What is a weed? Euphorbia Hirta/ Asthma weed

Euphorbia Hirta

I once asked a horticulturalist, “what’s a weed”.  Her philosophical answer, “whatever you didnt plant”.

There’s much wisdom in that remark.

A course I attended at SBG on “Plants and their diseases” listed euphorbia hirta as a common weed.  They pop up uninvited in my pots. Propagated by seeds flying in the air.

In many parts of Asia though, euphorbia hirta is regarded as a medicinal plant or herb. It is used in Asia to treat bronchitis, asthma, cough and throat spasms. Hence, its common name, Asthma weed (NPark’s “10001 plants”. As I’m nursing my 100 day cough, I am very tempted to try this remedy.

The sap of the euphorbia, however, is toxic and an irritant on eyes and open wounds.  So how do you consume this without the sap?  High doses causes vomitting.

Around 10cm long, or taller, if left unattended, this weed is known in Malaysia as Ara Tanah. In Philippines, it is known as Tawa- Tawa. I was surprised to find a website promoting it as a herbal tea  and as dengue treatment.  Boil the weed (whole) minus roots. Drink the water when it turns green.

Sounds like the story of the ugly duckling all over again?

Every dog has its day. You just need to find the right family for your talent to be appreciated. So the common weed in your garden may be a herb in someone else’s.


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