Growing up as a tomboy in Florida, I often played outside. I was always in trees, playing in the dirt, or even making flower chains with our native wildflowers. One of the flowers I used for these chains was Frog Fruit or Phyla nodiflora.
Frog Fruit is a creeping herb often used as a ground cover. It’s stems extend from 15 to 30 centimeters and it tends to root at the nodes. The leaves are numerous, nearly without stalks, obovate, 1 to 2.5 centimeters long, with a blunt or rounded tip, with sharply toothed margins on the upper half, and a wedge-shaped base. The flowers are very small, pink or white, crowded in ovoid or cylindric spikes, 1 to 2.5 centimeters long, and about 6 millimeters in diameter. The corolla consists of a slender and cylindric tube, about 3 millimeters long, with a limb that is 2.5 millimeters wide, opening at the apex as it lengthens. Spikes appear at the ends of stalks, growing singly from the axils of the leaves.
We have four species here in Florida. Phyla stoechadifolia is a small, woody shrub that grows up to 2 feet tall. P. lanceolata is fairly rare and only found in a few counties (Calhoun, Escambia, Gadsden, Jackson, and Liberty), all of which are in North Florida. It also only really blooms during Spring and early Summer. P. fruticosa is even rarer and has only been found in a single county in Florida, Miami-Dade. The most commonly found species in Florida is Phyla nodiflora. This plant used to be in the Lippia genus, so you will occasionally find information about Lippia nodiflora, just know that it’s the same plant. The Phyla genus is found within the Verbenaceae or Verbena family, which is in the Lamiales order. The same order where the Lamiaceae or Mint family is found. So these herbs are cousins to mint, lavender, and all the Lamiaceae family herbs.
Frog Fruit is an important plant for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it is an important larval host for a number of our native pollinators. The most common butterflies that depend on Frog Fruit are the Phaon Crescent (Phyciodes phaon), White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae), Barred Sulphur (Eurema daira), and Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia). It’s also an important food source for an even larger number of native bees, butterflies, and other pollinators here in Florida.
If you follow me on social media, you might know that I recently shot a video all about this little flower. Check it out here.
Common Names- Frog Fruit, Turkey Tangle Fogfruit, Match Head, Match Flower, Creeping Lip, Purple Lippa, Sawtooth Frogfruit, Turkey Tangle, Cape Weed
Scientific Name- Phyla fruticosa, P. lanceolata, P. nodiflora, and P. stoechadifolia.
Edibility- The leaves are often used as a tea substitute, though it does have a “grassy” taste. The leaves are edible cooked. It’s often recommended to boil them.
Summary of Actions- Alexeteric, Analgesic, Anodyne, Anthelmintic, Antibacterial, Antifungal, Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Antioxidant, Antipyretic, Antiseptic, Antitumor, Antitussive, Anti-urolithiatic, Aphrodisiac, Astringent, Carminative, Demulcent, Deobstruent, Diuretic, Emmenagogue, Febrifuge, Nociceptive, Parasiticide, Refrigerant, Spasmolytic
Parts Used- The whole plant is used.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Known as Guo Jiang Teng, this herb Clears Wind-Heat. Helping to treat a variety of blood diseases, fevers, malaria, vertigo, fainting, and thirst. It is also used for diarrhea, dysentery, gonorrhea, boils, abscesses, herpes, and burning sensations during urination.
Ayurveda- Known as Jalpapli, an infusion of this herb is given to women after childbirth to help stimulate healing. It also Clears Heat and Resists Poison. It’s often used in similar ways to it’s used in TCM.
Digestion- Phyla nodiflora is a great bitter herb, helping to improve digestion and ease stomach troubles. The juice of the root is often used as a bitter tonic and to ease gastric irritation. An infusion of the leaves and/or stalks is often given to children for “tummy upsets.” A decoction or infusion of the whole plant can also be helpful for gastric ulcers.
Kidney Stones- Frog Fruit has amazing anti-urolithiatic properties, which helps to prevent the formation of kidney stones. However, it not only prevents kidney stone formation but it also effectively treats existing stones.
Fever, Cold, & Cough- The juice of this herb is used to help cool down those with fevers, especially in the case of malaria. The whole plant can also be steamed and inhaled to help treat cough and the common cold.
Wound Care, Burns, & Boils- Phyla nodiflora has wonderful antibacterial properties. Combined with its tendency to speed up healing, this makes it an ideal plant for wounds. It’s traditionally applied as a poultice and can also be used to soothe burns as it also has cooling, or demulcent, properties. A paste from the fresh plant can also be applied to boils as a suppurant, helping them come to a head and heal faster.
Skin Care- A ground paste of the leaves is a traditional treatment for acne and pimples. It is also used to treat chickenpox, dermatosis, eczema, leprosy, scabies, and minor wounds.
Dandruff- There are two traditional treatments for dandruff that use Frog Fruit.
• Hair Oil - boil coconut oil with fresh Frog Fruit leaves until it loses its water content. Remove from heat, cool, and strain. Use it as a hair oil to get rid of dandruff, also doubles as a moisturizing oil treatment. Massage it onto the scalp and leave it on for 2 hours before rinsing/washing.
• Hair Pack - take Frog Fruit powder (enough to make a paste to cover the whole head) in a bowl, add in enough rice water and 1/4 tsp of coconut oil to it and apply as a hair pack. Wait for 30 minutes before washing.
Joint Pain- Frog Fruit has amazing anti-inflammatory properties. A poultice can be used for treating joint pain and stiffness. Simply apply the poultice to the afflicted joint and elevate it for 30 minutes.
Hemorrhoids- This herb is a traditional remedy for hemorrhoids. Crush the fresh plant, mix it with water, and drain. This is typically taken on an empty stomach daily for about one week.
Diabetes- Phyla nodiflora has anti-diabetic properties. Helping to lower blood sugar. This makes it a very effective natural remedy for reducing blood sugar levels. It’s also a diuretic, helping to reduce water retention which can also help with diabetes.
Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- Since this herb does have an effect on insulin levels, consult with your doctor prior to adding it into your daily routine if you are already taking diabetic medications or are a diabetic. Avoid this herb if you are pregnant.
I only included a basic introduction to this wonderful Florida native. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram or updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!
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7 Top Medicinal Uses of Phyla Nodiflora: Wild Turmeric: https://www.wildturmeric.net/phyla-nodiflora-poduthalai-medicinal-uses-health-benefits/
A Review on Phyla nodiflora Linn. A Wild Wetland Medicinal Herb: Global Research Online: http://globalresearchonline.net/journalcontents/v20-1/11.pdf
Busbusi: Philippine Medicinal Plants: http://www.stuartxchange.com/Busbusi.html
Frog Fruit: Natural medicinal Herbs: http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/p/phyla-nodiflora=frogfruit.php
Frog Fruit or Match Head?: Eat The Weeds: http://www.eattheweeds.com/frog-fruit-or-match-head/
Phyla Nodiflora: Folk Medicine Sindh: http://folkmedsindh.com.pk/phyla-nodiflora-l/
Phyla Nodiflora: Herbpathy: https://herbpathy.com/Uses-and-Benefits-of-Phyla-Nodiflora-Cid1173
Phyla Nodiflora: Plants for a Future: https://pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?latinname=Phyla+nodiflora
Phyla Nodiflora: Useful Tropical Plants: http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Phyla+nodiflora
Phyla Nodiflora, Jalapippali: Medicine Traditions: https://www.medicinetraditions.com/phyla-nodiflora-jalapippali.html
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