Plectranthus amboinicus (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Plectranthus amboinicus (Lour.) Spreng.

Protologue: Syst. veg. 2: 690 (1825).


  • Coleus amboinicus Lour. (1790),
  • Coleus aromaticus Benth. (1830),
  • Coleus carnosa Hassk. (1842).

Vernacular names

  • Country borage, Indian borage (En)
  • Indonesia: daun jinten (general), ajeran (Sundanese), daun kucing (Javanese)
  • Malaysia: bangun-bangun, membangun (Peninsular)
  • Philippines: oregano (Sp), suganda (Tagalog), latai (Subanun)
  • Cambodia: sak dam ray
  • Thailand: niam hu suea (central), hom duan luang, hom duan hu suea (northern)
  • Vietnam: rau tần, rau tần dầy lá, húng chanh.


Almost pantropical nowadays, assumed to be of Indonesian origin, but possibly originally from Africa; also much planted throughout Malesia.


P. amboinicus is considered as wound-healing in Indonesia, and is used to treat sores, fever (externally and internally), asthma and cough (juice or decoction of the leaves), headache (externally) and aphtha (chewing). In Malaysia, a decoction of the leaves is given after childbirth, and the juice to treat cough. Macerated fresh leaves are applied externally to burns and stings of centipedes and scorpions in the Philippines, and also to treat headache, and an infusion of the leaves as a carminative, and to treat dyspepsia and asthma. In Thailand, it is used to treat wounds and to alleviate cough. In Papua New Guinea, cuts, sores and scabies are treated with the sap squeezed from heated leaves. In pharmacy in Indonesia the leaves are known as "Folia Colei"; they are commonly used to treat thrush and aphtha. In Brazil, P. amboinicus is used to treat leishmanial ulcers. In Indo-China, it is used to treat asthma, bronchitis and insect stings, and as a pectoral and vulnerary. In India, it is applied to treat complaints of the genito-urinary system and colics. In Réunion, the leaf juice is used for curing wounds, and an infusion is said to possess anti-influenza properties. The leaves are used in Indonesia and the Philippines as a spice to give fragrance to dishes, and they are also rubbed on the hair and clothes for their scent. In Vietnam, the leaves are often used as a condiment in a popular sour soup, and also in meat dishes and stews, and in India they are eaten raw with bread and butter.


  • A perennial or semi-shrubby, variably succulent herb up to 100(-120) cm tall, non-tuberous.
  • Leaves broadly ovate, suborbicular or reniform, (3-)5-7(-10) cm × (2.5-)4-6(-8.5) cm, thick and fleshy.
  • Flowers in dense verticillasters disposed in terminal spike-like inflorescences, calyx subequally 5-toothed, corolla 8-12 mm long, pinkish-lilac to blue.
  • Nutlets flattened-globose, about 0.7 mm long, smooth, pale brown.

P. amboinicus occurs on roadsides, waste places and on river banks up to 1500 m altitude.

Selected sources

202, 292, 332, 350, 580, 720, 981, 1035, 1126, 1139, 1178, 1518.


Mulyati Rahayu