Crossostephium chinense (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Crossostephium chinense (L.) Makino

Protologue: Bot. Mag. Tokyo 20: 33 (1906).
Family: Compositae
Chromosome number: 2n= 18


Artemisia chinensis L. (1753), Crossostephium artemisioides Less. (1831).

Vernacular names

  • Philippines: ajenjo (Sp, Tagalog)
  • Vietnam: nguyệt bạch, cúc mốc.

Origin and geographic distribution

C. chinense occurs in southern China, the Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan and the Philippines (Batan Islands). It is cultivated in Vietnam, China and the Philippines (often in flower pots), and also for ornamental or medicinal purposes in Java, where it was already present around 1740.


In the Philippines, an infusion of the leaves and branch tips is considered carminative and useful as an emmenagogue. In Vietnam and China, an infusion of the leaves (usually sweetened) is used in traditional medicine to treat congestions, cough and irregularity of the menstrual cycle. The leaves are also used as a carminative and emmenagogue in Thailand.


The triterpenes taraxerol, taraxeryl acetate and taraxerone have been isolated from C. chinense . Anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory activities have been reported in tests with mice for the triterpene alcohol taraxerol, isolated from Compositae and some other plant species.


A small aromatic shrub up to 30 cm tall, much branched often with spreading branches leafless below, densely leafy near apex. Leaves alternate, narrowly spatulate or oblanceolate, 2-5 cm × 0.2-1.2(-2) cm, fleshy, entire or 3-lobate, long-tapering at base into petiole, hairy on both surfaces; stipules absent. Inflorescence a shortly peduncled head c. 7 mm broad, racemosely arranged in the axils of reduced leaves towards the apex of branches, involucre hemispherical, 3-seriate, outer bracts densely tomentose. Flowers all with tubular corolla c. 1.5 mm long, yellowish, glandular; ray flowers pistillate, 1-3-seriate, with 2-4-dentate corolla; disk flowers numerous, bisexual, with 5-lobed corolla; stamens 5, anthers connate, with large appendages at apex; ovary inferior, 1-celled, style shortly bifid. Fruit an ovoid-oblong achene, c. 1.5 mm long, 5-angular, glandular, truncate at apex with short irregular paleaceous pappus c. 0.5 mm long.

When cultivated in Java, fruits do not develop, but the plants may flower throughout the year.

Crossostephium belongs to the tribe Anthemideae and consists of a single species. Some American species formerly included in this genus are now usually considered to belong to Artemisia . Crossostephium differs from Artemisia in its larger heads, stamens with larger appendages and scaly pappus.


C. chinense occurs in coastal areas, often in pitted surfaces on limestone or raised coral formations, also in coastal forest.

Management Propagation by softwood or semi-ripe cuttings is possible as practised for the commonly cultivated shrubby Artemisia species.

Genetic resources

C. chinense is often cultivated and may thus be protected against genetic erosion. However, the genetic diversity of neither cultivated nor wild plants is known.


Very little is known about C. chinense , but the medicinal properties and uses indicated seem to justify more research.


62, 671, 760, 818.

Other selected sources

117, 544, 974.

Main genus page


R.H.M.J. Lemmens