online

Trichanthera gigantea (Humboldt & Bonpland.) Nees: A review
/ Mauricio Rosales / Livestock Research for Rural Deve,opment, 1997; 9(4)
Utilization of Madre de Agua (Trichanthera gigantea var. guianensis) Leaf Meal as Feed for Growing -Finishing Pigs / A F Jaya, M I I Soriano et al / Philippine ournal of Veterinary abd Animal Sciences, 2008; 34(2)
Nacedero (Trichanthera gigantea) / Feedipedia
Trichanthera gigantea / Wikipedia

DOI: 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. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

                                                            List of Understudied Philippine Medicinal Plants

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