Toothache Plant Acmella oleracea

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
Pará cress


Commonly known as the toothache plant, with broad, oval leaves that are mostly dark green, often with a hint of purple. The leaves are slightly jagged on the edges and can have a ruffled appearance. The most striking feature of the plant is its flowers, which are actually clusters of small, yellow florets surrounded by a distinctive, eye-catching red, cone-shaped structure. This red part contributes to the name toothache plant as it looks like an inflamed gum. The flowers are small but prominent due to their coloration. The stems are relatively thick and can have fine hairs on them, with a solid green hue sometimes tinged with purple lines or spots. Overall, the toothache plant has a somewhat bushy, spreading appearance with a vibrant contrast between the dark green leaves and the radiant red and yellow of its flowers.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Toothache Plant, Paracress, Sichuan Button, Buzz Buttons, Tingflowers, Electric Daisy, Eyeball Plant.

    • Common names

      Spilanthes acmella, Spilanthes oleracea, Spilanthes radicans, Acmella radicans, Acmella uliginosa, Spilanthes paniculata, Spilanthes alba, Acmella paniculata, Acmella repens, Acmella alba, Spilanthes urens, Acmella decumbens, Acmella radicans var. debilis, Acmella radicans var. genuina, Acmella radicans var. uliginosa, Spilanthes fusca, Spilanthes fusca var. genuina, Spilanthes acmella var. oleracea, Spilanthes radicans var. oleracea.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      The plant Acmella oleracea, commonly known as toothache plant, is not considered toxic to humans. In fact, it is often used for culinary and medicinal purposes. The leaves and flower buds have a pungent taste and can cause a numbing or tingling sensation in the mouth when consumed, which is why it's called the toothache plant. However, in large quantities or under certain conditions, it may cause adverse reactions for some individuals, such as stomach upset or allergic reactions. It's always wise to consult with a healthcare provider if you're considering using it for its medicinal properties.

    • To pets

      Acmella oleracea, also known as toothache plant, is not listed as a toxic plant to pets such as dogs and cats. There may be a risk of mild digestive upset if a pet ingests a large amount of the plant, similar to what might occur if pets eat an unusual food or plant material. However, there are no specific symptoms of poisoning associated with the toothache plant in pets. It is always important to monitor your pets for any unusual behavior or signs of distress after consuming any plant material. If you observe any concerning symptoms, you should contact a veterinarian.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      1 foot (30 cm)

    • Spread

      1 foot (30 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Edible Plant: Commonly known as toothache plant, its leaves and flower buds are edible and known for their spicy flavor, often used in salads and as a flavoring agent.
    • Culinary Uses: The plant's unique tingling and numbing sensation add a distinctive experience to culinary dishes and can be used as a spice or garnish.
    • Decorative: With its bright yellow flowers and dark green leaves, it can add aesthetic value to gardens and serve as an ornamental plant.
    • Pollinator Attraction: Toothache plant is known to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, enhancing pollination in the garden.
    • Traditional Uses: In various cultures, it has been used traditionally for seasoning food, in festivals, and as a part of rituals, contributing to cultural practices.
    • Easy to Grow: It is a hardy plant that is relatively easy to grow, requiring minimal maintenance, and can be grown in a variety of climates and soil types.
    • Companion Planting: It can be used in companion planting to deter pests away from other plants without the use of chemicals.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Analgesic: Traditionally used for toothaches and mouth sores due to its numbing effect.
    • Anti-inflammatory: Contains compounds that may reduce inflammation, making it potentially beneficial for treating conditions like arthritis.
    • Antibacterial: Exhibits antibacterial activities which can help fend off or treat infections.
    • Antiparasitic: Used in traditional medicine for controlling parasitic infections.
    • Diuretic: Sometimes used to stimulate urine production and relieve fluid retention.
    • Antifungal: Has potential antifungal properties that could be useful against certain types of fungal infections.
    • Antioxidant: Contains compounds that may have antioxidant properties, possibly helping to protect cells from damage by free radicals.
    • Sialagogue: Can stimulate saliva production, which can aid in digestion and oral health.
    • Local anesthetic: Shown to have a local anesthetic effect which might be put to use in minor surgeries or other medical procedures requiring local anesthesia.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Acmella oleracea, commonly known as toothache plant, can be used as a natural insecticide, where its extracts may deter or kill certain pests due to its bioactive compounds.

    • The leaves and flowers of the toothache plant are edible and have a unique, peppery taste, making them a flavorful addition to salads and garnishes.

    • As a natural preservative, the extracts from this plant have potential for extending the shelf life of certain food products due to their antimicrobial properties.

    • In culinary practices, the flower buds of the toothache plant are sometimes used to infuse oils and vinegars with a spicy kick.

    • The plant can serve as a companion plant in gardens, potentially keeping harmful pests away from more vulnerable crops with its strong aroma.

    • It has been used in traditional fabric dyeing processes, where different parts of the plant can produce varying shades of color.

