Kurunthotti or Sida is an annual herb or shrub with yellow flowers and leaves with distinct shapes. Know by the name Bala in Sanskrit, it is quite useful in Ayurveda and traditional medicines.
Although there are different species treated as Kurunthotti, Sida rhombifoila is more popular in places like Kerala where it has been a popular home remedy for many problems.
In many parts of North India, Sida cordifolia is considered as Bala. In fact, there are around 21 similar plants with the same common name. A few such species are:
However, all these plants belong to the same genus and have almost the same chemical constituents.
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Plant Type: Annual Shrub
Scientific name: Sida rhombifolia / Sida retusa
Flowers: small, yellow, 5 petals
Distribution: Native to India, tropics
Sanskrit: Bala, Vatyalah
As the scientific name suggests, the leaf of Sida rhombifolia is 2.5cm long and has a rhombus shape. Towards the tip, it may also resemble a heart. This peculiar shape of the leaf is the main tip for identifying the plant.
The leaf has smooth surface with jagged edges.
As a small shrub, Kurunthotti can be 30cm to 1m tall. Although lean, the stem is hard with greenish grey outer bark.
The small yellow flowers are around 1 cm across with 5 petals. They bloom in the morning and wilt by afternoon. The petals have a trapezoidal shape.
Flowers occur alone near the leaf petiole. They have five sepals and several short stamens. The fruits are tiny and are packed inside the sepals. The seed is dark brown.
It is common all across Kerala, especially the central districts like Kottayam and Idukki.
It was so popular as a herbal remedy for various problems. There won’t be anyone in the elder generation who hasn’t heard the name Kurumthotti. However, like many indigenous plants, its numbers are also diminishing from our localities. So many of the younger generation might not have even heard about it.
The leaves of Sida acuta are long with pointed tips, which help to distinguish it easily. The flowers often appear in groups.
The leaves are oval with silky hair like projections on both the surfaces.