Sida acuta | ‘Bala’, ‘Common Wireweed’, ‘Jangli-methi’ | 25 seeds
Sida acuta (syn. Sida carpinifolia) is a flowering perennial of the mallow (Malvaceae) family, thought to originate from somewhere in Central America. It’s now naturalised to much of East Asia, including parts of Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam too.
The species is a popular one – presumably due to its usefulness as a medicinal plant and source of fibre – and so there are many informal names for it. These include: ‘Bala’, ‘Berela’, ‘Chikana’, ‘Common Fanpetals’, ‘Common Wireweed’, ‘Gasbevila’, ‘Ìsékètu’, ‘Jangli-methi’, ‘Jangli menthi’, ‘Kareta’, ‘Katsayna’, ‘Kharenti’, ‘Kureta’, ‘Malaidangi’, ‘Malatanni’, ‘Nelabenda’, ‘Siobala’ and ‘Vishakaddi’.
Widespread to USDA Hardiness Zones 8-11, acuta grows in the form of a small, erect shrub, which reaches a maximum height of roughly two metres or so. Multi-branched from the (woody) main stem, green to dark green, slightly-serrated leaves sprout forth alongside small, delicate yellow flowers (attractive to bees, birds and other insects). It’s often found growing alongside roads and footpaths and inhabiting wasteland. Considered to be an invasive species in several territories (such as Australia),
‘Bala’ has been used in various traditional medicinal practices for many years, for example, to treat abscesses, dysentery, fevers, headaches, indigestion, ulcers and wounds. It’s also used as an anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, digestive remedy and diuretic. It’s also a good source of useful fibre (used to make canvas, fishing nets and rope) leaves (used to make hair-conditioners and shampoo) and wood (the stems are often used to make broom handles).
Acuta can be cultivated following roughly the same procedure as with related species, such as Sida cordifolia. Grow plants in full sun to partial shade, spacing them a minimum of thirty to thirty-five centimetres apart. Water as the soil starts to become dry.
All the seed sold by Arkham’s Botanical was freshly and ethically sourced