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Sida cordifolia L.

 Sp. pl. 2: 684 (1753).
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Chromosome number  
 2n = 28
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Vernacular names  
 Flannel weed, heart-leaf sida, Indian ephedra (En). Balai poilu, herbe à paniers, sida à feuilles en cœur (Fr). Guanxuma (Po). Mgaaga paka (Sw).
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Origin and geographic distribution  
 Sida cordifolia is a tropical species with 2 subspecies with respectively an African-American and an Asian origin. It is very widespread in tropical Africa and the Asian subspecies is still on the increase in Africa, especially at low altitudes. In India Sida cordifolia is cultivated as a fibre plant.
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 The bark yields fibres that are used for making cordage. Domestication for commercial production of fibres has been attempted in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. In DR Congo the stems are used in basketry. Use of the entire plant or branched stems as brooms is widespread.
In Nigeria the leaves are cooked as a vegetable. The foliage is eaten by livestock throughout West Africa and in northern Nigeria it is valued as a fattening feed for horses. Pounding the leaves yields a glue that is used in Tanzania to seal leaking pots, while in Nigeria this glue is used as an ingredient of arrow-poison.
In traditional medicine in Benin the whole plant is used as a cure for cancer and leukaemia, the seeds are a cure for infections and the roots cure urinary tract problems and fever. The powdered whole plant is applied to open wounds of horses in Niger. In Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Kenya, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines the leaves are taken as a cure for dysentery. The pounded leaves are applied as a poultice to sprains and swellings and a leaf decoction is drunk for control of intestinal worms. In DR Congo a leaf infusion is given to children in case of rheumatism, lung disorders and fever. In Rwanda the leaf extract is used for curing pneumonia and syphilis. In Mauritius plant sap is diluted and drunk to relieve colic and a leaf decoction is a cure for cystitis, and is used as an astringent and diuretic. To cure eye inflammation a root macerate is applied to the eyelids in Burkina Faso, while in Tanzania a root preparation is applied and in Malaysia the leaves are applied for this purpose. The juice of the whole plant pounded with a little water is given for spermatorrhoea. In the Central African Republic and in Kenya the root extract is drunk to induce abortion. Women chew the bark to encourage menstruation. An infusion of the roots is given for diseases such as hemiplegia and facial paralysis, for asthma as well as for disorders of the blood and bile. Powdered root bark is given with milk and sugar to persons suffering from leucorrhoea. The seeds are considered to have aphrodisiac properties and are used as a cure for gonorrhoea, cystitis, and colic.
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Production and international trade  
 Sida cordifolia is traded for medicinal purposes at the local level and via Internet.
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 The roots of Sida cordifolia are very mucilaginous, and contain the chinazoline alkaloid vasicine (peganine). Aerial parts can contain ephedrine, pseudo-ephedrine and vasicine. The stem bark of plants from different provenances within India yielded in some cases zero vasicine while in others vasicine was the main alkaloid. Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine varied between provenances in the same way. The seeds contain up to 0.3% alkaloids, mainly ephedrine, and 30% oil containing the cocarcinogenic acid coronaric acid. Pharmacological effects of extracts of the plant include: antiprotozoal activity of an ethanolic extract against Entamoeba histolytica and decrease of blood pressure in cats and dogs. Furthermore, an extract of the aerial parts and the roots show analgesic, anti-inflammatory and hypoglycaemic activities. The methanolic and aqueous extracts of whole plants showed significant activity against CCl4-, paracetamol- and rifampicin-induced hepatotoxicity.
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Adulterations and substitutes  
 Decoctions of the roots and leaves of Abutilon, Triumfetta and Urena species are used as an emollient in the same way as those of Sida species.
