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Chloranthus officinalis


Chloranthus officinalis Blume

Family Name: Chloranthaceae
Synonyms: Chloranthus erectus (Buch.-Ham.) Wall.
Common Name: Lowland Chloranthus, Rami Hutan, Sambau Paya, Sembau, Sigueh Puteh, 鱼子兰


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)
Plant Growth Form Shrub
Plant Shape Irregular
Maximum Height 3 m


Native Distribution From continental Asia, throughout Malesia region to New Guinea (including Singapore)
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Critically Endangered (CR))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a somewhat woody herb, or small shrub up to 3 m tall, with distinctly swollen joints of the stem. The plant parts are aromatic when crushed.        
Foliage Its opposite, stalked leaves possess rigidly papery leaf blades that are usually oval, 7.6–29 by 2.5–13 cm, and pointed at both ends, and whose margins are shallowly saw-toothed.    
Flowers Each flowering shoot is spreading, curving upwards, 2.5–5 cm long, and bears stalkless, pale yellowish-white flowers in opposite pairs along the shoot axis. The shoots are found in clusters of 5–13 at the tip of a main stalk.  
Fruits Its fruits are nearly round berries up to 7 mm wide, and ripen from green to glossy white. Each contains one hard, yellowish-white seed embedded in fleshy pulp.
Habitat It grows in lowland primary and secondary forests, sometimes by streams, in swampy places, or on limestone. It occurs locally in Nee Soon Freshwater Swamp Forest.  
Associated Fauna Its fruits are dispersed by birds.
Cultivation The shrub has fragrant flowers and leaves, and easily pruned into shape. It may be suitable for shady, cool and damp areas in gardens, or parks. It can be propagated by seeds, or stem cuttings.  
Etymology The genus Chloranthus is Latin for green flowers, while the specific epithet officinalis is Latin for related to a pharmacy, referring to its use as a medicinal plant.
Ethnobotanical Uses Medicinal ( Tea made using the plant parts can be taken for various medicinal purposes, such as treatment against fever. The powdered form of the boiled roots can be applied on the body as poultice for fever too.)
[Others]: The plant is used to produce dark blue or black dyes. It is occasionally cultivated as an ornamental plant.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Fragrant

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water
Propagation Method Stem Cutting


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Papery

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Remarks Yellowish White

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Green, White

Image Repository



Master ID 31052
Species ID 5439
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: 27 October 2022.