Latin Name: Sida rhombifolia
Description: A herb or small shrub. It grows 1-1.5 m tall. It is very hairy. It has many branches. The leaf stalk is 3-5 mm long. The leaf blade is sword shaped and 2.2-4.5 cm long by 0.6-2 cm wide. The flowers occur singly in the axils of leaves. They are yellow and about 1 cm across. The fruit is half round and 6-7 mm across.
Notes: This species is usually confined to waste ground, such as roadsides and rocky areas, stock camps or rabbit warrens, but can be competitive in pasture, due to its unpalatability to livestock.
Edibility Rating out of 5: 1
Medicinal Rating out of 5: 3
Edible Uses: The leaves are used to make a tea drink and eaten as a vegetable. Chemical analysis revealed that the leaves contain respectable amounts of nutrients: 74,000 to 347,000 ppm protein, 94,000 to 475,000 ppm carbohydrates, 33,000 to 167,000 ppm fiber, 14,000 to 71,000 ppm fat, and 16,000 to 81,000 ppm ash. However, it was reported that the root contained 450 ppm alkaloids and the presence of ephedrine and saponin. Another source reports an alkaloid content in the root of 0.1 percent and the presence of choline, pseudoephedrine, beta-phenethylamine, vascin, hipaphorine and related indole alkaloids. Perhaps because of these chemicals, arrowleaf sida is unpalatable to cattle.
Medicinal Information: Arrowleaf sida has significant medicinal applications for which it is cultivated throughout India. The pounded leaves are used to relieve swelling,the fruits are used to relieve headache, the mucilage is used as an emollient, and the root is used to treat rheumatism. Australian Aborigines use the herb to treat diarrhea. Leaves are smoked in Mexico and a tea is prepared in India for the stimulation it provides.
Other Uses: The stems are used as rough cordage, sacking, and for making brooms. The stems have a high quality fiber and were once exported from India and elsewhere as “hemp”.