Some species of Plectranthus are difficult to identify because of a lack of clear-cut morphological criteria to discriminate not only among species within the genus but also among the closely related genera. This has resulted in numerous taxonomic problems in the naming of species with the result that species have often been placed in several closely related genera like Coleus, Solenostemon and Englerastrum. In addition, some species formally placed in Plectranthus, are now recognized as the more distantly related genus Isodon.
Because of these taxonomic issues, different names have often been used for the same species of Plectranthus and thus it has been difficult to collate information about the ethnobotanical uses of this genus. Furthermore, the most commonly used medicinal species of Plectranthus have a high degree of synonymy[
This report is very much indebted to the work of C.W. Lukhoba et al. - Journal of Ethnopharmacology 103 (2006) 1–24[
] in untangling much of this mess of names, and utilizes the on-line Kew database ‘World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (http://wcsp.science.kew.org/home.do) for determining currently accepted names and synonyms (as of 2018).
Calchas acuminatus (Benth.) P.V.Heath
Calchas atropurpureus (Benth.) P.V.Heath
Calchas crispipilus (Merr.) P.V.Heath
Calchas scutellarioides (L.) P.V.Heath
Coleus acuminatus Benth.
Coleus atropurpureus Benth.
Coleus blancoi Benth.
Coleus blumei Benth.
Coleus crispipilus (Merr.) Merr.
Coleus formosanus Hayata
Coleus gaudichaudii Briq.
Coleus gibbsiae S.Moore
Coleus grandifolius Benth.
Coleus grandifolius Blanco
Coleus hybridus Cobeau
Coleus igolotorum Briq.
Coleus ingrates (Blume) Benth.
Coleus integrifolius Elmer
Coleus laciniatus (Blume) Benth.
Coleus multiflorus Benth.
Coleus pubescens Merr.
Coleus pumilus Blanco
Coleus rehneltianus A.Berger
Coleus savannicola K.Schum.
Coleus scutellarioides (L.) Benth.
Coleus secundiflorus Benth.
Coleus verschaffeltii Lem.
Coleus zschokkei Merr.
Germanea nudiflora Poir.
Majana acuminate (Benth.) Kuntze
Majana blancoi (Benth.) Kuntze
Majana grandifolia (Benth.) Kuntze
Majana multiflora (Benth.) Kuntze
Majana pumila (Blanco) Kuntze
Majana scutellariodes (L.) Kuntze
Majana secundiflora (Benth.) Kuntze
Ocimum peltatum Schweigg. ex Schrank
Ocimum scutellarioides L.
Perilla nankinensis Wender.
Plectranthus aromaticus Roxb.
Plectranthus blumei (Benth.) Launert
Plectranthus ingrates Blume
Plectranthus laciniatus Blume
Plectranthus nudiflorus (Poir.) Willd.
Plectranthus scutellarioides Blume
Solenostemon blumei (Benth.) M.Gómez
Solenostemon scutellarioides (L.) Codd
Common Name: Coleus
Plectranthus scutellarioides is an aromatic, evergreen perennial plant with erect to ascending stems that can become more or less woody near the base; it can grow 50 - 150cm tall. It does not form root tubers[
The plant is sometimes harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine. It is often grown as an ornamental in gardens and as a pot plant in cooler climates; there is a wide range of cultivated forms, valued especially for their wide range of variegated leaves[
E. Asia - China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, New Guinea, northern Australia, Solomon Islands.
Various habitats from the lowland to mountains; growing in rain-forest; shaded stream-banks and other watercourses; rice-field dykes; thickets; limestone hills; secondary forest; mossy forest, disturbed ground etc; at elevations up to 2,900 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Plectranthus scutellarioides is cultivated outdoors in subtropical and tropical regions. It can only tolerate occasional very light frosts.
Succeeds in full sun to moderate shade, growing well in a ide range of soils, preferably moist but well-drained[
The plant is widely grown as an ornamental and can escape from cultivation. It is listed as 'Invasive' in Cuba and a cultivation escape in Puerto Rico and some Pacific Islands. The species is shade tolerant, can grow in a wide range of habitats, reproduces by both seeds and stem cuttings, and can form dense thickets. It currently appears to be a minor pest rather than a seriously damaging weed[
]. This species does not produce tubers[
The leaves are eaten fresh with bread and butter, or are bruised and put into country beer[
The plant (part not specified) is employed in the treatment of dyspepsia, ophthalmia, headaches, bruises etc[
]. It is also considered to be abortifacient and is used as a repellent for intestinal worms[
The roots are used internally to treat diarrhoea and colic[
The leaves are anthelmintic, digestive, emmenagogue and sedative[
]. They are used to treat urinary complaints, dyspepsia and congestion of the liver[
]. The leaves and young shoots from the purple-black wild species are squeezed into a cup, a pinch of salt is added and the mixture taken to induce abortion and remove the afterbirth[
Applied externally, they are used to treat swellings, smallpox and ophthalmia. The fresh leaves are applied as a poultice to bruises and contusions, and also to treat headache. The young leaves are baked and squeezed whilst hot onto fresh cuts and sores[
The sap, or a decoction of the plant, is used as an abortivum and emmenagogue, and to treat haemorrhoids, inflamed eyes and boils[
The sap of the plant is squeezed into the eye in the case of eye injury, and also rubbed on swellings[
]. The juice squeezed from new, soft leaves is applied to sores, including those of leprosy[
The plant is used as a living fence in coffee plantations[
The sap from the leaves of the wild, purple-black species is used in tattooing[
Seed - sow in well-drained soil, covering lightly with a thin layer of sand, and place in a warm but shaded spot. The seed germinates in about three weeks[
Cuttings of Plectranthus species generally root easily - soft tips root faster than semi-hardwood growth. The cuttings are best taken 60 - 100mm long with three or four nodes, making the cut just below a node. Place them in sand, perlite, vermiculite or peat, or any mixture of these, keep them moist and shaded and they should root in 2 - 3 weeks[