Health benefits of Waterleaf

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Waterleaf Quick Facts
Name: Waterleaf
Scientific Name: Talinum fruticosum
Origin Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, much of South America
Colors Pale yellow
Shapes 3 angled; globose or subglobose capsules, about 5 mm in diameter and 6 – 7 mm long
Health benefits Promotes Heart Health, Prevents cancer, Helps in Digestion, Eliminates Infections & Diseases, Good for Weight loss, Strong Bones and Teeth, Promotes Eye Health, Enhances Cognitive Ability, Improves Blood Clotting, Prevents Atherosclerosis, Improves the Blood Cells, Manages Blood Pressure, Prevents Cataracts, Promotes Good Skin, Beneficial in Pregnancy, Manages Blood Sugar
Talinum fruticosum commonly known as Waterleaf is an herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the Portulacaceae (Purslane family). The plant is native to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and much of South America. It is cultivated in West Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the warmer parts of North and South America. In Bolivia it is known from Beni, Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, La Paz, Santa Cruz and Tarija. Popular common names include Ceylon spinach, waterleaf, cariru, Gbure, Surinam purslane, Philippine spinach, Florida spinach, potherb fame flower, Lagos bologi, Fame flower, Surinam spinach and sweetheart. Although the common name, Ceylon Spinach is actually native to the American continents, it is widely naturalized in India. It is extensively grown in tropical regions as a leaf vegetable.

The genus name, Talinum, has an unclear origin. In taxonomic literature, there is an assumption that it originally derives from the Greek Θάλεια (thaleia) which comes from Θαλλω (thallos) and means something like to sprout abundantly or to flourish. Its specific epithet, fruticosum is derived from the Latin fruticōsus, which means with many sprouts. Leaves are a source of fiber and minerals and they contribute to collect the micronutrients for daily nutritional requirements. These plants supply the essential nutrients to the human organism.  The plant is often harvested from the wild for local use as a food. It is also cultivated in various parts of the tropics for its edible leaves, being grown on a particularly large scale in Africa. It is occasionally planted as an ornamental pot plant or as an edging plant in gardens.

