White Butterfly

Clerodendrum calamitosum L.

OVERVIEW

White butterfly flowers the whole year round and is native to Malaysia and Indonesia, and belongs to family Lamiaceae (Verbenaceae).  It is not only an ornamental but is also grown in home gardens as a medicinal herb for traditional remedies.

VERNACULAR NAMES

Hua shi shu (Chinese), Glaseterplant (Dutch), Melur susun (Malay).

AGROECOLOGY

A tropical/sub-tropical plant, commonly found in Java. It grows wild on the lowlands up to elevations of 700 m above sea level on forest fringes, estates and plantations. Prefers in the full sun or semi-shade and a moist soils or well-drained soils.

MORPHOLOGY

  • Stem – greyish or brown, subglabrous, branchlets slender, slightly pubescent, obtusely quadrangular.
  • Leaves – oval-shaped with serrated margins and are arranged opposite one another. They are smooth on the upper side and coarse on the underside. New leaves are dark green and turn a pale green as they mature. Each leaf is about 10 cm long and 6 cm wide.
  • Flowers – produced on leaf axils in dense terminal inflorescences. They are creamy white, very showy and scented. The fragrance is more pronounced in the evening. There are five petals in each flower, fused into a 2-3 cm long tube. The style and stamens protrude, with the style extending 4-5 cm, stamens 2-3 cm and anthers 2-3 mm. The flowers wither off, leaving behind the sepals, which turn from pinkish green to a dark red as they mature.
  • Fruits – a drupe or berry about 7-8 mm in diameter. They turn dark purple to black when ripe. The berries attract birds while the flowers attract butterflies and moths.

CULTIVATION

  • Propagated by seeds and stem cuttings.

CHEMICAL CONSTITUENTS

Saponin, flavonoid, polyphenol, alkaloid, pheophorbide-related compounds (purpurin 7 dimethyl ester, pheophorbide a and (10S)- hydroxypheophorbide).

TRADITIONAL MEDICINAL USES

  • Leaves are used to treat fever, hemorrhoids, kidney stone and gonorrhea.
  • The plants are both empirically and scientifically used as antiinflammatory, antidiabetic, antimalarial, antiviral, antihypertensive, hypolipidemic, antioxidant, antitumor and anticancer.
  • esults of the molecular docking simulation of chemical content of these plants could potentially provide an anticancer effect
  • Roots are basically used as treatment of snake bites. Take a piece of the root the size a thumb, chew and swallow the liquid while the residue is applied over the bites.

Reference Sources

Wang, J.H., Luan, F., He, X.D., Wang, Y., Li, M.X. (2017). Traditional uses and pharmacological properties of Clerodendrum phytochemicals. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine 8 (2018) 24 – 38.