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 Erect annual or perennial herb or shrublet up to 1.5 m tall; stems with stellate hairs, with or without long, simple hairs, becoming glabrous. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules filiform, 2.5 mm long; petiole 1–5.5 cm long; blade broadly ovate to round, 3–8 cm × 1–8 cm, cordate to rounded at the base, acute to rounded at the apex, margin toothed, upper surface stellate-pubescent, lower surface thinly to thickly velvety tomentose. Flowers axillary and solitary or in clusters at the end of lateral branches, or forming terminal panicles, bisexual, regular; pedicel 4–20 mm long, jointed near apex; epicalyx absent; calyx 5-lobed to the middle, 4–8 mm long; petals 5, yellow, 6–8 mm long; staminal column c. 3 mm long, hairy; ovary superior. Fruit a subglobose schizocarp of 8–10 follicle-like mericarps; mericarps 3–5 mm long, lower part reticulately sculptured, with a pair of 3–6 mm long, retrorsely armed awns, black, 2–3-seeded. Seeds c. 2.5 mm in diameter, glabrous except for some short hairs towards the hilum.
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Other botanical information  
 Sida comprises c. 200 species, distributed in the tropics and subtropics. It has been suggested that on the basis of the morphological and geographical diversity, Sida could be of polyphyletic origin. It is morphologically fairly close to Abutilon and Wissadula, and all lack the epicalyx. Two subspecies are distinguished in Sida cordifolia. The typical subspecies has long simple spreading hairs and originates in Asia where it is mainly found in coastal areas. This subspecies has become naturalized in many African countries and is the sole subspecies occurring in Somalia. Sida cordifolia subsp. maculata (Cav.) Marais lacks the long simple spreading hairs and is native to tropical Africa and America and on the increase in tropical Asia.
Several other species of Sida produce useful fibres. Sida alba L. is a widely distributed weedy species of tropical Africa, South Africa, Arabia, India and America and is often found in disturbed places. The bark fibre is used for cordage, the stems are used for cleaning teeth and stems tied together are used as brooms. In Malawi the stems are used for tying in roof construction and the leaves are cooked and eaten as a vegetable. The leaves are browsed by goats (Kenya) and horses and donkeys (Sudan). In Senegal an infusion of leaves and roots is drunk to cure dysentery and to increase the energy of recovering patients. In Kenya the leaves are chewed and the sap is swallowed after a snakebite. In Benin a mixture of pounded leaves with shea butter is rubbed on a painful lower-back.
Sida linifolia Juss. ex Cav. is distributed from Mauritania and Senegal to the Central African Republic, DR Congo, Uganda, Tanzania and Angola, as well as in tropical America and Kerala (India). In Gabon the stems are used for brooms. In Côte d’Ivoire the whole plant is considered as a cure for male sterility. Its aerial parts appear to play a role in women’s health as a contraceptive, abortifacient and as a cure for uterine fibroma. In Kenya women chew the root bark daily during pregnancy to ease the expulsion of the placenta. Wounds and ulcers are treated in Nigeria with dressings of stem and root paste. In Togo leaf pulp is applied to abscesses and leaf sap is rubbed into the skin rash caused by chickenpox. In DR Congo dressings of leaf paste are applied for skin diseases. A leaf decoction is drunk in Togo to relieve lumbar pain and in Benin as a cure for jaundice. Twig sap is drunk as a remedy for anxiety.
Sida urens L. (‘nettle-leaved sida’) is widely distributed in tropical Africa, tropical America and the West Indies and has been introduced in Réunion and New Caledonia. The bark yields a good quality fibre. The fresh leaves, alone or in mixtures, are taken as an aphrodisiac in Côte d’Ivoire.
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 In a transverse section of the stem, the bast fibres occur in a circle of rectangular wedges, with c. 28 fibre bundles per wedge. The bundles are square, rectangular to irregular in shape, but uniformly distributed, with c. 24 cells per bundle.
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Growth and development  