Waterleaf Facts

Name Waterleaf
Scientific Name Talinum fruticosum
Native Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, much of South America. It is cultivated in West Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the warmer parts of North and South America. In Bolivia it is known from Beni, Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, La Paz, Santa Cruz and Tarija
Common Names Ceylon spinach, Fame flower, Philippine spinach, Potherb fameflower, Surinam purslane, Sweetheart, Waterleaf, Florida spinach, potherb fameflower, Cariru, Lagos Bologi, Gbure, Florida spinach, Surinam spinach
Name in Other Languages Afrikaans: Waterleaf
Albanian: Waterleaf
Amharic: Yewiha tenit’elit’ayi (የውሃ ተንጠልጣይ)
Arabic: Naba at alma (نبات الماء)
Armenian: Jrbazhan (ջրբաժան)
Azerbaijani: Sudan yarpağı
Bengali: Waterleaf
Brazilian: Cariru
Bulgarian: Waterleaf
Burmese: Raytanhkwan (ရေတံခွန်)
Cameroon: Bolki, Belok sup
Chinese: Shuǐ yè (水叶), Do ninjin (棱轴土人参)
Croatian: Waterleaf
Czech: Waterleaf
Danish: Waterleaf, Trekanttalinum
Dutch: Waterblad, Surinaamsche postelein, Surinaamse postelijn
English: Waterleaf, Ceylon-spinach, Philippine-spinach, Surinam-purslane, Verdolaga-Francesa, Sweetheart, pink purslane
Esperanto: Akvujo
Estonian: Vesileht          
Filipino: Waterleaf
Finnish: Waterleaf
French: Feuille d’eau, Grand pourpier, Grassé, Grassé grand pourpier, Pourpier tropical, Talina de Java,  grand pourprier, pourpier grand bois,
Georgian: Ts’q’lists’q’ali (წყლისწყალი)
German: Wasserblatt, Blatt-Ginseng, Ceylonspinat, Javaspinat,
Ghana: Busummuni, Adwere, Boroboro, Senuma
Greek: Ydróvia fýlla (υδρόβια φύλλα)
Gujarat: Vōṭaralīpha (વોટરલીફ)
Hausa: Bawan ruwa
Hebrew: עלה
Hindi: Waterleaf, Pasali, Samparchera
Holland: Surinaamsche postelein, Surinaamse postelijn
Hungarian: Waterleaf
Icelandic: Vatnsblaði
Igbo: Mgbolodi
Indonesian: Selada air, Krokot belanda, Kolesom, Poslen
Irish: Duilleog uisce
Italian: Hydrophyllum, Basella di giava, Spinacio di giava, , Spinacio di Suriname
Japanese: U~ōtārīfu (ウォーターリーフ), hazeran (ハゼラン)           
Javanese: Banyu, Ginsèng jawa
Kannada: Vāṭarlīph (ವಾಟರ್ಲೀಫ್), Nelabasaḷe  (ನೆಲಬಸಳೆ)
Kazakh: Sw japırağı (су жапырағы)
Korean: Mul-ip (물잎)
Kurdish: Silava avê
Lao: Waterleaf
Latin: Waterleaf
Latvian: Udenslauks
Lithuanian: Vandenlente
Macedonian: Voda bez voda (вода без вода)
Malagasy: Waterleaf
Malay: Air terjun, Krokot belanda , Poslen, Pokok Kolesom
Malayalam: Vāṭṭarlīph (വാട്ടർലീഫ്), sāmpār cīra (സാമ്പാർ ചീര)
Maltese: Waterleaf
Marathi: Votaraleeph (वॉटरलीफ)
Mongolian: Usan khalisan (усан хальсан)
Nepali: Vāṭaralīpha (वाटरलीफ)
Nigerian: Lagos bologi, Gbure, Ntuoka, Ikpibi
Norwegian: Waterleaf
Oriya: ଜଳପ୍ରବାହ
Papua New Guinea: Kumu manus
Pashto: واټرلیف
Persian: بی آب               
Philippines: Talilong, galaghati, biala
Polish: Waterleaf
Portuguese: Folha de água, Beldroega-graúda, Lustrosa-grande, Espinafre de Ceilao, cairu
Punjabi: Vāṭaralīpha (ਵਾਟਰਲੀਫ)
Romanian: Waterleaf
Russian: Waterleaf
Serbian: Vodopad (водопад)
Sindhi: پاڻي وارو
Sinhala: Diya ælla (දිය ඇල්ල)
Slovenian: Vodni list
Spanish: Hoja de agua, Espinaca de Filipinas, Espinaca de Java, Espinaca de Surinam, Verdolago francés, verdolaga blanca, verdolaga de castilla, verdolaguilla, verdolaga de playa  
Sri Lankan: Gasnivithi
Sudanese: Waterleaf
Swedish: Waterleaf
Tajik: Tarʙuz (тарбуз)
Tamil: Vāṭṭarlīḥp (வாட்டர்லீஃப்), Sambar keerai (ஸாம்பார் கீரை)
Telugu: Waterleaf
Thai: Waterleaf, Som chin (โสมจีน), Som kaoli (โสมเกาหลี ),  Som khon (โสมคน)
Turkish: Waterleaf
Ukrainian: Vodyanyy lyst (водяний лист)
Urdu: واٹرلیف
Uzbek: Suvli barg
Vietnamese: Lá nước, Th[oor]nh[aa]n s[aa]m
Welsh: Dail dŵr
Yoruba: Gbure, Ajigborere, alawere
Zulu: Amanzi
Plant Growth Habit Small, short-lived, erect, strongly branched, perennial plant
Growing Climates Common in plantation crops, roadsides, shaded areas, waste places, forests edges, Yungas forest, dry chaco forest, open woodland, pinelands, hammocks, and disturbed areas
Soil Prefers a well-drained but moist, humus-rich fertile soil, though it will succeed in relatively poor soils
Plant Size 30 to 100 cm (12 to 39 in) tall and a width of 50 centimeters
Root Swollen and fleshy
Stem Circular,  fleshy , little branched, with alternating phyllotaxis from the base and verticilated phyllotaxis just below the inflorescence
Leaf Arranged spirally almost nearly opposite, often crowded at the top of the stem and indistinctly or with petioles 2 –10 mm long
Flower Flowers are bisexual and it is a measure about 0.5-2.5 cm in diameter. The pedicels elongate after anthesis
Fruit Shape & Size 3 angled; globose or subglobose capsules, about 5 mm in diameter and 6 – 7 mm long
Fruit Color Pale Yellow
Seed Numerous, compressed spherical-kidney-shaped, with a size of measure about 0.8-1.2 mm long, granulate, smooth, brown or blackish
Propagation By Seed
Plant Parts Used Juice, stem, leaves, and roots
Health Benefits
  • Promotes Heart Health
  • Prevents cancer
  • Helps in Digestion
  • Eliminates Infections & Diseases
  • Good for Weight loss
  • Strong Bones and Teeth
  • Promotes Eye Health
  • Enhances Cognitive Ability
  • Improves Blood Clotting
  • Prevents Atherosclerosis
  • Improves the Blood Cells
  • Manages Blood Pressure
  • Prevents Cataracts
  • Promotes Good Skin
  • Beneficial in Pregnancy
  • Manages Blood Sugar
Other Facts
  • In Brazil it is grown along the banks of the Amazon River, and is consumed mainly in the states of Pará and Amazonas.
  • The collection of waterleaf from the wild is a good source of income for poor farmers.
  • In experiments waterleaf performed well as a fodder for raising giant snails.
  • Because it is high in oxalic acid, consumption should be avoided or limited by those suffering from kidney disorders, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • It is effective for improving constipation just as most vegetable does but when it is eaten in excess can cause stomach upset and frequent stooling.

