Quillquina : Porophyllum ruderale

Updated 07/07/22

Also called,

chapáhuate (Totonac), chucha, cilantro boliviano, Bolivian coriander, Killkiña, (Bolivia) Quilquiña / Quillquiña / Quirquiña (del quechua killkiña), killi, namu, anamu (strongly scented herb), chucha, guacamaya, Picão-branco, cravo de urubu (black vulture marigold)(Brazil), yerba de cabra (goat plant), yerba de venado (deer grass), yerba del ciervo (deer grass), yerba galinazo (buzzards breath), yerba porosa, rudade gallina, venadillo, xac’ani, arnica paulistana (São Paulo), Comida de zorro, Cominillo, Ruda blanca, Yerba de la gama, Yerba Porosa. Curupaimi, Pus pus, Couvinha, Erva fresca, Poreleaf, Summer cilantro, Coriandre bolivienne (France), Ketumbar Bolivia (indonesia), Senggit mangga ngora (Sundanese), also called papaloquelite

  1. Synonyms – P.ellipticum, Cacalia porophyllum L., Cacalia ruderalis (Jacq.) Sw., Cacalia glandulosa Salisb., Kleinia ruderalis Jacq.,Tagetes integrifolia.  Another source states that P.ellipticum (along with P. latifolium) is a synonym of P.macrocephalum

P.ruderale (Quillquiña) is used in Bolivian and Peruvian cooking in a salsa called Llajwa (or Llajua) made from tomatoes, rocoto chiles and quillquiña, particularly in the area of Cochabamba. In the Altiplano area quillquiña is replaced with huacatay (1) in this dish. Quillquiña is often paired with rocoto (similar to a manzano) chiles (2). Rocoto chiles were the favoured of the Inca, so it stands to reason that this herb has been used for many hundreds of years. I find this herb to have a slightly wilder flavour than papalo, perhaps this is why it pairs so well with the rocoto, which is considered a somewhat macho chile. All varieties of this herb are usually paired with hot chiles (3). There is mention of this herb being used as a salad green.

  1. Tagetes minuta – Peruvian Black Mint (see Post on Huacatay)
  2. a medium-hot chile with a fruity flavour of the Capsicum pubescens variety. They are unique in that they have hairy leaves (hence the name pubescens) and black seeds.
  3. Papaloquelite (P.macrocephalum) is often paired with chipotle chile (the dried, smoked jalapeno chile)

Casas (etal 2016) notes that the Mixtec of La Montaña de Guerrero (1) differentiate two varieties of quelite (in general). A masculine “macho” and a feminine “hembra”. Macho herbs (generally speaking) had thinner, harder and in some cases pubescent (2) leaves. These plants are more bitter and fibrous in texture. They are weeded from active fields but are allowed to grow in fallow fields. Hembra herbs have wider, tender, glabrous (3) leaves that are more palatable as a foodstuff. They are the preferred variety of the plant and will be left alone and allowed to grow in the milpa.

  1. one of seven regions of the State of Guerrero in Mexico. Guerrero lies west of Oaxaca and south of Puebla
  2. “hairy”. When you see the word pubescens in a plants name it means there will be some kind of hairs (or prickles) on the plants leaves, stems, fruits etc
  3. smooth
Purple coloration on porophyllum stem

It was also noted that other quelites were classified, used and managed according to their colour. For instance, Porophyllum ruderale was classified as either “white” or “purple”. The white variety has light green stems and leaves and is the preferred variety (although both are appreciated). It is cultivated and available year round. The purple variety has leaves and stems with purple areas. This variety is “tolerated”, it is consumed less than the white variety and is available only during the dry season (Casa etal 2016). Although it is not specifically cultivated its seeds are spread on roadsides and in fallow fields and allowed to grow as nature allows (Blancas etal 2013).

Llajua (Llajwa) – Bolivian Salsa


  • 1 large, ripe, red tomato
  • 1 Rocoto or manzano chile (substitute with fresh jalapeno chiles)
  • Small bunch quillquiña


  1. Grind together all ingredients (preferably in a molcajete). You can use the seeds of the chile in the salsa if you want it to be hotter
  2. Add salt to taste

Medicinal Uses

The herb is used medicinally in Bolivia for stomach and belly pain (1) and to combat cold weather and against coughing (2).(Thomas and Vandebroek 2006). In a book on Indigenous food sovereignty in the USA (Mihesuah & Hoover 2019) it was noted that his herb is used to soothe coughs and headaches and to reduce flatulence after consuming legumes.

