Botanical name: Crassocephalum crepidioides Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower family)
Synonyms: Gynura crepidioides
Fireweed is an erect little-branched herb to 1 m tall, smooth or finely hairy. Leaves with lamina elliptic to ovate in outline; lowest leaves lyrate-pinnatifid, up to 20 cm long and 10 cm wide, base often with a pair of stipule-like lobes, margins coarsely toothed; upper leaves smaller, not lobed or with a lobe each side towards base; petiole up to 4 cm long. Heads in cymes, few to many, nodding at first, later erect; heads 4 mm diameter. Flowerheads are cylindrical, green, with red florets visible on top. Seeds are floating balls of numerous silky white hair, which kids in India call by names equivalent to 'old lady' in different languages. Thickhead is native to tropical africa, but now naturalized in India and SE Asia.
Medicinal uses: Its fleshy, mucilaginous leaves and stems are eaten as a vegetable. A lotion of leaves is used as a mild medicine that strengthens the stomach and excites its action.
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