Excerpts from Jim Conrad's

Turkey-tangle, PHYLA NODIFLORA, plant and flower heads

from the July 3, 2011 Newsletter issued from written at Mayan Beach Garden Inn 20 kms north of Mahahual, Quintana Roo, México

Often you see a certain perennial herb's runners emerging from roadside weeds, inching onto the road, where car tires prune their tips by running over them. Overlapping runners sometimes form ankle-deep mats. Nowadays bean-size heads crowned with tiny, white flowers rise above the ground-hugging stems, as seen above.

A special thing about those egg-shaped flower heads is how the flowers open. First a ring of white blossoms appears at the bottom of the head, then as time passes the flower ring migrates up the head, leaving maturing ovaries bearing brown, shriveled-up corollas below, even as not-yet-open, immature flowers remain above. You can see a middle-aged head with a ring of tiny, white flowers situated about 2/3rds up the head below:

Turkey-tangle, PHYLA NODIFLORA, flowering head

This native of the American tropics and subtropics has become a weed throughout the world's hot and warm lands. Residing in many English-speaking countries, it goes by many English names, including Creeping Frogfruit, Sawtooth Fogfruit, Matgrass, Capeweed, Matchweed, and Turkey-tangle. It's PHYLA NODIFLORA, a member of the Vervain Family, the Verbenaceae. In botanical literature the words "fogfruit" and "frogfruit" have been used more or less interchangeably.

While Googling the species I encountered a website in India specializing in natural medicine and calling the plant Poduthalai. It said that Poduthalai is a natural cure for dandruff, piles, leucorrhoea, ulcers, and more. For piles, which these days in the US has been glorified with the name hemorrhoids, it suggested a "chutney" concocted of its leaves. Also the leaves can be ground into a paste and applied to the scalp for dandruff.