Plant Description

Waterleaf is a small, short-lived, erect, strongly branched, herbaceous perennial plant that normally grows about 30 to 100 cm (12 to 39 in) tall and a width of 50 centimeters from swollen, fleshy roots. The plant is found growing in plantation crops, roadsides, shaded areas, waste places, forests edges, Yungas forest, dry Chaco forest, open woodland, pinelands, hammocks, and disturbed areas. The plant prefers well-drained but moist, humus-rich fertile soil, though it will succeed in relatively poor soils. Stem is circular, fleshy, little branched, with alternating phyllotaxis from the base and verticilated phyllotaxis just below the inflorescence.


The leaves are arranged spirally almost nearly opposite, often crowded at the top of the stem and indistinctly or with petioles 2 –10 mm long. The leaf-blades are usually spoon-shaped, with a size of measure about 3-15 cm long and 1-6 cm wide, entire and succulent, obtuse to round and occasionally notched at the apex.


The inflorescence is a long peduncled, terminal, corymboid thyrsus, with a size of measure about 5-30 cm long, with a 2-5 erect, sharply triangular axes where each with 8-28-flowered. The flowers are bisexual and it is a measure about 0.5-2.5 cm in diameter. The pedicels elongate after anthesis. There are 2 sepals, about 5-7 mm long, needle-pointed, free, green in color and persistent. The 5 pink petals are obovate in shape and up to measuring 10 mm long and 4 mm wide. The stamens are 20-40. The style is 2-3-fid while the ovary is superior. Flowers open during the day from 09 to 16 hours.


Fertile flowers are followed by 3 angled; globose or subglobose capsules opening by three separate valves; valves are usually caducous, intervalvular membrane and filament absent. They are pale yellow colored and about 5 mm in diameter and 6 – 7 mm long that is explosively dehiscent, and scatters the tiny black seeds over quite an area.


The seeds are numerous, compressed spherical-kidney-shaped, with a size of measure about 0.8-1.2 mm long, granulate, smooth, brown or blackish and superficially reticulate, the surface being covered with small, irregularly arranged papillose protuberances, these denser towards the margins; membranous caruncle are absent.

Health benefit of Waterleaf

Waterleaf vegetable consists of lots of water and nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, crude fiber, lipids, crude protein and others which make them nutritious and medicinal in several ways. Listed below are some of the popular health benefits of using waterleaf

1. Promotes Heart Health

When consumed on a daily basis, waterleaf performs a key role in maintaining the cardiovascular system. It helps to keep the heart healthy by regulating the activities of the heart and decrease the risk of related heart diseases as well as stroke by sufficiently supply of blood and oxygen to the needed areas. It also helps in decreasing the cholesterol levels in the blood, which is good for the prevention and improvement of heart-related conditions.

2. Prevents cancer

Consuming waterleaf has the extraordinary benefit for preventing cancer. Cancer is a disease that attacks normal cells, belonging to deadly diseases in the world. Many cancer patients cannot be cured with a total of many that lead to death. So, one way to prevent cancer is to consume waterleaf regularly.