  1. boil two plants (it does not mention whether the whole plant is used or just the aerial parts) in 500ml of water for 10 minutes. This is drunk in the morning for 3 days. (no dosage given – I assume the whole lot is to be drunk – this is the equivalent of 2 cups per morning)
  2. boil a handful of mashed flowers and leaves in a litre of water for 2 minutes. This must be drunk in the afternoon (again no dosage is given – I would assume no more than 2 cups per day is to be taken)

A Brazilian paper (Souza et al 2003) states that P.ruderale is used traditionally in the treatment of epilepsy and as a remedy for genital inflammation.  It also mentions that the alcoholic extract of P.ruderale has shown in-vitro action against promastigote forms of the protozoan that causes Leishmaniosis (1). The anti-leishmanial activity of P. ruderale is related to thiophenes in the plant which promote mitochondrial dysfunction in Leishmania amazonensis. (Takashi etal 2013). The two compounds extracted from the herb for this experiment showed low levels of toxicity for human cells, even at the highest concentrations (haemolytic index < 10 % at 500 µg/mL). Silva (etal 1996) also notes that extracts of P.ruderale are non-toxic. The aqueous extract obtained from whole plants did not show toxic effects when administered orally at a dose of (52,500mg) 52.5g/kg. For comparison aspirin is toxic at the (MUCH) lower dose of 200-300mg per kg of bodyweight (2).

  1. An ulcerating skin condition caused by the bite of a variety of sand-fly. One form, visceral leishmaniasis (black fever) can be fatal if left untreated. In Campeche this infectious bite is known as papalotilla.
  2. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/poison/aspirin-overdose

Another Brazilian study (Gabrielle M etal) has shown an aqueous extraction of P.ruderale leaves to have anti-nociceptive (1) and anti-inflammatory actions. This is quite interesting as the Chacobo Indians of Bolivia are said to use pápalo leaves to reduce swelling in infections. Quattrocchi (2012) notes that a leaf decoction of P.ruderale is used to treat nausea during menstruation and as an eyewash for children (although to treat what is not mentioned). In Venezuela the roots of P. ruderale are used in treating snakebite and to relieve pain from rheumatism and erysipelas, a bacterial disease of the skin. (Pittier, 1926). A study conducted at the University of Bucharest on an extract of the leaves of Porophyllum ruderale and laser irradiation on the healing of burns was effective in decreasing the granulocytes during the repair process indicating a possible anti-inflammatory action of this herb. (Jácomo 2015).

  1. Inhibits the sensation of pain

In Brazil this herb is known as Arnica Paulista (1) and is listed as being antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic. It is used to treat gout, relieve joint pain and as a bronchodilator. It is also noted that it can be used as an anti-clotting agent and to heal bruises. An infusion of this herb is also used to treat hepatitis and the kidneys in general. In the Brazilian coastal community of fishermen on Buzios Island a leaf infusion of this herb is used to treat diarrhoea. Brazilians know this herb as Picão-branco and Ulysses (etal. 2012) notes the infusion is used for the treatment of hepatitis, the kidneys, wound healing, as a blood cleanser, pain, bone fractures, hypertension and uterine inflammation. Other ethnomedical uses of this herb reported in Brazil are for fever and for addressing the inflammation of infected wounds (Thomas and Vandebroek 2006)

  1. See Post : The Poreleaf in Brazil for more in depth information on the medicinal use of the plant in that country

Cech, an American herbalist, calls this herb Quilquiña and gives some instruction for its use. He notes it as a tasty and powerful digestive and anti-flatulent, generally taken with food and after overeating. It is a gentle liver stimulant and a bile stimulant. A 1:2 tincture of fresh leaves and succulent stems is made with a menstruum (1) of 100% alcohol (of 180 proof strength or higher) or a 1:5 tincture of dried herb (menstruum 75% alc : 25% water) is used. The dosage is 30 – 60 drops diluted in a little water and taken 3 – 5 times/day. The child dosage is half of this. Alternatively an infusion of the herb can be taken (2 – 3 cups/day)

  1. Menstruum – the solvent used to extract the medicinal constituents in the herb

In Central America there is a condition known as papalomayo (1). It is a deep ulcerous wound caused by a protozoan that is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito. Scientifically papalomayo is known as cutaneous leishmaniasis (Veraldi etal 2012). It is common in the tropical regions around Colombia and Costa Rica. The scar that remains after the ulcer has healed is known as the mark of the BriBrí. (2)

  1. or papalomoyo, from the Nahuatl  papalotl – butterfly and moyotl – mosquito
  2. or the “mark of Talamanca”. The Bribri are an indigenous people of Costa Rica. They live in the Talamanca (canton) in Limón Province of Costa Rica.

