Para Cress, Toothache Plant, Eyeball Plant 'Peek-A-Boo'

Acmella oleracea

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Acmella (ak-MEL-uh) (Info)
Species: oleracea (awl-lur-RAY-see-uh) (Info)
Cultivar: Peek-A-Boo
Synonym:Spilanthes oleracea



Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)


12-15 in. (30-38 cm)


USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:


Bright Yellow

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Blooms repeatedly

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Arley, Alabama

Phoenix, Arizona (2 reports)

Sun City, Arizona

Clayton, California

Santee, California

Delmar, Delaware

Meade, Kansas

Cumberland, Maryland

Joppa, Maryland

Reisterstown, Maryland

Mathiston, Mississippi

Saucier, Mississippi

Saint Louis, Missouri

Roselle, New Jersey

Staten Island, New York

Winston Salem, North Carolina

Cincinnati, Ohio

Enid, Oklahoma

Florence, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Klingerstown, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Conway, South Carolina

Summerville, South Carolina

Frisco, Texas

Houston, Texas (2 reports)

Magnolia, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Stephenville, Texas

Victoria, Texas

Seattle, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Oct 28, 2011, MAB123 from Reisterstown,
United States wrote:

This plant is an absolute blessing when you are wearing braces! I have only had them on for a couple of weeks and without the leaves and flowers I would be miserable. I use the flowers on the sides of my mouth at night to keep the braces from hurting me so wax isn't on them constantly. The leaves sit next to them during the day.

I have frozen them so I will have them this winter and they are just as effective.



On Sep 6, 2008, slatwood from Sun City, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

Spilanthes needs at least filtered shade in PM in Phoenix area. It self-seeds readily, and foliage rebounds wonderfully even if allowed to dry out. The reference to it as a "culinary herb" truly surprised me. Apparently, cooking heat inactivates the enzyme which gives the plant its common name - Toothache Plant: chewing the leaves will deaden your entire mouth - teeth, tongue, gums, lips. If overdone, it can pose problems swallowing.

But as a Sun City plant, it's perfect: it is absolutely Rabbit-Proof!


On Mar 31, 2005, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

The eyeball plant I had last summer was in a container where it received filtered shade from an oak tree. Its seeds fell in 2 containers and surprised me by sprouting in them while they were in my greenhouse. I didn't know what the 2 plants were until the blooms appeared in March. I will sprinkle the seeds as they ripen in different areas of my yard and hope that they will germinate. All of my visitors love the unusual blooms.


On Dec 1, 2004, Valiche from Roselle, NJ (Zone 6b) wrote:

This was a cute plant. I didn't think it would grow as large as it did but what a nice suprise. Some of the seed heads fell into the soil. We'll see how good it is at self sowing for next season.


On Aug 14, 2004, WillowWasp from Jones Creek, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is my first year to grow this plant and I love it. It is a very bright and cheery bloom. It also keeps quite sometime as a cut flower. I will plant it again next year but alot more of it.


On Aug 14, 2004, patp from Summerville, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

This is a fun plant to own. When I gave one to an ill friend and said I was going to keep 'my eye' on him to cheer him up, he chuckled. When the plant needs water, it looks like boiled spinach but perks up after watering. It's very easy to start new plants - just squeeze the eyeball over soil and bunches of new plants will grow.


On Aug 30, 2003, Happenstance from Northern California, CA wrote:

Good border plant, needs afternoon shade in 9b, native to Brazil where it is a culinary herb (leaves & flowerheads).
Adds spots of color to a shaded location.