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Family Piperaceae
Green peperomia
Peperomia obtusifolia Linn.

Scientific names Common names
Peperomia commutata Trel. Baby rubberplant (Engl.)
Peperomia cruciata Trel. Blunt-leaved peperomia (Engl.)
Peperomia fieldiana Trel. Green peperomia (Engl.)
Peperomia obtusifolia (L.) A.Dietr.  
Peperomia peninsularis Trel.  
Peperomia valerioi Trel.  
Piper humile Mill.  
Peperomia obtusifolium L.  
Rhynchophorum obtusifolium (L.) Small  
Peperomia obtusifolia (L.) A.Dietr. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
FRENCH GUIANA: Pourpier des savanes.

Peperomia obtusifolia is a fleshy, erect, succulent herb. Leaves are alternate, fleshy, spatulate-obovate, waxy green, up to 6 centimeters long, with a rounded or slightly notched apex and a tapering base with a short brown petiole. Spikes up to 15 centimeters long.

- A popular ornamental pot plant or hanging plant and ground cover in the Philippines.
- Propagated by stem cuttings.

• A study isolated five phenolic compounds with a methyl, isoprenyl and geranyl group on a benzene ring core.
• Study of leaves and stems yielded a new flavone C-diglycoside isoswertisin-4-methyl-ether-2?-L-rhmanoside along with four known compounds: isoswertisin-2?-L-rhamnoside (2), (+)-diayangambin (3), 2-episesalatin (4) and corchoionoside C (5). (see study below) (8)

• Antiscorbutic, antimalarial, antiarthritic.
• Studies suggest antifungal, trypanocidal and air-cleaning properties.

- No known folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- In the Guianas, folkloric use for malaria and arthritis. Decoction of stem and leaves applied as febrifuge. Also, used for albuminuria and malaria.
- The French Guiana Wayapi crush the aerial parts into tampons on hypertrophied lesions caused by malaria.
- The Kubeo Indians of Columbia use the crushed leaves over painful arthritic joints.
- Succulent leaves used as antiscorbutic.
- Kubeo Indians of Columbia use crushed leaves as a rub to reduce arthritic pains.
- In Asian ethnomedicine, used for skin and stomach problems and diarrhea.

• Of the ethnomedicinal plants used in Trinidad and Tobago, Peperomia obtusifolia was found possibly efficacious for stomach problems, pains and internal parasites. The paper evaluated 58 ethnomedicinal plants used in Trinidad and Tobago for skin problems, stomach problems and intestinal parasites. (5)
Phenolic Compounds:
A study isolated fire phenolic compounds with a methyl, isoprenyl and geranyl group on a benzene ring core. (2)
Air-Cleaning Plant: In a sealed chamber study of potted plants in carbon filters, Peperomia obtusifolia was shown to reduce formaldehyde by 47 percent. (3)
Trypanocidal: The trypanocidal activity of extracts from leaves and stems were evaluated in vitro against the epigmastigote forms of Trypanosoma cruzi. Study yielded seven known compounds including three chromanes, two furofuran lignans and two flavone C-diglycosides. The chromanes showed no toxicity at the level of IC50 for trypanocidal activity. (1)
Isoswertisin Flavones / Weak Antifungal Activity: Study of leaves and stems yielded a new flavone along with four known compounds. On bioautographic assay against Cladosporium cladosporioides and C. sphaerospermum, the flavones showed weak antifungal activity. (see constituents above) (8)

Can plants control indoor air pollution? Recent reports in the media and promotions by the decorative houseplant industry characterize plants as "nature's clean air machine", claiming that National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) research shows plants remove indoor air pollutants. While it is true that plants remove carbon dioxide from the air, and the ability of plants to remove certain other pollutants from water is the basis for some pollution control methods, the ability of plants to control indoor air pollution is less well established. Most research to date used small chambers without any air exchange which makes extrapolation to real world environments extremely uncertain. The only available study of the use of plants to control indoor air pollutants in an actual building could not determine any benefit from the use of plants69. As a practical means of pollution control, the plant removal mechanisms appear to be inconsequential compared to common ventilation and air exchange rates. In other words, the ability of plants to actually improve indoor air quality is limited in comparison with provision of adequate ventilation.
     While decorative foliage plants may be aesthetically pleasing, it should be noted that over damp planter soil conditions may actually promote growth of unhealthy microorganisms. (4)


Ornamental cultivation.

Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Last Updated October 2015

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
In vitro Trypanocidal Activity of Phenolic Derivatives from Peperomia obtusifolia / Jonas da Silva Mota et al / Planta Med 2009; 75(6): 620-623 / DOI: 10.1055/s-0029-118536
Phenolic compounds from Peperomia obtusifolia / Tanaka T et al / Phytochemistry, 1998, vol. 49, no1, pp. 229-232

Indoor Air Pollution: An Introduction for Health Professionals / Can plants control indoor air pollution? / Environmental Protection Agency
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas (Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana)
Comparison of plants used for skin and stomach problems in Trinidad and Tobago with Asian ethnomedicine
Peperomia obtusifolia (L.) A.Dietr. / Synonyms / The Plant List
Isoswertisin flavones and other constituents from Peperomia obtusifolia. / Jonas da S Mota, Ana C Leite, Massuo J Kato, Maria Claudia M Young, Vanderlan da S Bolzani, Maysa Furlan. / Nat Prod Res. 2011 Jan;25(1):1-7. doi: 10.1080/14786410903244954.

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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