Hypericum japonicum (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

1, plant habit; 2, detail of stem; 3, leaf; 4, flower; 5, dehisced capsule; 6, ovary in cross-section (Achmad Satiri Nurhaman)

Hypericum japonicum Thunb. ex Murray

Protologue: Syst. veg. ed. 14: 702 (1784).


  • Hypericum pusillum Choisy (1821),
  • Hypericum mutilum Maxim. (1881) non L.,
  • Sarothra japonica (Thunb. ex Murray) Y. Kimura (1951).

Vernacular names

  • Papua New Guinea: ngotokong (Mt Hagen, Western Highlands)
  • Vietnam: n[ojc] sởi cỏ ban, diền cơ hoàng.


From Japan, South Korea and south-eastern China, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka to Australia, New-Zealand and Hawaii. H. japonicum occurs throughout Malesia, Indo-China and Thailand.


Generally, H. japonicum is thought to have astringent and alterative action, and it is used externally to treat swellings, abscesses, scrofula and fungal skin diseases. In Malaysia, it is applied externally to treat wounds. In Papua New Guinea, crushed plants are reported to be used internally against malaria, together with ginger and ash salt. In Vietnam, H. japonicum is used internally as stomachic and externally as vulnerary on wounds, leech and snake bites, and to treat caries and bad breath. In Chinese medicine, it is applied as vulnerary on wounds and leech bites, and to treat bacterial diseases, hepatitis and tumours.


  • An extremely variable annual herb, 2-50 cm tall, with erect to decumbent or prostrate stems rooting at the base.
  • Leaves usually ovate or ovate-triangular to oblong or elliptical, 2-18 mm × 1-10 mm, chartaceous, lower side sometimes glaucous, with 1-7 basal veins, usually without reticulate venation, laminar glands pale, sessile.
  • Inflorescence lax, 1-30-flowered.
  • Flowers 4-8 mm in diameter, sepals 2-5.5 mm × 0.5-2 mm, free, 3-5-veined, often with prominent midrib, laminar glands pale, petals 1.7-5 mm × 0.8-1.8 mm, persistent, pale yellow to orange, without glands, stamens 5-30, in 5 irregular groups, ovary 1-celled, placentas 2-3, parietal, styles divergent, broadening to capitate stigmas.
  • Fruit cylindrical to globose, 2-6 mm long.
  • Seeds minute, cylindrical, longitudinally ribbed with striae, not carinate.

H. japonicum is found in wet or marshy to dry localities, but always in exposed places, from sea-level up to 3400 m altitude.

Selected sources

  • [97] Backer, C.A. & Bakhuizen van den Brink Jr, R.C., 1963-1968. Flora of Java. 3 volumes. Noordhoff, Groningen, the Netherlands. Vol. 1 (1963) 647 pp., Vol. 2 (1965) 641 pp., Vol. 3 (1968) 761 pp.
  • [202] Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Revised reprint. 2 volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Vol. 1 (A-H) pp. 1-1240. Vol. 2 (I-Z) pp. 1241-2444.
  • [456] Gagnepain, F., 1920. Hypéricacées [Hypericaceae]. In: Lecomte (Editor): Flore générale de l'Indo-Chine. [General flora of Indo-China]. Vol. 1. Masson & Cie, Paris, France. pp. 284-287.
  • [597] Holdsworth, D.K., 1977. Medicinal plants of Papua New Guinea. Technical Paper No 175. South Pacific Commission, Noumea, New Caledonia. 123 pp.
  • [655] Ishiguro, K., Nagata, S., Fukumoto, H., Yamaki, M. & Isoi, K., 1994. Phloroglucinol derivatives from Hypericum japonicum. Phytochemistry 35(2): 469-471.
  • [656] Ishiguro, K., Yamaki, M., Kashihara, M. & Takagi, S., 1986. Sarothralen A and B, new antibiotic compounds from Hypericum japonicum. Planta Medica 52(4): 288-290.
  • [657] Ishiguro, K., Yamaki, M., Kashihara, M. & Takagi, S., 1987. Saroaspidin A, B and C: additional antibiotic compounds from Hypericum japonicum. Planta Medica 53(5): 415-417.
  • [658] Ishiguro, K., Yamaki, M., Kashihara, M., Takagi, S. & Isoi, K., 1990. Sarothralin G: a new antimicrobial compound from Hypericum japonicum. Planta Medica 56(3): 274-276.
  • [1035] Nguyen Van Duong, 1993. Medicinal plants of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Mekong Printing, Santa Ana, California, United States. 528 pp.
  • [1126] Perry, L.M., 1980. Medicinal plants of East and Southeast Asia. Attributed properties and uses. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States & London, United Kingdom. 620 pp.
  • [1128] Pételot, A., 1952-1954. Les plantes médicinales du Cambodge, du Laos et du Vietnam [The medicinal plants of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam]. 4 volumes. Centre National de Recherches Scientifiques et Techniques, Saigon, Vietnam.
  • [1238] Robson, N.K.B., 1974. Hypericum. In: van Steenis, C.G.G.J. (General editor): Flora Malesiana. Series 1, Vol. 8. Sijthoff & Noordhoff International Publishers, Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands. pp. 14-29.
  • [1239] Robson, N.K.B., 1977. Studies in the genus Hypericum L. (Guttiferae) I. Infrageneric classification. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History), Botany 5(6): 291-355.
  • [1240] Robson, N.K.B., 1980. Hypericum L. In: Townsend, C.C. & Guest, E.R. (Editors): Flora of Iraq. Vol. 4. Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, Bagdad, Iraq. pp. 363-381.
  • [1241] Robson, N.K.B., 1981. Studies in the genus Hypericum L. (Guttiferae). I. Characters of the genus. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History), Botany 8(2): 55-226.
  • [1242] Robson, N.K.B., 1990. Studies in the genus Hypericum L. (Guttiferae). 8. Sections 29. Brathys (part 2) and 30. Trigynobathys. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History), Botany 20(1): 1-151.
  • [1243] Robson, N.K.B., 1996. Guttiferae. In: Huang, T.-C. (Editor): Flora of Taiwan. 2nd Edition. Vol. 2. Editorial Committee of the Flora of Taiwan, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China. pp. 694-714.
  • [1476] Tran Dinh Ly, 1993. 1900 Loai cay co ich o Viet nam [1900 useful plant species in Vietnam]. Hanoi, Vietnam. 544 pp.
  • [1513] Vasanth, S., Gopal, R.H. & Rao, R.B., 1990. Plant anti-malarial agents. Journal of Scientific and Industrial Research 49(2): 68-77.
  • [1655] Zheng, M.S., 1989. An experimental study of the anti-HSV-II action of 500 herbal drugs. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 9(2): 113-116..

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