Chloranthus spicatus (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Chloranthus spicatus (Thunb.) Makino

Family: Chloranthaceae


  • Chloranthus inconspicuus Swartz,
  • C. obtusifolius Miquel,
  • C. indicus Wight,
  • Nigrina spicata Thunb.

Vernacular names

  • Chulan, charan (En)
  • Indonesia: barlen (Sundanese)
  • Thailand: niam om (northern), foi faa (Bangkok), raam (Pattani), tanmuai (Chiang Mai)
  • Vietnam: cây hoa sói, hoa sói.


Native to China, but widely cultivated in eastern Asia, e.g. in southern China, Vietnam, Japan, in Malesia in Java and Sumatra.


C. spicatus is cultivated for its aromatic leaves and flowers which are used to make a tea-like drink or are mixed with tea during drying to increase its fragrance. After drying, they are removed.

In Indo-China an infusion is prepared from flowers and leaves and administered to treat cough. In China the bruised root is recommended as a poultice on carbuncles and boils. It is diaphoretic and excitant, reputed to cure malaria, but poisonous in overdose.

An absolute can be produced from a concrete of the flowers extracted by benzene or petroleum ether. The absolute is a yellow to dark amber coloured viscous liquid with a delightfully soft, woody-floral odour, which is valuable for the perfume industry.


  • Small, sympodially branched, glabrous shrub, up to 1.5 m tall; branches ascending to spreading, with swollen nodes.
  • Leaves opposite, decussate, fragrant; petiole 0.4-1.2 cm long; stipules linear, 2-3 mm long; blade ovate to elliptical, 4-13.5 cm × 2-8.5 cm, base cuneate, margin coarsely crenate-serrate, apex rather obtuse.
  • Inflorescence a terminal panicle, with 10-20 ascending spiciform branches 2-5 cm long; peduncle 3-8 cm long; bracts and bracteoles 1-1.5 mm long.
  • Flowers bisexual, naked; stamens 3, connate into a 3-lobed fleshy body enveloping the ovary; ovary with subsessile stigma.
  • Fruit a fleshy drupe, 4 mm × 2 mm, narrowed at base, greenish-yellowish. Seed 1, subglobose.

In Malesia C. spicatus is cultivated at 700-900 m altitude; flowers have been observed throughout the year. The nematode Aphelenchoides fragariae causes a leaf-spot disease and has been located in top buds where it occurs throughout the year. Analysis of the volatiles of the flowers yielded 11 monoterpenes, 11 sesquiterpenes and 7 oxygen-containing compounds. Major constituents are cis-methyl jasmonate, cis-β-ocimene and β-pinene. The essential oil blends well with many other oils and is commercially promising. The wood contains guaiacyl lignin, normally found only in gymnospermous wood.

Selected sources

  • Arctander, S., 1960. Perfume and flavor materials of natural origin. Published by the author, Elizabeth, New Jersey, United States. 736 pp.
  • Backer, C.A. & Bakhuizen van den Brink Jr, R.C., 1963-1968. Flora of Java. 3 volumes. Wolters-Noordhoff, Groningen, the Netherlands. Vol.1 (1963) 647 pp., Vol.2 (1965) 641 pp., Vol. 3 (1968) 761 pp.
  • Burkill, I.H., 1935. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. 2 volumes. Crown Agents for the Colonies, London, United Kingdom. 2402 pp. (slightly revised reprint, 1966. 2 volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 2444 pp.).
  • Heyne, K., 1927. De nuttige planten van Nederlandsch Indië [The useful plants of the Dutch East Indies]. 2nd edition. 3 volumes. Departement van Landbouw, Nijverheid en Handel in Nederlandsch Indië. 1953 pp. (3rd edition, 1950. W. van Hoeve, 's-Gravenhage/Bandung, the Netherlands/Indonesia. 1660 pp.).
  • van Steenis, C.G.G.J. et al. (Editors), 1950- . Flora Malesiana. Series 1. Vol. 1, 4- . Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, the Netherlands.

(essential oils)

+ 15, 16, 26, 30, 49, 50, 57, 59, 72, 77. stimulants


  • P.C.M. Jansen
  • M.S.M. Sosef