Blue Porterweed – Seemakongini

Blue Porterweed is a small shrub with tiny purple flowers. As a wild plant, it is quite common in many parts of the world including India and theĀ West Indies. Its scientific name is Stachytarpheta jamaicensis. However, the variety found in India is usually regarded as S.indica. Both look almost identical and biologists are not sure whether they are the same species or not.

The shrub usually grows as a weed in plantations. It grows in abundance along the edges of fields and often overlooked. However, its medicinal properties are an answer to several ailments.

Blue Porterweed - Stachytarpheta jamaicensis
Blue Porterweed / Seemakongini / Narivalan – Photo from Kerala

Important Facts

Plant Type: Perennial Shrub
Family: Verbenaceae
Scientific name: Stachytarpheta jamaicensis / Stachytarpheta indica

Height: 2 to 4 ft
Flowers: small, blue to purple color

Distribution: Tropics

Common Names:
English: Blue Porterweed, Blue Snakeweed
Malayalam: Seemakongini, Narivali, Narivalan

Description

Being a small shrub, this plant usually grows to a height of 2 to 4 feet. There is an erect spike at the top of the woody stem on which the flowers appear. This peculiar arrangement helps to easily notice Porterweeds among other plants.

The flowers occur in groups on this spike which is about 30cm long and covered with scales. The flower is blue in color, occasionally with a purple hue. It is small in size yet beautiful and attracts butterflies.

The leaves are arranged opposite. They are oval with a glossy surface. The venations are prominent.

Flowers of Stachytarpheta jamaicensis
Flowers appear on a spike at the top
Blue Porterweed - Stachytarpheta jamaicensis
Leaves are glossy with groove-like venation
Blue Porterweed - Stachytarpheta jamaicensis
Close-up of the tiny flowers

Species Similar to Blue Porterweed

There are different species under the genus Stachytarpheta that look more or less the same. These include S.cayennensis (Dark Blue Porterweed), S.indica, S.jamaicensis (Light Blue). The flowers of S.cayennensis are darker than the other two. Based on that I think the photo I got is that of the latter.

Also known as Blue Snakeweed or Indian Snakeweed, its local name in Malayalam is Seemakongini. In some places, it is also called Narivali or Narivalan. This may be due to the resemblance of its stem to the tail of an animal.

There is also an alba variety with white flowers although it is not common. 

If it is not the correct Id, you can mention it in the comments.

Medicinal Uses

Since the plant contains several phytochemicals, it may possess several medicinal values. So far it has been common among traditional and folk medicines for curing different illnesses including fever and allergies.

Distribution

It is a tropical plant. Different species of Stachytarpheta are found in Americas, India and Australia. In India, Snakeweeds are common in the southern states.

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