Murraya paniculata (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
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Murraya paniculata (L.) Jack

distribution in Africa (planted)
Protologue: Malayan Misc. 1: 31 (1820).
Family: Rutaceae
Chromosome number: 2n = 18


  • Murraya exotica L. (1771),
  • Murraya paniculata (L.) Jack var. exotica (L.) C.C.Huang (1959).

Vernacular names

  • Jasmine-orange, satinwood, Chinese box, cosmetic-bark tree (En).
  • Buis de Chine, bois jasmin, oranger jasmin, bois de satin (Fr).
  • Jasmim laranja (Po).

Origin and geographic distribution

Murraya paniculata is native of continental tropical Asia, and is nowadays cultivated in most of South-East Asia, Australia and the tropics of the New World. In tropical Africa it is cultivated in Benin, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa, as well as most of the Indian Ocean Islands.


In Nigeria leaf and bark decoctions are taken to treat malaria, diabetes, dysentery and fractured bones. In Mauritius a leaf infusion is taken to treat diabetes. The maceration of leaves in alcohol is applied to treat muscle-ache.

In Asia the leaves, fruits and bark are used medicinally against fever, venereal diseases, intestinal worms and dysentery; the leaves are also reported as an ingredient in an infusion against irregular menstruation and leucorrhoea, and to promote delivery.

The aromatic flowers are used for scenting tea or in the production of cosmetics. From the wood tool handles, walking sticks and furniture is made. Ripe fruits are eaten raw and have a sweet taste.

It is commonly planted in the Indian Ocean Islands as an ornamental shrub, or as a hedge. In Asia it is also grown as a living fence.


Several analyses of the leaf and flower essential oil of Murraya paniculata from different provenances yielded different compounds. Flowers of Indian provenance yield an essential oil with as major components δ-elemene (1.4%), caryophyllene (3.6%), germacrene-D (2.7%), nerolidol (25.7%), benzyl benzoate (8.1%), phenyl ethyl benzoate (8.0%) and manool (18.7%). The essential oils from the leaves and fruits of plants grown in Nigeria yielded mainly sesquiterpenoids. The principal constituents of the leaf oil were β-cyclocitral (22.9%), methyl salicylate (22.4%), trans-nerolidol (11.7%), α-cubebene (7.9%), cubenol (6.8%), β-cubebene (5.8%) and isogermacrene (5.7%). The most abundant constituent of the fruit essential oil was β-caryophyllene (43.4%). Other major components were zingiberene (18.9%), germacrene D (8.3%), α-copaene (5.5%) and α-humulene (5.1%). The compositions of both oils varied qualitatively and quantitatively. The leaf oil of plants from Bangladesh contained 58 compounds of which the major were caryophyllene oxide (16.6%), β-caryophyllene (11.8%), spathulenol (10.2%), β-elemene (8.9%), germacrene D (6.9%) and 4-methylene-6-(1-propenylidene)cyclooctene (6.4%).

From the leaves several coumarins, including minumicrolin and meranzine hydrate, have been isolated. The root bark also yielded several coumarins. Dioxin and dioxin-like polychlorbiphenyls as well as oxygenated flavonoids were found in the leaves. Isoflavonoids and a water soluble gum polysaccharide were isolated from the fruits. From the root bark several alkaloids have been isolated, including the indole alkaloid murrayacarine, the indole-naphthoquinone alkaloid murrapanine and the bisindole alkaloid yuehchukene. From the flowers the indole alkaloid murrayaculatine has been isolated, as well as some flavonoids.

A leaf extract was found to produce a profound antinociceptive activity in rats in a dose dependent manner. The extract showed considerable brine shrimp toxicity (LD50=32 μg/ml). Leaf extracts also showed significant toxic effects on the seed storage weevil Callosobruchus maculatus. An ethanol extract of the leaves was found to have analgesic and cytotoxic activities. A chloroform extract of the leaves showed moderate anti-amoebic and antibacterial activity in vitro. Meranzine hydrate exhibited weak activity against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli in vitro. Minumicrolin was found to possess mild butyrylcholinesterase inhibition activity in vitro. Yuehchukene showed anti-implantation activity in rats.

Murraya paniculata yields a heavy hardwood with a density of 1020–1120 kg/m³ at 15% moisture content. Heartwood greyish-brown or dark yellow with dark olive or black shades, sharply demarcated from the pale yellow or buff-coloured up to 4 cm wide sapwood; grain straight, but curly or wavy at base of trunk; texture very fine and even; wood lustrous. The wood seasons slowly and is inclined to check in the log and to split; it is reported from India to be a very refractory timber to season. The wood is hard to very hard and very strong. It is fairly easy to work and can be cut smoothly, although it is not easy to work with hand tools. The wood is durable to very durable. The heartwood is resistant to dry-wood termites. The sapwood is non-susceptible to Lyctus.


Evergreen shrub or small tree up to 3.5(–7) m tall, bark pale grey. Leaves arranged spirally, imparipinnate with 3–7 leaflets, glabrous; stipules absent; leaflets alternate, ovate to elliptical, 1.5–5(–9) cm × 1.5–2.5(–6) cm, glandular dotted, base rounded, apex acuminate to rounded, margin wavy. Inflorescence a terminal or axillary branched cyme, few-flowered. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, aromatic, white; pedicel short; sepals ovate to lanceolate, 2–3 mm long, slightly hairy, persistent in fruit; petals oblong to lanceolate, 1–1.5(–2) cm long, glandular, sparsely short-hairy; stamens 10, ovary superior, stigma lobed. Fruit a narrowly ellipsoid berry, 7–13(–20) mm × 6–8(–15) mm, deep orange to red, beaked, 1- or 2-seeded. Seeds short-hairy.

