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mashithandu - Peperomia pellucida

mashithandu - Peperomia pellucida -


Mashithandu -  Peperomia pellucida
Mashithandu or Vellathandu (literal meaning water stem) is a small plant which arouses lot of nostalgia among Malayalees. 
This small plants stem is full of water. In Malabar we call it Vellathandu ( which is more appropriate I think) but in southern kerala they call Mashi thandu ( which means ink stem - Mashi means ink) . But in literature of Kerala Mashithandu is popularly used.

In olden days when slate was used in schools this was used to rub out the writing. Young boys and girls used to exchange the mashithandu and become friends ! The stem cut into small pieces is saved in small pencil boxes.

There is yet another use - a small stem piece is taken and the water is emptied from half portion of the stem and air is blown into it. That portion then expands like balloon. Then that balloon is hit on the forehead and explodes with a sound. Children enjoy it. !

Mashithandu grows anywhere where water is abundant. As it is a weed plant I find it a nuisance in my lawn. But every time I pluck one I smile and think of my childhood. How amazing ! this small plant can make your heart soft and weak and can bring tears into your eyes!

Through the tears I see a small hand with bangles that lends me her mashithandu!.

Taxonomical Classification


English: pepper elder, shining bush plant, man to man
Malayalam: Kannadippacha, Mashipatcha, Mashithandu, Maka-pacha, Slettipacha, Thaklippan, മഷിത്തണ്ട്, vellipachila, vella-paccha


Common names
It is known as pepper elder, silverbush, rat-ear, man-to-man, clearweed (North America); prenetaria (Puerto Rico); konsaka wiwiri (Suriname); coraçãozinho or "little heart" (Brazil); lingua de sapo, herva-de-vidro, herva-de-jaboti or herva-de-jabuti (South America), corazón de hombre (Cuba). In Oceania, it is called rtertiil (Belauan); podpod-lahe or potpopot (Chamorro). In the different dialects of the Philippines, it is called pansit-pansitan or ulasimang-bato (Tagalog), olasiman ihalas (Bisaya), sinaw-sinaw or tangon-tangon (Bikol), lin-linnaaw (Ilocano) and "clavo-clavo" (Chavacano). In other parts of Asia, it is known as càng cua (Vietnam); pak krasang ผักกระสัง (Thailand); "krasang teap" ក្រសាំងទាប (Cambodia); suna kosho (Japan); rangu-rangu, ketumpangan or tumpang angin (Bahasa/Malay); rinrin (Nigeria), "shining bush" (Trinidad and Tobago)


Parts used for medicinal purpose

Whole plant, ,


Delicate, glabrous annual herbs; stems erect, 5-30 cm tall, pellucid, branched when well developed. Leaves simple, alternate throughout, 1-3 cm long and wide, triangular ovate, cordate at base with a sinus 1-2 mm deep, obtuse or shortly acuminate at apex, pellucid, palmately 5-7 nerved from the base; petiole 6-15 mm long, clasping decurrent along the stem. Spikes solitary, terminal but frequently leaf-opposed by overtopping, 2-5 cm long, slender, axis glabrous; peduncle 2-5 cm long, about as thick as spike axis; bracts 0.2-0.3 mm in diameter. Flowers scarcely immersed. Ovary with a fleshy, oblique, subapical stigma. Fruit sessile, about 0.8 mm long, globose-ellipsoid, with an apical stigma, longitudinally striate-undulate, blackish brown at maturity.

Geographical distribution:

Flowering year-round, the plant is found in various shaded, damp habitats all over Asia and the Americas. It grows in clumps, thriving in loose, humid soils and a tropical to subtropical climate.

Native of Tropical America; now Pantropical
  Aquatic: No
  Epiphyte(s): No
  Saprophyte: No
  Stem parasite: No
  Root parasite: No
  Flower colour(s): Green
  Weed: Yes

Peechi, Koruthode, Thunakkadavu, Pathanamthitta, Payyavur, Cannanore, Neriamangalam to Velvara, Dhoni R. F., Mukkali forests, Anmooly slopes, Nadugani ghats, Machiri, Thenmalai, Vandalodu, Kallisseri, Bonaccord

General Use:

Peperomia pellucida has been used as a food item as well as a medicinal herb. Although mostly grown for its ornamental foliage, the entire plant is edible, both cooked and raw. It is also said that it can be a good refrigerant.

Therapeutic Uses:

The analgesic properties of the plant seem to be related to its effect on prostaglandin synthesis.  It may have potential as a broad spectrum antibiotic, as demonstrated in tests against Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Escherichia coli.Chloroform extracts from dried leaves of P. pellucida have been shown to exhibit antifungal activity against Trichophyton mentagrophytes in vitro.

Anti-inflammatory activity (in paw edema) and analgesic activity has been demonstrated in rats and mice.

Although the plant can cause asthma-like symptoms in patients with known hypersensitivity reactions to the species, no clinical data have yet been reported on human toxicity.

Traditional medicine
Ethnomedicinal uses for the plant vary. P. pellucida has been used for treating abdominal pain, abscesses, acne, boils, colic, fatigue, gout, headache, renal disorders, and rheumatic joint pain. In Bolivia, Alteños Indians use the whole plant to stop hemorrhages.[citation needed] The roots are used to treat fevers and the aerial parts are used as dressing for wounds. In northeastern Brazil, the plant has been used to lower cholesterol. In Guyana and the Amazon region, it is a popular cough suppressant, emollient, and diuretic.  It is also used to treat proteinuria. In the Philippines, a decoction of the plant is used to decrease uric acid levels and to treat renal problems. It is also used topically for skin disorders such as acne and boils. 

Photos of mashithandu -

KEY WORDS: Vettathandu, mashi, Mashithandu

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