Keezharnelli – Stonebreaker Plant

Keezharnelli or Keezhanelli is a small shrub widely found in the plains of Kerala, including roadsides and households. It is a medicinal herb growing up to about 30 cm of height.

Its flowers and fruits appear interesting. They hang below the leaves precisely in a line. So they are hidden at first glance. That is why it is called Keezharnelli in Malayalam – means berries beneath. Also, these flowers are very tiny, making them difficult to notice.

Keezharnelli - Stonebreaker Plant - Phyllanthus niruri
Keezharnelli / Stonebreaker Plant – Photos from Kottayam, Kerala
Keezharnelli Fruits & Flowers
Flowers & fruits sticking under the leaves

Keezharnelli belongs to the same family as Amla (Indian Gooseberry) – Phyllanthaceae.

Different Varieties

There are four varieties of plants from the Phyllanthaceae family considered as Keezhanelli.

  1. Phyllanthus niruri
  2. Phyllanthus fraternus
  3. Phyllanthus amarus
  4. Phyllanthus madaraspatensis

There are only small differences between these plants. P. amarus has five petals while P. fraternus has six petals. Also, the leaves of P. madaraspatensis are broad towards the tip.

Appearance

The plant grows upright to a height of 30 cm or higher. The stem is green or light red. Branches grow almost in an alternate fashion around the stem and are usually 10 cm or less in length.

The leaves are very small and sensitive to touch. They have a circular or oval shape. The tiny greenish-yellow flowers grow from below the leaf axils.

Fruits appear stuck to the branch. Each of them contains three seeds.

Phyllanthus niruri - Stonebreaker Plant - Gale of the Wind
Leaves are sensitive to touch
Phyllanthus niruri leaves
Leaves are arranged alternately

Medicinal Uses and Benefits

  • Keezharnelli is diuretic and can cure Pitta and Vata imbalances, according to Ayurveda.
  • It is used to cure stomach-ache and indigestion.
  • It can improve the functioning of the liver.
  • It is known to treat kidney stones, probably why it is called Stonebreaker in English.

Distribution

The different varieties of Keezharnelli occur widely in tropical areas, often as a weed.

Name in different languages

In English, Keezharnelli is called Gale of the Wind, Stonebreaker etc.
Hindi: Bhumi Amla
Sanskrit: Bhu Dhatri, Bhumyamalaki, Bahuvirya, Bahupatra
Tamil: Kizhakainelli

Family: Phyllanthaceae
Botanical name: Phyllanthus niruri

Phyllanthus niruri (Keezharnelli) - a medicinal plant in Kerala
Phyllanthus niruri

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *