Acmella uliginosa (Marsh Para Cress) Uses: Medicinal and Others

Marsh Para Cress (Scientific name is Acmella uliginosa) is an invasive plant that originated in America and has become one of the common weeds of Asia and Africa. I have seen this plant near my father-in-law’s house in the Jamalpur district of Bangladesh. Acmella uliginosa is also a common plant in India and other south Asian countries.

Though most of us know very little about it, people take this plant as a vegetable in Africa. And yes, it has nutritional and medicinal values. But be cautious about taking this plant from nature as many look-alike plants are toxic.

General information

  • Acmella uliginosa belongs to the Asteraceae family. So, sunflower is its near relative.
  • It can grow up to 0.3m long. This plant has non-woody stems.
  • These plants are annual herbs. So, they live for only one growing season and die after flowering.
  • Stems of Acmella uliginosa grow along the ground horizontally and have roots from the creeping stems at intervals.
  • They have ovate, lance-shaped evergreen leaves with toothed margins. The leaves are deep green. Leaves are 2-9 cm in length and 0.4-4cm in width.
  • Marsh Para Cress has attractive tiny (5-6 mm in diameter) yellow tubular flowers.
  • They produce small black color fruits. The fruit is spiny and has 1 to 5 tiny (less than 2mm) seeds.


  • Marsh Para Cress (Acmella uliginosa) is found widely in Asia, America and Tropical Asia.
  • These plants can spread fast horizontally with little need for soil moisture and nutrients.
  • They can grow in almost all soil types with different pH conditions. But they love wet soil with moderate sunshine.
  • If undisturbed, Marsh Para Cress can cover a large area. They are found on barren fields, roadsides, river banks, near water basins, etc.
  • This plant can grow in shady places, i.e., under trees. So, you will find it in forests also.

Medicinal values

  • Acmella uliginosa has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Rural people in tropical countries, including India, use floral parts and leaves as painkillers.
  • Malay people of Malaysia use this plant to relieve stomach pain, mouth ulcer pain, toothache pain and pain in the throat.

Other uses

  • Acmella uliginosa is a good covering plant species. It’s a creeping plant that spreads horizontally on the ground and covers the area with its foliage. So, you can use this plant as a good cover for unused ground space.
  • If you want a covering plant with tiny flowers, this plant could be on your choice list.
  • Marsh Para Cress can be planted on-road islands.
  • You can grow this plant in some unused parts of your garden. But as it spreads horizontally, you have to manage its spreading.
  • Some people in West Africa use this plant as a vegetable.


  • From seed: Acmella uliginosa produces tiny seeds. The seed is less than 2mm in diameter. Seeds can be dispersed through the wind. So, you can have this plant in your garden from seed.
  • From stem cuttings: Roots grow from the stems’ nodes in wet soil. Stem cuttings with these roots can be used easily to propagate Marsh Para Cress.

How to take care of Marsh Para Cress?

  • Light: This plant can grow under shade. But for good growth full sun is required.
  • Watering: This plant loves moist soil. But overwatering will be fatal for Acmella uliginosa. So, watering is required only in the case of dry conditions.
  • Pruning: Acmella uliginosa grows very fast and spreads horizontally. They can escape the allocated area in your garden. So, trimming is a regular task when growing this plant.
  • Disease and pest control: This plant has enough resistance against disease and insects.


  • Different variants of the same species may contain toxins. So, consuming Acmella uliginosa in one region may become fatal though it is safe in the other areas.
  • This plant may hide poisonous insects and snakes as a creeping plant species. So, think before choosing this plant to grow.
  • A non-toxic plant species may become toxic due to environmental and soil conditions.

How to control Marsh Para Cress/Acmella uliginosa?

Acmella uliginosa is mainly an invasive plant species. People rarely consider this plant as an ornament for their garden. This plant produces tiny seeds in its life cycle. These seeds can spread through wind and water. So, uproot these plants before the fruit set.

A B M Zahidul Hoque

I'm the owner of After completing my bachelor of science in agriculture, I have joined as a scientist at Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Bangladesh. I started Weeds in Gardens to make you familiar with different weeds and their positive and negative aspects.

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