Cosmos Caudatus

Ulam Raja

Scientific Name: Cosmos Causdatus

Bahasa Indonesian: Kenikir

Batak: Kenikir

Basic Information: 

Cosmos caudatus is an annual plant species of the genus Cosmos. It is originating from Latin America and later grown in Southeast Asia. The leaves and shoots of cosmos caudatus can be consumed raw. The unique taste makes it a flavorful, favored side dish.

The species grows up to 2.5m in height. The leaves are soft and pungent while the stem is light green with a purplish hue and succulent. During the night the leaves fold to close the terminal buds as the plant sleeps. Its flowers can be purple or pink.


Health Benefits:

  • The cosmos caudatus contains large amounts of anti-oxidants. Good for several processes in the body. Also it is suggested that it has anti-cancer effects.
  • Eating the plant creates anti-diabetic activity in the body, reducing the plasma blood glucose levels.
  • It also may have anti-hypertensive effects when consumed. Inducing a diuretic effect, which leads to a decrease in blood pressure.
  • An other health benefit of the cosmos caudatus are its anti-inflammatory effects when consumed.
  • The intake of cosmos caudatus in combination with calcium may be beneficial to bone health, for example in postmenopausal osteoporosis.
  • Anti-microbial and anti-fungal activities where found with the intake of cosmos caudatus extracts

Epidemiological studies have shown that an increased intake of vegetables rich in phenolic compounds is associated with a decreased risk of several chronic diseases, such as diabetes,[] heart disease,[] and cancer.[] C. caudatus has been reported to have exceptionally high anti-oxidant capacity, mainly due to its polyphenol content.[] Polyphenol-rich foods are potent anti-oxidants,[] which protect cells against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic disease.[] The anti-oxidant properties of C. caudatus play a crucial role in promoting significant health benefits and potentially reduce the harmful effect of oxidative stress.

C. caudatus has been shown to have hypoglycemic activity. One way to assess glycemic control is through postprandial glucose. Postprandial hyperglycemia is strongly associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in type 2 diabetic patients.[,] Postprandial hyperglycemia can be decreased by delaying the carbohydrate absorption in the gastrointestinal tract.[] This can be achieved by inhibiting carbohydrate-hydrolyzing enzymes, which are pancreatic alpha-amylase, and slowing glucose uptake by intestinal alpha-glucosidase. C. caudatus has high alpha-glucosidase activity. Therefore, C. caudatus may potentially be useful for treating postprandial hyperglycemia in vitro.

The leaves of C. caudatus have been used in eastern Indonesia to lower blood pressure.[] Lowered blood pressure is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular events. Blood pressure can only be reduced by decreasing the cardiac output or the total peripheral vascular resistance.[] Stroke volume and heart rate are two integral components of cardiac output.[] By decreasing the cardiac output, mean blood pressure is suppressed. The result suggests that C. caudatus has the potential for reducing the cardiac output. Besides cardiac function, C. caudatus also exhibited diuretic properties, which help to reduce blood pressure.[] Diuretics work by increasing the urinary sodium excretion, reducing the plasma volume and cardiac output, and subsequently lowering the blood pressure.[] ACE is a key enzyme in the renin-angiotensin system, which plays an integral role in regulating blood pressure and maintaining cardiovascular function.[] ACE triggers the conversion of angiotensin I to angiotensin II, which is a vasoconstrictor, and subsequently increases the blood pressure.[] Therefore, an inhibition of ACE is considered an effective approach to treating hypertension.[] C. caudatus can moderately inhibit ACE in vitro.

Inflammation is one of the risk factors in developing atherosclerosis. Carrageenan-induced paw edema is a classical model to evaluate the efficacy of acute inflammation. It is widely used in the development of anti-inflammatory drugs.[,] The anti-inflammatory effect of C. caudatus was observed against a carrageenan-induced paw edema in a mouse model. It was reported that the anti-inflammatory effect of C. caudatus is probably due to the inhibition of prostaglandin systhesis. Therefore, C. caudatus may be potentially used as an alternative anti-inflammatory agent.

C. caudatus is believed to exhibit a bone-protective effect and triggers bone formation.[] Estrogen is the primary hormone to preserve bone mass and estrogen deficiency is the main risk factor in developing osteoporosis.[] Estrogen is a phenolic compound that has anti-oxidant properties to protect against reactive oxygen species (ROS).[] In the postmenopausal state, estrogen deficiency lowers the anti-oxidant defense, which causes ROS to stimulate osteoclasts.[] This scenario results in bone resorption and subsequently leads to bone loss.[] As free radicals are involved in bone metabolism, C. caudatus, which exerts high anti-oxidant properties, has a positive effect on bone health.

C. caudatus was also found to have anti-microbial and anti-fungal activities.[,] The results indicated that both polar and nonpolar C. caudatus extracts possessed high anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. Although C. caudatus extracts showed promising results in vitro, there has been no in vivo study to confirm anti-microbial and anti-fungal activities. Therefore, further studies, especially in vivo studies, should be conducted to examine the anti-microbial effectiveness of C. caudatus.

Considering the potential uses of C. caudatus as nutraceutical applications, it is important to determine whether there is any toxicological effect. C. caudatus was considered safe on acute oral toxicity and subacute toxicology testing. Although there is no evidence of toxicity from the acute and subacute toxicity studies, further investigation should be made to ascertain the lack of chronic toxicity and the safety of C. caudatus leaf intake in humans.


Fun Facts:

  • 100 gram cosmos caudatus contains 2400 mg of Vitamin C (L-Ascorbinacid- Equivalent)
  • In Malaysia it is called ulam raja “the king’s salad”.

Also we make tea from the Cosmos Caudatus. You can buy the tea also online in our shop.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to grow cosmos caudatus:

1. Choose a Planting Location:

Cosmos caudatus thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. If your garden has poor drainage, consider amending the soil with organic matter like compost or aged manure to improve its texture and water-holding capacity.

2. Sow Seeds:

Cosmos caudatus can be grown directly in the garden or started indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost. To direct sow, wait until the soil temperature has warmed to at least 65°F (18°C). Sprinkle the seeds thinly over the prepared soil, cover them with a thin layer of soil, and water gently. To start seeds indoors, fill seed trays with a seed-starting mix and sow the seeds 1/4 inch deep. Keep the trays moist and warm, and transplant the seedlings outdoors after the last frost.

3. Thinning and Spacing:

Once the seedlings have emerged and have two sets of true leaves, thin them to provide adequate spacing for growth. For cosmos caudatus, space the plants 12-24 inches apart.

4. Watering and Mulching:

Cosmos caudatus prefers moist but not soggy soil. Water regularly, especially during hot, dry periods. Mulching around the plants with organic material like shredded leaves or straw will help to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.

5. Fertilizing:

Cosmos caudatus is not heavy feeder, but it will benefit from occasional fertilization. Apply a balanced fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season.

6. Deadheading and Pruning:

Deadheading spent flowers will encourage continued blooming throughout the season. To promote bushier growth, pinch off the tips of the stems when the plants are young.

7. Pest and Disease Control:

Cosmos caudatus is relatively resistant to pests and diseases, but it can be susceptible to aphids, spider mites, and fungal diseases. If you notice any pests or diseases, treat them promptly with organic or least-toxic methods.

8. Harvesting:

Cosmos caudatus blooms from mid-summer to early fall. Harvest flowers when they are fully open and have a vibrant color. Cut the stems just above a set of leaves.

With its ease of care, long blooming season, and attractive flowers, cosmos caudatus is a wonderful addition to any garden. Follow these simple growing tips and enjoy the beauty of these charming blossoms.