 Sida cordifolia is considered a noxious weed in many crops and pastures, because of the tough stems and the ability to grow fast from seed. When water is available it flowers throughout the year and flowers open in the morning and wither in the afternoon. In Benin Sida cordifolia flowers and fruits from August to November.
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 Sida cordifolia grows on drier sandy locations, from sea-level up to 1700 m altitude. It is a weed of cultivation, fallow and roadsides, often locally abundant.
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Propagation and planting  
 Sida cordifolia produces large amounts of seed and can be easily propagated by seed.
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 There is a vast amount of literature on the control of Sida cordifolia as a weed but little is published on cultivation for fibre production.
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Diseases and pests  
 Mycoplasma-type organisms cause yellow symptoms on Sida cordifolia in Burkina Faso. It is a common host for several nematodes, including Meloidogyne incognita.
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 In tropical Africa Sida cordifolia is nowadays only collected from the wild and usually whole plants are harvested, including the roots.
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 Fibre yields of 730 kg/ha have been recorded in DR Congo. In experiments in Rwanda in the 1950s fibre yields of 600–860 kg/ha were obtained, with the fresh, defoliated stems yielding 4.0–4.2% fibre after 6 days of retting.
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Handling after harvest  
 The fibre can be extracted by retting the stem in water. Fresh use of Sida cordifolia as a medicinal plant is most common but drying and subsequent storage before use is practiced as well.
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Genetic resources and breeding  
 Sida cordifolia is widely distributed, also as a weed, and is locally rather common in open and disturbed areas. It is not likely to succumb to the threats of genetic erosion. The extreme variation in properties, especially in content of different alkaloids, would make it imperative that this is taken up in a taxonomic study if the species is to be used more rationally for medicinal purposes.
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 Sida cordifolia will only continue to play a role locally in the production of fibres. It might be of interest as a local industrial source of the alkaloid ephedrine. However, ephedrine can also be produced synthetically, and its use in medicine is rapidly becoming obsolete.
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Major references  
 • Balu Perumal, 2001. Sida L. In: van Valkenburg, J.L.C.H. & Bunyapraphatsara, N. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 496–500.
• Boiteau, P., Boiteau, M. & Allorge-Boiteau, L., 1999. Dictionnaire des noms malgaches de végétaux. 4 Volumes + Index des noms scientifiques avec leurs équivalents malgaches. Editions Alzieu, Grenoble, France.
• Burkill, H.M., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 969 pp.
• Hochreutiner, B.P.G., 1955. Malvacées (Malvaceae). Flore de Madagascar et des Comores (plantes vasculaires), familles 129–130. Firmin-Didot et cie., Paris, France. 170 pp.
• Kirby, R.H., 1963. Vegetable fibres: botany, cultivation, and utilization. Leonard Hill, London, United Kingdom & Interscience Publishers, New York, United States. 464 pp.
• Lejeune, J.B.H., 1953. Contribution à l'étude des plantes à fibres, à Rubona. Bulletin Agricole du Congo Belge 44: 743–772.
• Marais, W., 1984. Notes on Mascarene Malvaceae. Kew Bulletin 38: 41–46.
• Verdcourt, B. & Mwachala, G.M., 2009. Malvaceae. In: Beentje, H.J. & Ghazanfar, S.A. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 169 pp.
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Other references  
 • Adam, J.G., Echard, N. & Lescot, M., 1972. Plantes médicinales Hausa de l’Ader. Journal d’Agriculture Tropicale et de Botanique Appliquée 19(8–9): 259–399.
• Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (Editors), 2006. Flore analytique du Bénin. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. 1034 pp.
• Bhat, R.B., Etejere, E.O. & Oladipo, V.T., 1990. Ethnobotanical studies from Central Nigeria. Economic Botany 44(3): 382–390.
• Brochmann, C. & Rustan, Ø.H., 2002. Additions to the vascular flora of Cabo Verde 4. Garcia de Orta, Série de Botânica 16(1–2): 5–31.
