The kisi - kisi plant is scientifically named in Latin as Justicia gendarussa ‘Variegata’. Other names for Justicia gendarussa Variegata in Latin are Adhatoda subserrata and Gendarussa vulgaris. Popularly in English, this plant is known as variegated willow leaf shrimp plant, water willow or willow-leaved justicia.
In Indonesia, the willow-leaved justicia plant is also known as gandarusa, daun rusa or besi - besi. In India this plant is known as bakas, kala adulasa, kasanah or vaidyasinha. In China this plant is known as qin qiu and in Malaysia besides being known as gandarusa it is also known as temenggong melela or urat sugi.
The genus name 'Justicia' refers to James Justice, a Scottish horticulturist (1730-1763). Meanwhile, the origin of the name of the species 'gendarussa' is unclear, but it is likely taken from the local name of this species (NParks | Justicia Gendarussa “Variegata,” 2022).
The willow-leaved justicia plant is believed to have originated from China which then spread and was widely cultivated in Asia including Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Bangladesh (Chandra & Lo, 2021).
Description of Form, Growth and Habitat
wWillow-leaved justicia is a shrub that can grow to a height of up to 1.5 meters. This plant can grow quickly and upright thanks to its branched stems and lanceolate shape like the head of a spear.
The leaves grow oppositely in shades of green, white, and gray which produce small white flowers. It measures 7 to 14 cm long with a width of 1 to 2.5 cm and has a bald shape on both sides with sharp edges. The fruit is glabrous and has 4 seeds with a length of about 12 mm.
Generally, willow-leaved justicia plants like light, sandy, and well-drained soil with shade and moist sunlight. This plant is said to be free from pests and diseases and can be propagated through stem cuttings and seeds (NParks | Justicia Gendarussa “Variegata,” 2022).
Benefits of Willow-Leaved Justicia for Health
Apart from being generally used as an ornamental plant, local Indonesian residents often use the willow-leaved justicia plant in various traditional medicines. Several studies and research have succeeded in proving the antioxidant activity found in the plant through the content of flavonoid compounds found in the leaves (Chandra & Lo, 2021).
Other ingredients contained in this whole plant are alkaloids, phenolics, saponins, steroid-terpenoids, and ifflorin A. Apart from being proven to have antioxidant activity, the willow-leaved justicia plant has also been proven to have antibacterial and antifungal activity against certain pathogenic strains and has been used as a traditional contraceptive method in Indonesia.
The ifflorin A compound in the plant has also been proven to be used as an anti-HIV drug and was first used clinically in several cases of HIV disease (Accelerator, 2023). Meanwhile, based on research conducted by Agustinus Widodo et al. (2019) the willow-leaved justicia plant or Justicia gendarussa through its leaf extract shows that this plant has the potential to be developed as an anticancer. In China the willow-leaved justicia plant is also used as a raw material in traditional medicine to treat rheumatism (MOTOKURA et al., 2005).
However, you need to use the willow-leaved justicia plant as a herbal medicine with caution. A study conducted on mice showed that a decoction or alcoholic extract from the plant at a dose of 10 - 20g/kg has antipyretic and depressant properties which can cause severe diarrhea and ultimately death (MSU Herbal Garden, 2013). Rust disease was also found in willow-leaved justicia plants imported from Thailand in Japan in 2002 so that a quarantine process was necessary upon initial arrival (MOTOKURA et al., 2005).