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Achyranthes (Achyranthes aspera)

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).


Click on the "Nutritional aspects" tab for recommendations for ruminants, pigs, poultry, rabbits, horses, fish and crustaceans
Common names 

Rough chaff flower, birdweed, prickly chaff flower, devil's horsewhip, chaff burr, chaff flower [English]; herbe à Bengalis, herbe d'Eugène, herbe des jeunes, herbe sergent, herbe zinde, la zinde, queue de rat [French]; zorro, zorrillo blanco, rabo de gato, picha de gato, malpica [Spanish]; Langklits, Grootklits, Knapsekêrel, Haak-en-steek-bossie, Haak en steek klitsbossie [Afrikaans]; soho, Ntsohomaele, Ntsohoho Mayele [Comorian]; kuri pallade, demgal dimadyo [Fufulde]; Lingulukila, Ngulukila [Bena]; Kwantzi, Nunuhay [Gorowa]; Tsipotiky [Madagascar]; Lugeni [Hehe]; Bwasi [Luguru]; Olerubat [Maasai]; Lindiame [Matengo]; Ihata, Ikulula, Mbarahasha [Rangi]; Pulule [Swahili]; Bohomane [Sotho]; Lemanamana [Swazi]; Ngwena ja kulutambo [Tongwe]; Moxato [Tswana]; अपामार्ग apamarga [Sanskrit]; Bundlubundlu, IsiNama, USibambangubo, ULimilwengwe [Zulu] (USDA, 2021; Le François, 2021)


Related feed(s) 

Achyranthes aspera is a much-branched herbaceous annual to perennial plant. Mainly used for food and ethnomedicine, it can be grazed by ruminants and horses and eaten by rabbits prior to flowering (Ruffo et al., 2002; Malzy, 1954)

Morphological description

Achyranthes aspera is a perennial shruby herb than can grow from (30-) 60-80 (-200)  cm in height and can become somewhat woody with maturity. It is taprooted. The leaves are simple and opposite, very variable in size and colour. The limb is usually long-oval up to 15 cm, often softly hairy on one or both surfaces, very variable. The inflorescence is a terminal or axillary spike, silvery green to pink-red in colour. It bears small (3-7 mm) flowers that point downward at maturity. The fruit is a small (1.6-2.5 mm), few-seeded capsule, that is mostly dispersed in animal furs and human clothing. The seeds are very small, sometimes used as famine food (Le François, 2021; Ruffo et al., 2002).


The leaves are used and cooked like spinach in side dishes of staple, they can be mixed with simsim, pounded groundnut or sunflower (Ruffo et al., 2002). It has been used to make leaf protein concentrate to enrich human diet in times of scarcity (Rathore, 2010). It has several ethnomedicinal applications. It is grazed by ruminants and horses, and it is fed to rabbits in Tanzania (Ruffo et al., 2002). It is referred to as a good fertility indicator in soils (Ruffo et al., 2002)


Achyranthes aspera is a tropical perennial that is widespread through the tropics and subtropics of Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas. It is thought to have originated from the Old Word

It occurs in open dry places at elevations up to 2,000-3,000 metres (Nepal or Tanzania). It is often found in secondary regrowth at forest edges, in thickets, open grassland, along forest trails, in sand dunes and in seasonal swamps and dried-up watercourses. (Fern, 2019; Vibrans, 2009). It grows in sandy soils, especially in the shade of trees and bushes (Göhl, 1982). It is considered a weed in Mexico where it grows in disturbed areas (Vibrans, 2009). It has been reported to be invasive in some parts of Tanzania (Ruffo et al., 2002). In some places of Indonesia (East Java), achyranthes is one of the predominant species of the understorey of Acacia nilotica. It is an important source of forage for buffaloes (Djufri, 2017).

Environmental impact 

Soil fertility indicator

It has been reported to be an indicator of good fertility in soils (Ruffo et al., 2002)

Host for nematodes

A variety of achyranthes has been reported to host a pathogenic nematode Meloidogyne javanica in tomato, okra, gram or eggplants crops (Sharma et al., 1980)

Nutritional aspects
Potential constraints 

Achyranthes has been reported to contain alkaloids (Ruffo et al., 2002).


Young leaves and branches of achyranthes are readily browsed throughout the year. It has been recommended to have it grazed before flowering (Ruffo et al., 2002). Heavy grazing is suggested in areas where achyranthes is invasise so as to control it (IDAO, Cirad,XXX).



As of 2021, no information was available on the use of Achyranthes aspera in domestic rabbit feeding. However complete eradication of wild European rabbits from the Round Island (Mauricius) permited a rapid re-growth of Achyrantes in this 120 ha small island (Bullock et al., 2002). It indicates that Achyranthes aspera is palatable for rabbits and is readily browsed when available. Different studies were done with this plant used as medicinal plant (leaves and roots) in the Indian area. It was shown that this plant is hypoglycaemic and hypolipidemic (Akhtar et al., 1991; Krishnakumari et al., 2006).According to these observations, Achyranthes aspera could probably be used in rabbit feeding as a safe forage rich in proteins (about 20% in DM) and poor in fibre for a forage (21% NDF in DM). The calculated nutritional value is very high for a forage : 14.MJ/kg DM (Lebas, 2016, Talreja et al., 2014). An eventual use in rabbit feeding, should pay attention to the anti-fertility activity of Achyranthes aspera that was demonstrated in the rat (Vasudeva et al., 2006).


In India, Achyranthes aspera leaves and seeds have been assessed in several feed experiments as immunostimulatroy agents (Singh et al., 2020; Vasudeva Rao et al., 2005a; Vasudeva Rao et al., 2005b; Srivastava et al., 2012).

Indian major carp (Catla catla)

Indian major carp (Catla catla) fed on 0.5% achyranthes seeds had enhanced immunity compared to those fed on control (Vasudeva Rao et al., 2005a).

Common carp (Cyprinus carpio)

Common carp challenged by Aeromonas hydrophila were supplement with 0.5% seeds of Achyranthes aspera and they were found to have better immunity status (Vasudeva Rao et al., 2005b).

Rohu (Labeo rohita)

Achyranthes aspera seeds offered at 1% dietary level to rohu (Labeo rohita)  fry (0.547 g) had stimulating effect on the immune system of these fish (Srivastava et al., 2012). It was shown that the same dietary level (1%) of seeds in bigger rohu fry (2 g)challenged by Aeromonas hydrophila, resulted in the highest growth rate, the best immune status and the lowest mortality compared to lower rates of seeds or leaves or to control diet in rohu (Singh et al., 2020).


Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Crude protein % DM 19.7 12.9 26.4 2
Crude fibre % DM 22.6 20.2 25.0 2
Ether extract % DM 1.4 1.4 1.4 2
Ash % DM 15.5 12.4 18.6 2
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.0 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 13.8 9.6 17.9 2
Phosphorus g/kg DM 3.3 3.1 3.4 2
Potassium g/kg DM 46.7 1
Sodium g/kg DM 0.1 1
Magnesium g/kg DM 5.1 1

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Bartha, 1970; Dougall et al., 1958

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:33

Datasheet citation 

DATASHEET UNDER CONSTRUCTION. DO NOT QUOTE. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/194 Last updated on March 29, 2021, 15:57