Porophyllum punctatum

Synonym : Porophyllum millspaughii BL Rob.

Also called: Tlapanche, tepepapaloquilitl, eek’ puk che’ (Maya), hierba de dunas costeras, hierba del venado, mal de ojo, paloquelite, pech’ uk’ (Maya), pech’uk-il (Maya), pioja, pio-jillo (Nahuatl), Mata piojo (louse killer), piojillo, piojo, papalillo pipisca de venado, pipixat, pipitzcaquilitl, quelite, ruda de monte, sorrio, tepalcachu, ucuchoo, uk’ che’ (Maya), uk’ xiw (Maya), xiiw (Maya), xpechuekil, x- pechuk’il, yerba de piojo, ziz’ 


A plant appearing to be P.punctatum has been used in the advertising for a National Park in Mazatlan. The interesting thing about the images is the presence of a fig-like structure (photo bottom right). I have never seen such a thing before. Further research has shown that some species of Porophyllum can be affected by a gall midge that causes swollen structures on the plant. These swellings are where the midge has laid eggs and its larvae grows in a type of cocoon within the plant. A similar phenomenon occurs in Oak trees (Quercus species)

Gall midge swellings in the stems of Porophyllum gracile

**UPDATE** 07/04/22

On 23 Sep 2021 Hugo van Vliet uploaded several images of a plant identified as Mal de Ojo (P.punctatum) on the Ecucador iNaturaliste site. The most interesting images included two of the “swellings” (fruits) as shown in the Mazatlan National Park advertisement. These photos were taken at Cerro del Vigia in Mazatlan in the State of Sinaloa. These definitely appear to be fruits of some variety. They may also be a flowerhead after blooming and before the pappus (seed head) appears? I doubt they are a gall (although the galls are still quite interesting)

This image was taken in Sinaloa (no other location given) in 2017 http://bdi.conabio.gob.mx/fotoweb/

Medicinal Use

Gerardo notes in his book (Regalado 2014) that P.punctatum has been used as an effective treatment against gonorrhoea (Page 226) and Standley (1926) also mentions that an infusion of P. punctatum is employed as a remedy for gonorrhoea in the Yucatan.

In Morelos and the Yucatan this herb is used to treat dysuria (1) and other kidney ailments, a decoction of porophyllum leaf stems and leaves of the Mexican lime tree are drunk on an empty stomach.

  1. Painful or difficult urination

To treat gallbladder issues a weak decoction of leaves, flowers and stems is drunk once in the evening for 7 days. Other medicinal uses listed are for the treatment of chronic ulcers, scabies, ringworm, night sweats (which are not caused by external heat) and “cold sweat” in children.

Arellano Rodriguez (etal 2003) notes that this plant is emollient (1) and has medicinal uses in the treatment of wounds, scabs (cicatrisant) (2) and chronic ulcers (it isn’t mentioned whether these are stomach ulcers or ulceration of the skin – I’m thinking skin). It also has use in the treatment of scabies and as an agent to kill lice.

A paper from the University of Guadalajara notes that an infusion of this plant can be taken as an anti-inflammatory.

Andrade and Heirich (2005) note that an infusion of flowers of this plant (which they call piojillo) can be used as a hypoglycaemic agent (3).

  1. Emollients are non-cosmetic moisturisers that help skin to feel more comfortable and less itchy. They keep the skin moist and flexible, helping to prevent cracks.
  2. Reduces scar formation
  3. substances that lower glucose levels in the blood. They are commonly used in the treatment of diabetes mellitus (Type 2 diabetes). The term diabetes is derived from Latin (originally Greek) and means “to go through or siphon,” referring to a large amount of urine produced by the kidneys. The term mellitus, in Latin, means “sweet.” Diabetes mellitus causes high blood glucose levels and glucose eventually spills into the urine.


  • Andrade-Cetto, A., & Heinrich, M. (2005). Mexican plants with hypoglycaemic effect used in the treatment of diabetes. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 99(3), 325–348. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2005.04.019
  • Arellano Rodríguez, Alberto J, Jose Salvador Flores Guido, Juan Tun Garrido, Maria Mercedes Cruz Bojorquez : Nomenclatura, forma de vida, uso, manejo y distribución de las especies vegetales de la Península de Yucatán : Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia : Mérida, México ,2003 Arqueología Mexicana, Edición especial núm. 59, 3 ácatl / 2015.
  • Regalado, Gerardo G, : Plantas Medicinales de Aguascalientes : Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes : 2015 : ISBN 978-607-8359-83-7
  • Standley P.C. : Trees and Shrubs of Mexico : Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol 23 : Smithsonian Institution; Washington : 1926

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