The kapok bush (Aerva javanica (Burm. f.) Juss. ex Schult.) is a perennial semi-shrubby plant growing in tropical and subtropical dry areas. It is both erect and spreading, grows up to a height of 1.5 m high, and is covered with densely matted hairs on stems and leaves. Aerva javanica is much-branched, with vigorous round stems that are woody at the base, and a dark stout taproot. It has numerous leaves, ovate to lanceolate, 10-20 x 40-75 mm, alternate and white to grey. The flowers are small and whitish and arranged in dense, woolly terminal panicles (Bartha, 1970; Palmer et al., 2011).
Aerva javanica is used for grazing in dry rangelands (Burkill, 1985) and has been planted for forage in Australia, where it is regarded as a useful fodder (Queensland Government, 2011). In earlier times, the densely woolly parts of the inflorescence were used by Bedouins for stuffing saddle pads and cushions, hence the name "kapok bush" (Soliman, 2006). Aerva javanica has many uses in human and animal ethnomedicine. In Pakistan, it is used as a purgative, antidiarrheal and anthelmintic medicine in cattle (Khan, 2009; Qureshi et al., 2009). In India, boiled seeds are fed to animals suffering from foot and mouth disease (Mistry et al., 2003). In Ethiopia, roots are used to treat ophthalmic infection in goats (Giday et al., 2013). Aerva javanica contains secondary metabolites (flavonoids, alkaloids, tannins, sterols, etc.) that have been investigated in veterinary medicine (Khan et al., 1982; Chawla et al., 2012). In India, a paste made of green leaves, used for healing wounds and inflammation, was found to have antibacterial activity (Srinivas et al., 2012).