3. Helps in Digestion

Waterleaves are an excellent vegetable that is 100% healthy for the body even when consumed together with the stem which helps to decrease constipation and aid in proper digestion of food.

Problems with indigestion seem to alleviate when waterleaf is eaten and helps to soften the stool as well but when eaten in excess can cause a little stomach discomfort.

4. Eliminates Infections & Diseases

Waterleaf consists of antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties that help to suppress the growth of bacteria, fungi and inflammatory diseases in the body. It has been proven effective for the treatment of Atherosclerosis which results as the arteries in the body is been gathered with fats and cholesterols thereby making the walls of the artery to be narrow. This makes the blood flow to be interrupted and can even cause a total blockage in the artery thus leading to many health conditions like stroke, heart attack and more.

Waterleaf consumption has been locally used in the treatment and prevention of this health condition, for more effective results, the leaf should be washed and properly squeezed to extract the juice which has to be taken orally. There is no measurement for the quantity of waterleaf juice to be taken but it should be moderate.

5. Good for Weight loss

Waterleaf serves as a weight loss diet due to the amount of fiber content in it. But it should be taken on a regular basis either used in a salad or steamed to a certain temperature.

Fiber content makes the stomach fuller thus removing the chances of craving for more food, its water content also helps in this case, which makes it one of the vegetables to be added to our daily meal for proper weight management. It helps to improve weight; we have to also eat healthy at all times for the effectiveness of this nutrient.

6. Strong Bones and Teeth

The presence of calcium in this vegetable helps in maintaining strong bones and teeth. In general, it gives support to the body skeletal structure and improves skeletal function. Calcium is very vital in the formation of bones in the body, and the content of this mineral in waterleaf makes it one of the foods suitable for those who have osteoporosis, fracture, and more, as it can help in its improvement.

7. Promotes Eye Health

Waterleaf consists of good amount vitamin A which helps to enhance vision in poor light and as well helps in the improvement of the skeletal tissue and the skin due to its content of vitamin A1 as known as Retinol. Vitamin A can help in providing the eye with the necessary nutrients which it needs to prevent some of the eye-related conditions like cataracts, macular degeneration and more. Therefore, the intake of waterleaf in the right amount will result in a healthy eye.

Waterleaf also consists of vitamin C which helps to maintain a healthy eye by preventing the retina from damages which might be caused by free radicals and other health conditions that affect the eyes like dry eyes, conjunctival hemorrhages, and even cataracts.

8. Enhances Cognitive Ability

Regular consumption of Waterleaf has a good effect on the cognitive ability because of the presence of certain constituents which helps to improve cerebral blood flow and cognitive function.

Due to its ability to improve the flow of blood, it helps the brain to function sufficiently by providing it with adequate oxygen as well in order to prevent/improve Cerebral Hypo perfusion, Schizophrenia as well as the death of the brain tissues.

Presence of iron in waterleaf helps also in the strengthening of the brain muscles and tissues which helps in the improvement of the human brain, thus improving the cognitive reasoning as well.

9. Improves Blood Clotting

Waterleaf has a great effect on the blood which makes it one of the vegetables which have to be incorporated into our daily meal due to its effectiveness. It helps in the improvement of blood clotting and prevents new ones from forming just like thrombus which might be formed in ones of the blood vessels interfering with the flow of blood.

Though thrombus can be termed healthy when it functions to stop bleeding on injuries by making the blood to form a clot but can be termed unhealthy when the clot formation tends to block the blood vessels. Therefore, the intake of waterleaf in whatever form can help prevent such occurrences and even help improve existing ones due to their anti-inflammatory properties and others.

10. Prevents Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis disease is a disease affecting the arterial wall where the growth of excess fat in the section. The growth of the fat in artery walls can cause obstructed blood flow and perfect flow to the brain and our heart. Thus, consume waterleaf may prevent atherosclerosis.

11. Improves the Blood Cells

The crude protein contained in waterleaf is an important supplement both in quality and nutritional perspective which plays a very important role in the human blood cell.

It functions when it comes to blood cells in the body can’t be exaggerated. It is believed to help in the adequate pumping of blood and its supply and as such is used in many cases such as in the treatment of anemia.

It generally helps in improving the blood cells which includes both the white and red blood cells, and with the content of iron as well helps in this case.