In Curaçao, an island country in the southern Caribbean Sea, P.ruderale is called mampuritu and is considered a valuable medicinal herb. A decoction of the leaves is employed against stomach complaints; gas, bloating and pain (particularly in children). A weak leaf decoction is drunk for nausea during menstruation and is often taken as a pleasant beverage and to stimulate the appetite (Morton 1968)

Essential oils have been collected from the leaves and flowers of P.ruderale and tested through a process of gas chromatograph mass spectrometry. A total of 43 chemical constituents were found, of which 17 were identified. The major constituent found was the monoterpene beta-phellandrene, although this differed according to the geographic origin of the plant. (Souza etal). Isosafrole, α-copaene and phytol were also isolated from this oil. (Conde-Hernandez etal)

The oil of P.ruderale was shown to be effective in the delaying of inflammatory cell migration and Souza mentioned that this may be effective in controlling the inflammatory processes of some bacterial infections and allergen specific asthma. It has been found that this oil has an effective antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and the minimum inhibitory concentration of essential oil for effective antibacterial activity was 20µg/ml and the zone of inhibition was 19mm. (Rondon 2008) (2)

Another study on the oils in P.ruderale (Fontes-Jr etal) shows promise as an ecologically safe larvicidal agent against the mosquito responsible for Yellow and Dengue fevers (1)

  1. Aedes aegypti
  2. In microbiology, the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) is the lowest concentration of a chemical which prevents visible growth of a bacterium. This is in difference to the minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) which is the concentration resulting in microbial death as defined by the inability to re-culture bacteria. The closer the MIC is to the MBC, the more bactericidal the compound

In the document Diagnóstico del pápaloquelite en México professors Lara, Boettler and Ovando at the Universidad Autónoma Chapingo in México list the medicinal actions of P.ruderale as,

  • Acaricide – a substance poisonous to mites or ticks.
  • Allelochemical – a chemical produced by a living organism that exerts a detrimental physiological effect on individuals of another species when released into the environment.
  • Allergic – capable of reducing allergic reactions
  • Analgesic – a remedy that relieves or allays pain.
  • Antiasthmatic 
  • Anticancer 
  • Anticonvulsant  
  • Anti-inflammatory 
  • Antimicrobial 
  • Antimutagenic – capable of reducing the frequency of mutation.
  • Antioxidant 
  • Antiseptic 
  • Antispasmodic 
  • Antitumor (prostate)
  • Antitumor (stomach)
  • Antiviral 
  • Diuretic 
  • Expectorant – promotes the discharge of phlegm or other fluid from the respiratory tract.
  • Fungicide
  • Insecticide
  • Laxative
  • Nematicidal – a type of chemical pesticide used to kill plant-parasitic nematodes (or roundworms – a diverse animal phylum inhabiting a broad range of environments of which more than half are parasitic)
  • Trichomonicidal – (Destructive to trichomonads) – flagellate protozoans of the genus Trichomonas, most of which are parasitic

Nutritional components of P.ruderale
Data per 100 g of edible portion (5)
Calcium mg/100g 3717.28
Potassium mg/100g 1165.89
Magnesium mg/100g 387.18
Vitamin A mg/100g 1951.25
Vitamin C mg/100g 1.65
Protein g/100g 23.1
Fibre g/100g 16.0
Carbohydrates g/100g 40.7
Some of the figures in this chart (Ca, K, Vitamin A) seem very high but the figures are displayed as reported (2)

Despite the consumption of P.ruderale in southern Texas and Latin America it has no GRAS (1) status as a culinary herb (DeBaggio etal, 2009, p410)

  1. GRAS. Generally Recognised As Safe
  2. Mera Ovando LM; Alvarado Flores R; Basurto Peña F; Bye Boeltler RA; Castro Lara D; Evangelista V; Mapes Sánchez C; Martínez Alfaro MA; Molina N; Saldívar J : De quelites me como un taco. : Revista del Jardín Botánico Nacional : Vol 24, No 1/2 : pp 45-49. (2003)

In Northern Peru, where this plant is locally known as Hierba Gallinazo it is used by curanderos as a smudging herb (1) to clean the home of negative energies or as a topical treatment for Daño (2)/Fright / Susto (3)(Bussman et al 2010)

  1. Burn with Llatama (this herb is variously identified as Ambrosia peruviana, Salvia discolor, Miconia salicifolia, Aloysia triphylla), Ajos Giro (Cordia alliodora), Añasquero Chico (Trixis cacalioides), 5g each herb. 2 times per month.
  2. Daño – translates variously as damage/harm/injury/evil
  3. 5g each (per 3L of water)of Llantén (not identified), Ajos Giros (Cordia alliodora), Hierba Gallinazo (P.ruderale), Hierba del Romero (Rosmarinus officinalis), Flor del Huerto (not identified – translates as flowers from the garden)**See NOTES below**, Eucalyptus, add Floripondio flowers (Brugmansia arborea), Retama (Spartium junceum) and Añasquero Chico (Trixis cacalioides). Bathe with this twice per month on a Tuesday and Friday only. Rub body with herbs. Rinse with the water. Do not dry with a towel. Allow to air dry.

