Alternanthera littoralis

Alternanthera littoralis P. Beauv.

Common Names: Beach Alternanthera, Alternanthera maritima

Family: Amaranthaceae

Former Name: Alternanthera maritima

Habit: Alternanthera littoralis grows as a low glabrous succulent sending out branches so as to form large mats. Stems are squarish/ridged. The leaves are arranged oppositely, subsessile, fleshy, ovate, to 6 cm. with an entire margin and obtuse to mucronate leaf apex.

The complete, perfect, sessile, actinomorphic flowers are arranged in terminal and axillary spikes.  Flowers subtended by yellowish bracts. The calyx has 5 unfused sepals.  The corolla has 2 unfused petals.   There are 5 stamens and 5 staminodia fused at the base.  The superior ovary has a single locule and seed.  The fruit is an achene at maturity.

Habitat: Alternanthera littoralis grows in Dunes, Sand Flats, fields and rock ledges near the ocean.

Distribution in Bahamas/Globally: Alternanthera littoralis occurs throughout the island groupings within the Bahamian Archipelago, the Caribbean, Florida, South America and West Africa.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Alternanthera littoralis is not known to be used medicinally in the Bahamian Archipelago.

The leaves are edible and used as a food source in West Africa.