• Bruneton, J., 1995. Pharmacognosy, phytochemistry, medicinal plants. Technique & Documentation Lavoisier, Paris, France. 915 pp.
• Exell, A.W. & Meeuse, A.D.J., 1961. Malvaceae. In: Exell, A.W. & Wild, H. (Editors). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 1, part 2. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 420–511.
• Gurib-Fakim, A., Guého, J. & Bissoondoyal, M.D., 1996. Plantes médicinales de Maurice, tome 2. Editions de l’Océan Indien, Rose-Hill, Mauritius. 532 pp.
• Kanth, V.R. & Diwan, P.V., 1999. Analgesic, antiinflammatory and hypoglycaemic activities of Sida cordifolia. Phytotherapy Research 13(1): 75–77.
• Maiti, R.K., 1979. A study of the microscopic structure of the fiber strands of common Indian bast fibers and its economic implications. Economic Botany 33(1): 78–87.
• Maiti, R., 1997. World fiber crops. Science Publishers, Enfield, New Hampshire, United States. 208 pp.
• Marais, W. & Friedmann, F., 1987. Malvacées. In: Bosser, J., Cadet, T., Guého, J. & Marais, W. (Editors). Flore des Mascareignes. Familles 51–62. The Sugar Industry Research Institute, Mauritius, l’Office de la Recherche Scientifique Outre-Mer, Paris, France & Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 57 pp.
• Muanza, D.N., Euler, K.L., Williams, L. & Newman, D.J., 1995. Screening for antitumor anti-HIV activities of nine medicinal plants from Zaire. International Journal of Pharmacognosy 33: 98–106.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 1998. Afrikanische Arzneipflanzen und Jagdgifte. Chemie, Pharmakologie, Toxikologie. 2nd Edition. Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, Stuttgart, Germany. 960 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Nwobodo, O., Nwafia, W.C., Ezeigbo, J.C. & Onwughalu, J., 1996. The post-coital contraceptive activity of Sida linifolia. Fitoterapia 67: 291–293.
• Perrotta, D.M., Coody, G. & Culmo, C., 1996. Adverse events associated with ephedrine-containing products. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly 45(32): 689–691.
• Rao, K.S. & Mishra, S.H., 1988. Antihepatotoxic activity of Sida cordifolia whole plant. Fitoterapia 69(1): 20–23.
• Ugborogho, R.E., 1983. Evolution of Sida L. (Malvaceae) in West Africa. Bulletin du Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, séries 4, 5, section B, Adansonia 1: 93–102.
• van Borssum-Waalkes, J., 1966. Malesian Malvaceae revised. Blumea 14: 1–251.
• Williamson, J., 1955. Useful plants of Nyasaland. The Government Printer, Zomba, Nyasaland. 168 pp.
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Afriref references  
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Sources of illustration  
 • Marais, W. & Friedmann, F., 1987. Malvacées. In: Bosser, J., Cadet, T., Guého, J. & Marais, W. (Editors). Flore des Mascareignes. Familles 51–62. The Sugar Industry Research Institute, Mauritius, l’Office de la Recherche Scientifique Outre-Mer, Paris, France & Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 57 pp.
• Thulin, M., 1999. Malvaceae. In: Thulin, M. (Editor). Flora of Somalia. Volume 2. Angiospermae (Tiliaceae-Apiaceae). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. pp. 40–83.
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H.P. Bourobou Bourobou
Herbier National du Gabon, IPHAMETRA/CENAREST, B.P. 842, Libreville, Gabon
Based on PROSEA 12(2): ‘Medicinal and poisonous plants 2’.

M. Brink
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
E.G. Achigan Dako
PROTA Network Office Africa, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), P.O. Box 30677-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
Photo editor  
G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
Correct citation of this article  
 Bourobou Bourobou, H.P., 2011. Sida cordifolia L. [Internet] Record from PROTA4U. Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. <>. Accessed .

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General importance
Geographic coverage Africa
Geographic coverage World
Forage/feed use
Timber use
Carbohydrate/starch use
Medicinal use
Essential oil and exudate use
Fibre use
Food security

Sida cordifolia

Sida cordifolia
1, flowering and fruiting branch; 2, fruits; 3, mericarp.
Redrawn and adapted by Achmad Satiri Nurhaman

Sida cordifolia
Sida cordifolia

Sida cordifolia
Sida cordifolia

Sida cordifolia

obtained from Plants of Hawaii

Sida cordifolia
Sida cordifolia

Sida cordifolia
Sida cordifolia

Sida cordifolia
Sida cordifolia

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