**NOTES** Flor de Huerto may be a typo on the initial document I used for reference (Bussmann etal 2010). I have since read further works by Bussmann (and Co) where the herb is listed as being Flor de muerto (1). If this is the case then the flower being referred to is likely the cempasuchil or Tagetes erecta.

  1. See Post : The Pore Leaf in Peru for further information on this

A holistic treatment clinic in Acapulco (the Consultorio Holístico Ishmark) uses P.ruderale (which they call papaloquelite) for the microdosing treatment of several conditions.

The herb is noted as being useful for…

  • It is rich in essential minerals and other compounds such as calcium, iron, riboflavin, retinol, ascorbic acid, phosphorus, which help the body to function properly.
  • It contains a large amount of antioxidants, which help cell health.
  • Helps the heart regulate high blood pressure.
  • Reduces cholesterol, helps prevent atherosclerosis (accumulation of fat in the walls of the arteries).
  • Improves digestion and strengthens the immune system.
  • Its medicinal use is recommended to treat liver diseases, such as congestion or gallstones.
  • As it is a herb rich in calcium, it protects the bone system.
  • Relieves diarrhoea and dysentery (infection characterized by inflammation of the large intestine).
  • Benefits the ocular system.
  • Provides vitamins of complex A, C and B.
  • It is not contraindicated with any other treatment

The Brazilians have by far provided the best instructions on using P.ruderale medicinally.
For topical use, it is indicated in the treatment of eczema (skin eruptions or coarse/rough skin) and erysipelas (1). For these cases, prepare an infusion with 1 cup (tea) of crushed and chopped leaves in 1 litre of boiling water. Leave to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and apply in the form of compresses on the affected areas.
As an anti-inflammatory, and also against fever, the infusion can be prepared by adding 1 cup (tea) of boiling water to 1 level spoon (soup) of chopped leaves. Drink 2 cups of tea a day.
In the fight against inflammation and pain in the joints and for treating contusions (bruises), use 4 tablespoons of the chopped fresh herb, 3 cups of alcohol (96 Graus GL)(4) in a cup (250ml) of water. Leave to macerate for 6 hours. Strain, store in a dark bottle. Use for massages and rubs on the affected areas.
Cravinho is also used to fight mycoses (2). Its (freshly extracted) juice or alcoolatura (3) should be used for this. To obtain the juice, mash the leaves, extract the juice and apply to the affected area 2 to 3 times a day. To make alcoolatura, use 3 tablespoons of chopped leaves in 1 cup of alcohol (96 Graus GL)(4) and 1 tablespoon of water. Leave to macerate for 24 hours. Strain, filter and store in a dark bottle for up to 5 days. After this period, make another solution. Apply 3 times a day in mycoses of the skin and nails. Both juice and alcohol should be used until the lesions disappear, and then the treatment should be continued for another 1 or 2 weeks.

  1. Erysipelas is a superficial form of cellulitis, a potentially serious bacterial infection affecting the skin. Erysipelas affects the upper dermis and extends into the superficial cutaneous lymphatics. It is also known as St Anthony’s fire due to the intense rash associated with it. Symptoms may include redness and pain at the affected site, fevers and chills. Erysipelas requires treatment with antibiotics to prevent the spread of infection. Medication for pain and fever may also be used.
  2. mycosis, plural mycoses, in humans and other animals, an infection caused by any fungus that invades the tissues, causing superficial, subcutaneous, or systemic disease. Many different types of fungi can cause mycosis, and some types, such as Cryptococcus and Histoplasma, can cause severe, life-threatening infections
  3. Alcoholaturas (for all intents and purposes a “tincture” are pharmaceutical preparations that result from the dissolving and extractive action of alcohol on fresh vegetable drugs. And they can be prepared cold or boiling, obtaining ordinary and stabilized alcohols (alcoolaturas ordinárias e estabilizadas). These preparations had their origin in the mother tinctures used in homeopathy, in the maceration product: chopped plant in immersion in extractor liquid for 15 hours in the softer parts of the vegetable and 24 hours in the more rigid parts. The elaboration of ordinary alcohols (alcoolaturas ordinárias) is made by maceration for ten days, of the fresh drug cut under alcohol at 90° in a hermetically closed vessel, with the use of alcohol of high degree. The relative amount between the drug and the alcohol is from 1 : 1 to 1 : 2.
  4. What is 96 GL alcohol? The GL degree corresponds to Gay-Lussac degrees, which indicate the amount in one liter of pure alcohol (ethanol) present in every 100 parts of the solution. For example, in this case 96 ° GL means that in every 100 mL we have 96 mL of alcohol and 4 mL of water. Thus, this value is a percentage by volume ( 96 %v/v and 77%v/v).


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