Habit: Vajradanti is an ornamental and medicinal plant. It is an erect, bushy, prickly undershrub reaching up to 0.6-1.5 m high. It grows throughout the hotter parts of Asia. It is used as a hedge plant. During the dry season its stems, leaves, and flowers die off but the roots remain alive. The vegetation re-grows during the rainy season.
Root: Vajradanti has a central taproot, with lateral roots. Its surface is rough due to numerous dot-like pores and root scars of fallen roots. The external surface is greyish-brown, and the bark is thin with the smooth internal surface. Wood is cream coloured; odour and taste are not characteristic.
Stem: The stems are erect, between 1-8 mm thick. The branching is at nodes. The young stem is grey, slightly four angled, usually with 3-4 spines at the axil of a leaf. Mature stems are cylindrical with longitudinally arranged or scattered dot-like pores; externally greyish to light brown; a few mature stems can be slightly hollow.
Leaves: The leaves are variable in size and can be up to 10 cm long – 4 cm wide.
Flower: The flowers have 5 yellow petals which are arranged to form a tube at the end. The stamen and anthers push beyond the petals. The ovary is a fusion of two carpels and the flower has two stigmas.
Fruit: The fruit is a two-celled capsule, which explodes to release the seeds.
Seed: The seed capsule (2cm) contains two large seeds that are oval-shaped. The seeds are 8mm long-5mm wide, flat, with silky hairs.
Pollinators: Bees, butterflies and beetles
Seed Dispersal: Seed dispersal happens as the fruit explodes releasing the seeds.
Where they grow: It grows in well drained sandy soil and needs the full sun.
Medicinal: The leaves are known to be antiseptic, diuretic and are a tonic. They are chewed in the treatment of fever, rheumatism, liver diseases, indigestion with constipation, and urinary infections
Plant extracts are known to suppress fungal growth.
A mouthwash made from the root tissue is used for cleaning teeth. It helps relieve tooth ache and helps with bleeding gums.
Leaves are used to promote healing of wounds, joint pains and toothaches.
Extracts of the plant are used in many herbal skin creams to protect against skin infections as it has antiseptic properties.
Plant extracts have also been shown to have hepatoprotective. Root extract has been shown to reduce fertility of male rats by 100%. It could be anti-spermatogenic.
The bitter juice of the plant is given to children as a treatment for catarrh