Herb: Tar Vine

Latin name: Boerhavia diffusa

Synonyms: Boerhavia coccinea, Boerhavia repens

Family: Nyctaginaceae (Four-o'clock Family)

Medicinal use of Tar Vine:

The roots are diuretic, emetic, expectorant, laxative and stomachic. They are used in the treatment of asthma, oedema, anaemia, jaundice, ascites, anasarca, scanty urine and internal inflammation. They are also said to be an antidote to snake poisoning. An alkaloid in the roots has been shown experimentally to produce a distinct and persistent rise in blood pressure plus marked diuresis.

Description of the plant:


10 cm
(4 inches)

Habitat of the herb:

A pioneer of bare areas, usually found on dry sandy soils.

Edible parts of Tar Vine:

Tender young leaves and shoots - cooked and used as a vegetable. Root - baked. Rich in carbohydrate and protein, though the flavour is bland and the texture sometimes woody. Seed - cooked. It can be ground into a powder and added to cereals when making bread, cakes etc.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - we have no information on this species but suggest sowing the seed in a greenhouse in the spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings

Cultivation of Tar Vine:

A pioneer of bare areas, usually found on dry sandy soils.

Known hazards of Boerhavia diffusa:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.