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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] 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.
  • [292] Cramer, L.H., 1981. Lamiaceae (Labiatae). In: Dassanayake, M.D. & Fosberg, F.R. (Editors): A revised handbook to the flora of Ceylon. Vol. 3. Amerind Publishing Co., New Delhi, India. pp. 108-194.
  • [332] de Padua, L.S., Lugod, G.C. & Pancho, J.V., 1977-1983. Handbook on Philippine medicinal plants. 4 volumes. Documentation and Information Section, Office of the Director of Research, University of the Philippines at Los Baños, the Philippines.
  • [350] Dharma, A.P., 1981. Indonesische geneeskrachtige planten [Indonesian medicinal plants]. De Driehoek, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. 168 pp.
  • [580] Heyne, K., 1950. De nuttige planten van Indonesië [The useful plants of Indonesia]. 3rd Edition. 2 volumes. W. van Hoeve, 's-Gravenhage, the Netherlands/Bandung, Indonesia. 1660 + CCXLI pp.
  • [720] Keng, H., 1978. Labiatae. 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. 301-394.
  • [981] Morton, J.F., 1992. Country borage (Coleus amboinicus Lour.): a potent flavoring and medicinal plant. Journal of Herbs, Spices and Medicinal Plants 1(1-2): 77-90.
  • [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.
  • [1139] Pino, J.A., Garcia, J. & Martinez, M.A., 1996. Comparative chemical composition of the volatiles of Coleus aromaticus by steam distillation, solvent extraction and supercritical carbon dioxide extraction. Journal of Essential Oil Research 8(4): 373-375.
  • [1178] Quisumbing, E., 1978. Medicinal plants of the Philippines. Katha Publishing Co., Quezon City, the Philippines. 1262 pp.
  • [1518] Vera, R., Mondon, J.M. & Pieribattesti, J.C., 1993. Chemical composition of the essential oil and aqueous extract of Plectranthus amboinicus. Planta Medica 59(2): 182-183.

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