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Coleus monostachyus


Coleus monostachyus (P.Beauv.) A.J.Paton

Family Name: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)

Ocimum monostachyum P.Beauv., Plectranthus monostachyus (P.Beauv.) B.J.Pollard, Plectranthus palisotii Benth., Solenostemon monostachyus (P.Beauv.) Briq.

Common Name: Monkey's Potato


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

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


Native Distribution Africa
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Local Conservation Status Exotic (Spontaneous (Naturalised))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Herbaceous perennial up to 1 m tall.
Foliage Light green leaves are ovate with a crenate leaf margin (lined with rounded teeth).
Flowers Spike inflorescence is composed of small, pea-shaped flowers. The flower is composed of 2 bright purple petals fused to form a keel shape, a pinkish white banner and 2 reduced wings.
Fruits The fruit is composed of 4 round, flattened nutlets (1 mm wide).
Similar This species resembles Indian Borage (Plectranthus amboinicus), but it has a 4-sided stem, while the latter has a round one.
Cultivation In Singapore, this species is not cultivated and generally considered a weed.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Leaves)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable : In Africa, the leaves are boiled as a vegetable.)
Medicinal ( According to folk medicine, the leaf sap is taken internally for fever, cough, headache, colic and convulsions. It is thought to have a calming, sedative effect, as well as improving appetite and strengthening the stomach.)
Cultural / Religious ( In Africa, this species is used in rituals related to pregnancy.)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Maintenance Requirements Low
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Bulging in between Veins
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Crenate
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Acute, Cuneate

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Purple
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal
Flower Symmetry Bilateral
Individual Flower Shape Papilionaceous / Pea-shaped
Inflorescence Type Spike
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Indehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Nut / Nutlet
Seed Quantity Per Fruit Few (1-5)

Image Repository



Master ID 31802
Species ID 6202
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: 18 August 2022.