Alternanthera Brasiliana Descriptive Essay


Alternanthera brasiliana

Scientific Name

Alternanthera brasiliana (L.) Kuntze


Alternantherabrasiliana (L.) Kuntze 'Rubiginosa'
Alternanthera brasiliana (L.) Kuntze var. villosa (Moq.) Kuntze
Alternanthera dentata (Moench) Stuchlik ex R.E. Fr.
Alternanthera dentata (Moench) Stuchlik ex R.E. Fr. 'Rubiginosa'
Alternanthera dentata (Moench) Stuchlik ex R.E. Fr. 'Rubra’
Gomphrena brasiliana L.
Gomphrena dentata Moench
Telanthera brasiliana (L.) Moq. var. villosa Moq.



Common Names

alternanthera, Brazilian joyweed, calico plant, indoor clover, Joseph's coat, joy weed, large purple alternanthera, metal weed, parrot leaf, purple alternanthera, purple joy weed, purple joyweed, ruby calico plant, ruby leaf, ruby leaf alternanthera


Native to southern Mexico, Central America (i.e. Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua), the Caribbean and tropical South America (i.e. French Guiana, Guyana, Surinam, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and eastern Peru).

Naturalised Distribution

Purple joyweed (Alternanthera brasiliana) is becoming widely naturalised in the coastal districts of northern and eastern Australia. It is relatively common in northern Queensland and the northern parts of the Northern Territory. Also naturalised in the coastal districts of central and southern Queensland and in the Kimberley region in northern Western Australia.

Naturalised overseas in south-eastern USA (i.e. Florida), South Africa and on some Pascific islands (e.g. Hawaii, Niue and Palau).


Purple joyweed (Alternanthera brasiliana) is now regarded as an environmental weed in Queensland and the Northern Territory. This species is very common in cultivation as a garden ornamental and is often grown as a hedging plant. It has escaped cultivation and become naturalised, particularly along waterways in the warmer and wetter coastal areas of northern Australia.

Several cultivars are available and these generally differ in the colour of their foliage. Alternanthera brasiliana 'Rubiginosa' (aka. Alternanthera brasiliana 'Ruby' or Alternanthera brasiliana 'Rubra') is probably the most common of these, in both cultivated and naturalised plants, and has reddish-purple coloured leaves.

Purple joyweed (Alternanthera brasiliana) appears on some environmental weed lists in eastern Queensland (e.g. in Ipswich City and Redland Shire) and is regarded as an emerging weed or "sleeper weed" in the Katherine region in the Northern Territory. It is also seen as a threat to native plant ecosystems in aboriginal lands in the Northern Land Council area.

This species is also listed as an alien invasive plant in the Kruger National Park in South Africa.

Fact sheets are available from Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) service centres and our Customer Service Centre (telephone 13 25 23). Check our website at to ensure you have the latest version of this fact sheet. The control methods referred to in this fact sheet should be used in accordance with the restrictions (federal and state legislation, and local government laws) directly or indirectly related to each control method. These restrictions may prevent the use of one or more of the methods referred to, depending on individual circumstances. While every care is taken to ensure the accuracy of this information, DEEDI does not invite reliance upon it, nor accept responsibility for any loss or damage caused by actions based on it.

Copyright © 2016. All rights reserved. Identic Pty Ltd. Special edition of Environmental Weeds of Australia for Biosecurity Queensland.

Chandrika, U.G., U. Svanberg, E. Janz. 2005. In vitro accessibility of -carotene from cooked Sri Lankan green leafy vegetables and their estimated contribution to vitamin A requirement. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 86(1): 54-61.
Summary: A study was done to determine the carotene content of seven different leafy vegetables. It was done to calculate the contribution of one traditionally cooked portion of the recommended daily allowance of of retinol.

Federal Noxious Weed Disseminules in the U.S. (FNWD). 2004. Alternanthera sessilis
Summary: This website is used for the responsible identification of plant pests. It discusses the sperad of dissemenules throughout the U.S. And how they can potentially become invasive in the United States and throughout the world.
Available from: [Accessed February 27, 2007]

Flora of the Marquesas. Undated. Alternanthera sessilis.
Summary: This website gives a full description of A. sessilis on the Marquesas Islands.
Available from: [Accessed February 27, 2007]

Geng, Y. X., Pan, C. Xu, W. Zhang, B. Li, J. Chen. 2006. Phenotypic plasticity of invasive Alternanthera philoxeroides in relation to different water availability, compared to its native congener. ACTA OECOLOGICA. 30: 380-385.
Summary: This article shows how Alternanthera philoxeroides and Alternanthera sessilis have different water needs and will often be found in different areas and in different size populations according to water availability.

ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System), 2006. Online Database Alternanthera sessilis.
Summary: An online database that provides taxonomic information, common names, synonyms and geographical jurisdiction of a species. In addition links are provided to retrieve biological records and collection information from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Data Portal and bioscience articles from BioOne journals.
Available from : [Accessed February, 27, 2007]

Jansen, P.C.M. 2004. Alternanthera sessilis (L.) DC. [Internet] Record from Protabase. Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa/ Ressources v�g�tales de l�Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands.
Summary: This website gives information on the distribution of the the species, common names, uses, and the properties of the plant.

Lin, Song-Chow, Y. Lin, S. Shyuu, C. Lin. 1994. Hepatoprotective Effects of Taiwan Folk Medicine: Alternanthera sessilis on Liver Damage Induced by Hepatotoxins. Phytotherapy Research. 8: 391-398.
Summary: This article discusses the various chemical in A. sessilis and how it affects the human liver as an instument of medicine.

Upreti, B.R., Y.G. Upreti. 2002. Factors leading to agro-biodiversity loss in developing countries: the case of Nepal. Biodiversity and Conservation. 11: 1607-1621.
Summary: This article is concerned with factors contributing to agro-biodiversity loss in Nepal. The aim of this paper is to analyse the causes of agro-biodiversity loss and draw out some concrete recommendations.

Wiser, S.K., D.R. Drake, L.E. Burrows, W.R. Sykes. 2002. The potential for long-term persistence of forest fragments on Tongatapu, a large island in western Polynesia. Journal of Biogeography. 29: 767-787.
Summary: This article discusses compositional variation of forest fragments and two factors that directly influence the potential for long-term persistence of these fragments � tree regeneration and alien invasion.

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