    • Due to its strong, distinctive flavor, toothache plant can be used to create botanical infusions in spirits such as vodka or gin for uniquely flavored cocktails.

    • In culinary experimentation, its numbing effect on the mouth has been utilized in creating adventurous, sensory-altering dining experiences.

    • As a natural food colorant, the vibrant hues of Acmella oleracea can be extracted to add colors to desserts and confections without synthetic dyes.

    • The plant is sometimes incorporated into ornamental gardens, not just for its health-related benefits but also for its aesthetic appeal with bright yellow and red flower heads.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The toothache plant is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The toothache plant is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Youthfulness and restoration: Acmella oleracea, also known as toothache plant, is associated with youthfulness and restoration due to its properties that promote oral health and its ability to numb pain in the mouth.
    • Healing: The plant is symbolic of healing, reflecting its traditional use in medicinal remedies for treating various ailments, especially those related to toothaches and throat infections.
    • Curiosity: The toothache plant's unique appearance, with its distinctive flower bud that looks like a fleshy eyeball, symbolizes curiosity and the attraction to novel and unusual experiences.
    • Boldness: The tingling sensation caused by its leaves and flowers when chewed is symbolic of boldness and the courage to face challenges, somewhat akin to the 'bite' of its strong flavors.
    • Protection: Symbolic of protection due to its potent properties that defend against oral infections and promote immunity, making it a guardian in herbal medicine traditions.

Every 2-3 days
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every year
Spring-Early Summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    For the toothache plant (Acmella oleracea), it is best to maintain moist soil without letting it become waterlogged, which typically means watering once or twice a week, depending on climate conditions. During hot and dry periods, you might need to water every other day, ensuring that you provide enough water to moisten the soil to a depth of about one inch. It’s crucial to reduce the frequency to perhaps once a week during cooler or rainy periods. Use a watering can or hose to gently water the soil directly around the base of the plant, avoiding wetting the foliage, with about 16-32 ounces of water per plant, each time, ensuring even distribution and absorption.

  • sunLight

    The toothache plant flourishes in full sun to partial shade conditions. It performs best when it receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. An ideal spot for this plant is in a garden bed that receives morning sun and some afternoon shade, especially in hot climates, to prevent scorching.

  • thermometerTemperature

    The toothache plant prefers a temperate range of 70°F to 80°F but can survive in temperatures as low as 50°F and as high as 90°F for short periods. Frost can severely damage or kill the plant, so ensure it is not exposed to temperatures below 50°F. Ideal cultivation involves keeping it within its temperature comfort zone and providing some shade during the hottest part of the day to prevent overheating.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning the toothache plant encourages bushier growth and more flower production. Snip off the tips of the stems and deadhead spent flowers regularly to promote continual blooming. The best time for pruning is in the late winter or early spring before the new growth starts, but light pruning and deadheading can be done throughout the growing season as needed.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Toothache Plant, Acmella oleracea, prefers well-draining soil with a rich organic content and a slightly acidic to neutral pH of 6.0 to 7.0. A good mix could be equal parts potting soil, peat, and perlite.

  • plantRepotting

    Toothache Plants should be repotted annually or when they outgrow their pots, typically in early spring just before the growth season.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Toothache Plants thrive with moderate humidity levels, around 50-60% is ideal for healthy growth.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Provide bright light and keep soil moist for indoor Toothache Plant growth.

    • Outdoor

      In a sunny spot, plant in well-draining soil; water regularly.

    • Hardiness zone

      9-11 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Toothache plant (Acmella oleracea) begins its life cycle with seed germination, which typically requires warm soil and occurs relatively quickly after sowing. Seedlings emerge and the plant enters a vegetative growth stage, forming a rosette of leaves near the ground. As the plant matures, it develops a branching stem and more foliage, growing rapidly in favorable conditions. The toothache plant then produces distinctive yellow and red flower heads; these flowers are actually composite inflorescences containing numerous tiny florets, and they attract pollinators which are essential for the plant's reproduction. Following pollination, the plant sets seed, which can be collected and sowed for the next generation or allowed to self-sow. Eventually, the mature plant completes its life cycle, senesces, and dies, usually after setting seed to ensure the survival of the species.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • Propogation: The most popular method for propagating Spilanthes, commonly known as the toothache plant or buzz buttons, is through seed sowing. For successful germination, Spilanthes seeds should be started indoors six to eight weeks before the last expected frost. Sow the seeds shallowly, at about 1/4 inch (6 mm) deep, in a well-draining soil mix. The soil should be kept moist but not waterlogged, and the seeds require warm temperatures of around 70-75°F (21-24°C) to germinate effectively. Providing ample light either by a sunny window or under grow lights will support the seedlings once they emerge. After the risk of frost has passed and the seedlings have grown strong enough, they can be transplanted to their final outdoor location, ensuring they are spaced about 12 inches (30 cm) apart to allow for their full growth potential.