Few people know that the rather small, slightly bitter leaves of this common "weed" of central and southern Florida, are cooked and eaten as a wild potherb. In fact, it has been cultivated as a vegetable in Kenya. At a recent Florida Herbal Conference, I could not find one plant-lover who knew what this common species was... so let's all get to know it. Medicinally, it is used in Ayurvedic and other traditional practices for many ailments. Externally, it has been used to treat cuts, wounds, skin diseases, headaches, boils, and lice. Be sure not to confuse it with the similar looking Purple Tassleflower, Emlia sonchifolia, which has clasping leaves, and is found in similar locations... it contains toxic pyrrolizidine... ew, gross. Butterflies and bees like to nectar at the flowers.
EDIBLE USES: “The slightly bitter leaves are used as a potherb or added to soups.” . “It is sometimes cultivated as a vegetable [or wild harvested] in Kenya.” 
MEDICINAL PROPERTIES: Abortifacient, alterative, anthelmintic, antiviral, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge.
MEDICINAL USES: “Various extracts of the plant are antiviral, anticancerand diuretic.” 
- IN AYURVEDIC MEDICINE: It “is used in Ayurvedic herbal medicine as an alterative, diaphoretic and febrifuge.
- WHOLE PLANT: The whole plant, including the seed and the roots is used and “is “used for kidney disorders, decoction for diuretic, swellings, stomach pain, diarrhea, eczema, inflammation, lower abdominal pains and menstrual pains.”  . A decoction of the whole plant is employed to promote perspiration in the treatment of fevers. It is seen as a good remedy for bladder spasms and strangury [a blockage of the bladder].
- PLANT JUICE: The juice of the plant is used to treat piles.
- SEEDS: The seeds, and the fatty oil they contain, are alterative, anthelmintic and antidote/alexipharmic. They are used as an antidote to poison and in the treatment of leprosyand chronic skin diseases.” 
- INDIA: The seeds are “said to be quite effective against roundworms and threadworms.”  The seeds “are also given for coughs, flatulence, intestinal colic and dysuriaand for leucoderma, psoriasisand other chronic skin-diseases.”  “The root is used in treating dropsyand scorpion stings.” 
- NEPAL: The flowers are used to treat conjunctivitis. 
- GUYANA: “The leaves and young stems are abortifacient, blood purifier anddiuretic. A decoction is used to treat kidney disorders, swellings, inflammation, lower abdominal pains and menstrual pains; also to expel the placenta and as an abortifacient. It is considered a more potent abortifacient and better treatment for menstrual pains when C. cinereum is decocted with Justiciasecunda. An infusion of the leaves, combined with Stachytarpheta jamaicensis, is used for treating albuminuria; sprains. The juice of the root is used in the treatment of hemorrhoids, diarrheaand stomach disorders. In some areas the root is valued as an anthelmintic.” 
EXTERNAL MEDICINAL USES:
- NEPAL: “A paste made from the plant is used as a poultice on cuts, woundsand skin diseases. A poultice of the leaves is applied to the forehead in the treatment of headaches. A paste of the root is applied externally to boils.”  INDIA: “The seeds are made into a paste with lime juice and used for destroying lice.” 
CHEMICAL CONSTITUENTS: “The plant contains triterpenes and sterols” and “the oil contains vernolic acid.” 
WILDLIFE: Flowers are visited by buterflies and bees for the nectar.
NATIVE TO: Tropical Africa to tropical and temperate Asia. India, Indochina, Indonesia, etc. Naturalized as well as invasive across the globe in tropical and some sub-tropical areas, including Australia, Mesoamerica, tropical South America, Caribbean, Hawaii, etc. It also grows wild here in Florida.
HABITAT: In disturbed areas, shaded edges, roadsides, waste grounds, pastures.
DESCRIPTION: A small, herbaceous flowering, annual or short-lived perennial, fast-growing to 1-4 feet tall.
- LEAVES: Leaves ovate, petiolate or distal ones sessile. Often, single, large leaves emerge from the stem with two smaller ones coming from the same point.
- FLOWERS: Flowers purplish or pinkish, in flat-topped clusters with 5 to numerous heads, wind pollinated. They have disc, but no ray florets.
- FRUITS: Seedshead are achenes with pappus that drift in the wind.
SIMILAR SPECIES: It is often confused with Emilia sonchifolia, which also grows wild across Florida. Sonchifolia has much longer flower bracts that are more vase-shaped.
- PROBLEMS: It “can host the tobacco leaf curl virus and the root-knot nematode.” 
Roadsides, Shaded Edges
 Toxicology Centre [.com] – Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants
 Holm, 1997
 Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
 Useful Tropical Plants
 Protobase– Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
 Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants, by Kapoor
 Cornucopia 2
 Plants and People of Nepal
 Medicinal Plants of the Guianas
 Flowers of India