Coleus amboinicus

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Coleus amboinicus Lour.

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Order Lamiales
Family Lamiaceae
Genus Coleus

2n = 34

Origin : East and Southern Africa

wild or cultivated

English Indian borage
French gros thym

Uses summary
  • medicinal
  • condiment herb
  • ornamental


  • succulent herbaceous, aromatic, usually less than 1 m tall
  • ovate leaves, obtuse point, subcordate base, crenate margins, pubescent
  • flowers in tomentose whorls forming a spike of 10 to 30 cm; tomentose calyx, with long oblong and horizontal upper lip, ; whitish, pinkish or lilac-colored corolla

Popular names

English country borage, Indian borage ; Cuban oregano, Indian borage, Indian mint, Mexican mint, Mexican oregano, Spanish thyme (Flowers of India)
French gros thym antillais, origan cubain ; oreille (Haïti) (Mansfeld) ; thym pays ; gros baume, ti baume (Réunion)
Guyanese Creole grosse menthe [gros-mant], gros thym, thym pays [ten-péyi] (Pharma. Guyane)
West Indian Creole gros bitin [gro-biten] (Pharma. Guyane)
Spanish orégano francés (Cuba), orégano grueso (Quintana Roo, Mexique), orégano orejón (Vénézuela) (TRAMIL) ; orégano de Cartagena (Cuba) (Mansfeld)
Sanskrit कर्पूरवल्ली - karpuravalli, sugandhavalakam (Flowers of India)
Hindi पत्थरचूर - patharchur, पत्ता अजवाइन - patta ajwain (Flowers of India)
Marathi पत्थरचूर - pathurchur (Flowers of India)
Telugu sugandhavalkam, కర్పూరవల్లీ - karpoora valli, karuvaeru, vamu aaku (Flowers of India)
Tamoul கர்பூரவல்லீ - karpuravalli (Flowers of India)
Kannada ಕರ್ಪೂರವಲ್ಲಿ - karpuravalli, ದೊಡ್ಡಪತ್ರೆ - dodda pathre, ದೊಡ್ಡಪತ್ರೆ ಸೊಪ್ಪು - dodda pathre soppu (Flowers of India)
Malayalam panikkurkka, kannikkurkka (Flowers of India)
Manipuri ꯃꯅꯥ ꯍꯤꯗꯥꯛ - mana hidak (Flowers of India)
Philippines oregano (espagnol), suganda (tagalog), latai (subanun) (PROSEA)
Indonesian daun jinten (général), ajeran (sundanais), daun kucing (javanais) (PROSEA)
Malaysian bangun-bangun, membangun (péninsule) (PROSEA)
Thai niam hu suea (centre), hom duan luang, hom duan hu suea (nord) (PROSEA)
Vietnamese rau tần, rau tần dầy lá, húng chanh (PROSEA)
Cambodian sak dam ray (PROSEA)


Coleus amboinicus Lour. (1790)

synonyms :

  • Plectranthus amboinicus (Lour.) Spreng. (1825)
  • Plectranthus aromaticus auct. non Roxb. (1814), sensu Roxb. (1832)


Numerous cultivars and hybrids, making the species difficult to identify. An ornamental cultivar has creamy white-edged leaves.



Cultivated as a medicinal plant, potherb and condiment in the tropics (parts of Africa, India, SE Asia, West Indies, Mexico, recently southern USA). The aromatic leaves are used for flavouring meat, soups, fish, local beer, eaten as a vegetable, employed for washing clothes and hair. The herb is a folk remedy (poultice for burns and bites, internally as a carminative and antiasthma). Also grown for its essential oil in the Far East and as an ornamental plant.


Scent of thyme or oregano.

The aromatic leaves are used to fill or flavor meats. They are a substitute for sage and borage (Purseglove, 1968).


  • Grenand, Pierre ; Moretti, Christian ; Jacquemin, Henri & Prévost, Marie-Françoise, 2004. Pharmacopées traditionnelles en Guyane. Créoles, Wayãpi, Palikur. 2e édition revue et complétée. Paris, IRD. 816 p. (1ère éd.: 1987). See on Pl@ntUse.
  • Nakab, Jessica, 2019. Contribution aux études ethnobotanique et phytochimique des espèces Plectranthus neochilus et P. amboinicus de l’île de La Réunion. Thèse Marseille, Sciences pharmaceutiques. online.
  • Purseglove J.W., 1968. Tropical crops: Dicotyledons. Harlow (U.K.), Longman. 2 vol., XV-719 p.
  • TRAMIL, Pharmacopée végétale caribéenne, éd. scient. L. Germosén-Robineau. 2014. 3e éd. Santo Domingo, Canopé de Guadeloupe. 420 p. See on Pl@ntUse