12. Manages Blood Pressure

If you are searching for home remedies to manage your blood pressure, waterleaf juice might be the beverage for you. The ideal amount of fiber and minerals present in the juice helps in the management of both the heart rate and the blood pressure. Regular consumption of waterleaf juice can help you prevent health issues like hypertension and cardiovascular problems.

13. Prevents Cataracts

Our eyes need vitamin C in order to function appropriately. Lack of vitamin C can cause cataracts, where the eye’s lens becomes increasingly opaque. Cataracts cause blurred vision and can end in blindness in adults. High intake of vitamin C will prevent cataracts because it will increase the amount of blood flow to the eye.

14. Promotes Good Skin

Waterleaf is a good source of vitamins A and C that aids the repair and growth of the body cells and tissues. The process results in healthy and beautiful skin. The antioxidants in the juice are an ideal solution to improve skin pigmentation and hydrate it. The juice keeps dryness at bay and gives you glowing healthy skin. Make sure, you drink waterleaf juice in moderation for the best results.

15. Beneficial in Pregnancy

Waterleaf is beneficial for pregnant women because of the presence of Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins in the juice. As the juice boosts the blood level, it’s beneficial for both the mother and the baby. Juice also prevents health issues like anemia in the mother. Still, if you are expecting, you should always consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet. This is to understand if certain additions are required in your dietary preferences or not.

16. Manages Blood Sugar

High dietary contents of Waterleaf help to slow down the digestion and conversion of starch to simple sugars. It is worthy to note that this is essential for managing diabetes mellitus. It regulates the cholesterol level due to its high dietary fiber content. Research pointed out that Waterleaf is beneficial for regulating cholesterol level.  This is because the dietary fiber reduces the absorption of cholesterol from the gut thus protecting the body from any disease associated with bad cholesterol in the body.

Traditional uses and benefits of Waterleaf

  • The plant is used as a treatment for measles and diabetes.
  • Tonic is made from the fleshy root.
  • Waterleaf is most times called the “blood-pumping machines” as it plays a vital role in the sufficient production of blood in the human body.
  • It is good for pregnant women as it helps increase their blood levels and as well, supply them with other vital nutrients that the body needs.
  • Its juice, stem, leaves, and roots are all considered effective as they have proven successful in the treatment of measles.
  • It can also treat insomnia, anemia, malaria, arthritis reduce blood sugar and blood pressure.
  • It is also used in the treatment of diarrhea, improve weakness and more.
  • Waterleaf helps to promote brain function, maintain skin health, and prevent cancer, bladder stone, and more.
  • Crushed plant is applied as a poultice on contusion, inflammation and tumor.
  • Decoctions are used for painful eyes and to aid recovery from blows and falls.
  • Mostly the leaves can use in painful eyes and the roots as internal treatment.
  • Mayan people applied crushed leaves on sores, inflammation, and swelling.

Culinary Uses

  • Leaves and flowers can be used raw in salads or cooked.
  • All parts, including roots, young shoots are used in making soups, stews etc.
  • Combined with the leaves of eru and fufu, it is considered a delicacy.
  • Best lightly steamed, they should not be overcooked or they will become excessively soft and mucilaginous.
  • Leaves are used as a coloring agent in okra soup.
  • The leaves have a slightly sour taste; they can be finely chopped and added to salads.
  • They are used to prepare waterleaf soup, waterleaf stew or sauce, yam, salad and more.
  • In the southern part of Nigeria, waterleaf is used in making special soup known as Edikang Ikong and Afang, Mgbolodi Soup and more.
  • Leaves are used in the preparation of slightly slimy soups and stews to complement the starchy main dish.
  • Fresh leaves and stems eaten raw or added to omelets, sandwiches.
  • In many countries, it is used as a substitute for spinach.
  • Tonic drink is made from the leaf ginseng root.

How to make Waterleaf Juice

Most people may not be versatile with waterleaf juice, as it is mainly used in cooking, serving as an important vegetable in many local cuisines in Nigeria. The juice of waterleaf is very beneficial to health and is useful in increasing the blood level and also in the treatment of many health conditions, which has proven successful.

To get the juice

  • Wash the waterleaf thoroughly to remove dirt and sand
  • Don’t pluck the leaves from the stem as both are medicinal and contain various degrees of nutrients.
  • Cut it into tiny pieces to enable easy squeezing or pounding.
  • Then squeeze effectively and strain the juice.
  • Alternatively, a blender can do this work, but in case there is none, the above method should be considered.






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