Other botanical information

Murraya comprises about 15 species which are distributed from continental Asia throughout the Malaysian region to north-eastern Australia and New Caledonia. Several species are cultivated throughout the tropics.


In its natural habitat Murraya paniculata occurs in open forest, from sea-level up to 1300 m altitude. It has a wide range of soil tolerance and may grow in alkaline, clayey, sandy, acidic and loamy soils. It flowers throughout the year and is a strict cross-pollinator. It has a high tolerance for shading.


Murraya paniculata is mainly propagated by seed, although it can also be propagated through softwood cuttings. Seeds are easy to germinate but should be sown immediately after harvesting, as their viability is strongly reduced after being stored for 3 weeks. They can be sown in the shade, without pretreatment. The germination rate ranges from 40–45% in 4–7 days to c. 75% in 13–20 days. The average 1000 seed weight is 83.33 g.

Murraya paniculata is vulnerable to nematodes, scales and whitefly. It is also a host of the Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri, which is the vector for the citrus greening disease.

Genetic resources

As Murraya paniculata is widely cultivated and easily grown from seeds, it is unlikely that is threatened by genetic erosion.


The essential oil from Murraya koenigii show interesting pharmacological activities, and more research is needed to evaluate its potential.

Major references

  • Adjanohoun, E.J., Aké Assi, L., Eymé, J., Gassita, J.N., Goudoté, E., Guého, J., Ip, F.S.L., Jackaria, D., Kalachand, S.K.K., Keita, A., Koudogbo, B., Landreau, D., Owadally, A.W. & Soopramanien, A., 1983. Médecine traditionelle et pharmacopée - Contribution aux études ethnobotaniques et floristiques à Maurice (Iles Maurice et Rodrigues). Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 216 pp.
  • Chowdhury, J.U., Bhuiyan, M.N.I. & Mohammed, Y., 2008. Chemical composition of the leaf essential oils of Murraya koenigii (L.) Spreng and Murraya paniculata (L.) Jack. Bangladesh Journal of Pharmacology 3(2): 59–63.
  • Gurib-Fakim, A., Guého, J. & Bissoondoyal, M.D., 1997. Plantes médicinales de Maurice, tome 3. Editions de l’Océan Indien, Rose-Hill, Mauritius. 471 pp.
  • Ha Van Tue, 1998. Murraya J. König ex L. In: Sosef, M.S.M., Hong, L.T. & Prawirohatmodjo, S. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 5(3). Timber trees: Lesser-known timbers. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 389–391.
  • Olawore, N.O., Ogunwande, I.A., Ekundayo, O. & Adeleke, K.A., 2005. Chemical composition of the leaf and fruit essential oils of Murraya paniculata (L.) Jack. (Syn. Murraya exotica Linn.). Flavour & Fragrance Journal. 20(1): 54–56.

Other references

  • Kong, Y.C., Ng, K.H., Wat, K.H., Wong, A., Saxena, I.F., Cheng, K.F., But, P.P. & Chang, H.T., 1985. Yuehchukene, a novel anti-implantation indole alkaloid from Murraya paniculata. Planta Medica 51: 304–307.
  • Lapcik, O., Klejdus, B., Davidová, M., Kokoska, L., Kubán, V. & Moravcová, J., 2004. Isoflavonoids in the Rutaceae family: 1. Fortunella obovata, Murraya paniculata and four Citrus species. Phytochemical Analysis 15: 293–239.
  • Mesquita, S.G., Martinez, M.F., Romoff, P., Favero, O.A., Lieber, S.R. & Lago, J.H.G., 2008. Chemical constituents from leaves of Murraya paniculata (Rutaceae). Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia 18(4): 563–568.
  • Mollah, J.U. & Islam, W., 2008. Toxicity of Murraya paniculata (L.) Jack leaf-derived materials against Callosobruchus maculatus (F.) (Coleoptera: Bruchidae). Pakistan Entomologist 30(1): 61–64.
  • Ogunwande, I.A., Matsui, T., Fujise, T. & Matsumoto, K., 2007. a-Glucosidase inhibitory profile of Nigerian medicinal plants in immobilized assay system. Food Science and Technology Research 13(2): 169–172.
  • Rout, P.K., Rao, Y.R., Sree, A. & Naik, S.N., 2007. Composition of essential oil, concrete, absolute, wax and headspace volatiles of Murrarya paniculata (Linn.) Jack flowers. Flavour and Fragrance Journal 22(5): 352–357.
  • Sharker, S.M., Shahid, I.J. & Hasanuzzaman, M., 2009. Antinociceptive and bioactivity of leaves of Murraya paniculata (L.) Jack, Rutaceae. Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia 19(3): 746–748.


  • E.N. Matu, CTMDR/KEMRI, P.O. Box 54840–00200, Nairobi, Kenya

Correct citation of this article

Matu, E.N., 2011. Murraya paniculata (L.) Jack. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. Accessed 28 January 2023.