Singapore Government Logo

A Singapore Government Agency Website

Stachytarpheta jamaicensis


Stachytarpheta jamaicensis (L.) Vahl

Family Name: Verbenaceae
Synonyms: Stachytarpheta indica auct. non (L.) Vahl
Common Name: Brazilian Tea, Rooter Comb, Verbena Cimarrona, Gervao, Blue Porter Weed


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Shrub
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Rounded
Maximum Height 1 m


Native Distribution Africa
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Coastal Forest, Disturbed Area / Open Ground)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Non-native (Spontaneous (Naturalised))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Woody erect shrub with long prominent spike inflorescences. This species might be a hybrid between Stachytarpheta jamaicensis and Stachytarpheta angustifolia. Habitat: Found in tropical environments with a distinct dry season. Occurs along seashores and roadsides, as well as in disturbed areas, coconut plantations and mango groves. In Africa and Southeast Asia, this species is considered a weed in rice fields and pastures.
Foliage Opposite leaves are elliptic to ovate with dentate leaf margin (4 - 11 cm long).
Stems Woody stem has tan bark with linear-shaped lenticels.
Flowers Salverform, blue to purple flowers have a white throat and 5 lobes (1.3 cm wide). They are arranged on a 15 - 40 cm long terminal spike inflorescence (an inflorescence at the stem tip which has stalkless flowers held along one main axis). Only about 2 - 3 flowers are open at a time on the spike, lasting for one day and replaced by a new set the next day. The inflorescence blooms in this manner for several weeks.
Fruit Dry, indehiscent fruit is known as a nutlet, a one-seeded small nutlike fruit. It is formed by the fragmentation of a multi-sectioned fruit into single-seeded pieces.
Taxonomy Previous name of Stachytarpheta indica auct. non (L.) Vahl misused in Singapore. Current name of Stachytarpheta jamaicensis (L.) Vahl is applicable to naturalised plants in Singapore.
Cultivation Plant in well-drained, fertile soil enriched with compost. To prevent excessive establishment of new seedlings, remove spent flowers before they set seed.
Etymology The genus 'Stachytarpheta' comes from the Greek words for spike ("stachys") and thick ("tarphys"). It refers to the spike inflorescence found in many species of this genus.
Ethnobotanical Uses Food (Herb and Spice)
Others: In Nigeria, Snakeweed is traditionally used to treat diabetes and fever. In West Africa, the juice from the plant is used to treat cataract and sores on children’s ears. In Brazil, fresh leaf is crushed and applied on ulcers. Leaf extracts were shown to protect liver cells from a toxic chemical (Joshi et al 2010).The level of protection was comparable to a standard hepatoprotective drug called Liv-52.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping This species is planted as an ornamental shrub for its beautiful blue to purple flowers. It is ideal for butterfly gardens as a nectar plant. Place them in the back to avoid obscuring smaller species. Consider planting it alongside Stachytarpheta indica (variegated) which has green leaves with yellow spots. The variegated and non-variegated forms will blend nicely in terms of leaf shape, while providing a pleasing contrast in colours.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers
Landscape Uses Flowerbed / Border, Hedge / Screening, Coastal
Thematic Landscaping Butterfly Garden
Usage Hazard - Cons Invasive / Potentially Invasive

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Butterfly Food Plant
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Butterfly, Moth))
Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade, Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting
Propagation Method Remarks Propagate by seed or softwood cuttings. To collect seeds for propagation, allow the seedhead to dry on the plant before harvesting the seeds.


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate, Elliptical)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Dentate
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Acute
Typical Foliar Area Mesophyll ( 45cm2 - 182.25 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Bark Colour(s) tan
Mature Bark Texture Lenticellate
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Blue, Purple
Flower Symmetry Radial
Individual Flower Shape Salverform
Inflorescence Type Spike
Flowering Opening Time Daytime
Flower Lifespan on Plant 1 Day

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Indehiscent Dry Fruit , Nut / Nutlet

Image Repository



Master ID 1182
Species ID 2475
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 03 November 2022.