We depend on donations from users of our database of over 8000 edible and useful plants to keep making it available free of charge and to further extend and improve it. In recent months donations are down, and we are spending more than we receive. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


Carmona retusa - (Vahl) Masam.

Common Name Fukien Tea, Philippine tea tree
Family Boraginaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Open, dry, sunny habitats, such as thickets, shrub vegetation and teak forest at low and moderate elevations[ 310 ]. Sandy soils and scrub forests[ 305 ]. Usually occur in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands.
Range E. Asia - China, Japan, Indian subcontinent, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, New Guinea, Australia and the Solomon Islands.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Carmona retusa Fukien Tea, Philippine tea tree

Forest Starr & Kim Starr http://www.starrenvironmental.com/
Carmona retusa Fukien Tea, Philippine tea tree
Ramon FVelasquez wikimedia.org


Translate this page:


Carmona retusa or commonly known as Fukien Tea or Philippine Tea Tree is a 4 m tall deciduous well-branched shrub with small white flowers and small drupe fruits. The fruit is consumed raw while leaves infusion is used as a tea substitute. In the Philippines, the plant is considered as one of the most important medicinal plants. The leaves are used in the treatment of cough, diarrhoea, colic, and dysentery. The root is an antidote to plant-based poisoning and is used against haemorrhage and for cleaning the body after giving birth. C. retusa is also planted as an ornamental hedge. Found In: Asia, China, Hawaii, India, Pacific, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, PNG, SE Asia, Taiwan, USA. Other Names: Pala, Bapanaburi, Pitta, Pisniki, Barranki, Buri, Piccaka, Kuruvingi, Kalamoga, Kattuvettilai, Bute, Ennebutige, Kujapponno, Ponnomari, Fuku-man-gi, Icha.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Carmona retusa is an evergreen Shrub growing to 3 m (9ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Carmona heterophylla Cav. Carmona microphylla (Lam.) G.Don Cordia retusa Vahl Ehretia buxifolia Roxb


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Leaves
Edible Uses: Tea

Fruit - raw[ 301 , 317 ]. An infusion of the leaves is used as a substitute for tea[ 301 , 310 , 345 ]. The leaves are dried in the shade and used as a tea. The fruit are eaten.

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antibacterial  Antidiarrhoeal  Antidote  Antitussive  Dysentery  Febrifuge  Stomachic

The leaves are antidiarrhoeal, febrifuge and stomachic[ 310 ]. An infusion is used as a remedy for stomach problems, dysentery and coughs[ 310 , 345 ]. The root is considered an antidote against plant-based poisoning and an alterative in cachexia and syphilis[ 310 , 345 ]. Furthermore, it is traditionally used to stop the haemorrhaging resulting from the bite of the viper Echis carinatus[ 310 ] The roots are reported to be ingested to clean the body after childbirth[ 310 ]. The plant has been shown to contain a range of medically active constituents. The leaves contain rosmarinic acid, flavonoid glycosides and triterpenoids[ 310 ]. Rosmarinic acid, a phenylacrylic acid derivative, is a known inhibitor of histamine release and a methanol extract of the leaves has shown strong antihistamine release properties[ 310 ]. In an experiment in the Philippines, tablets from the dried leaves reduced the formation of micronucleated polychromatic erythrocytes induced by mitomycin C, tetracycline, and dimethylnitrosamine. This suggests that these tablets possess antimutagenic activity[ 310 ] The root bark contains ehretianone, microphyllone and ehretianone[ 310 ]. Ehretianone, a quinonoid xanthene, has been shown to give protection against the action of snake venom[ 310 ]. Microphyllone and ehretianone have shown antibacterial activity against a panel of bacteria[ 310 ]. Many membes of this genus contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids and quinoid or phenolic compounds[ 310 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

Now available: PLANTS FOR YOUR FOOD FOREST: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens.

An important new book from PFAF. It focuses on the attributes of plants suitable for food forests, what each can contribute to a food forest ecosystem, including carbon sequestration, and the kinds of foods they yield. The book suggests that community and small-scale food forests can provide a real alternative to intensive industrialised agriculture, and help to combat the many inter-related environmental crises that threaten the very future of life on Earth.

Read More


Other Uses


Other uses rating: Low (2/5). Agroforestry Uses: The plant can be grown as an ornamental hedge[ 310 ].

Special Uses


References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

The plant has escaped from cultivation in Hawaii and become naturalized in secondary vegetation[ 305 ]. Plants can flower all year round[ 372 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

Shop Now


Seed, Cuttings, preferably of top shoots or young leafy shoots[ 310 ]. The roots develop slowly over a period of 1-2 months[ 310 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Carmona retusa or commonly known as Fukien Tea or Philippine Tea Tree. Other Names: Pala, Bapanaburi, Pitta, Pisniki, Barranki, Buri, Piccaka, Kuruvingi, Kalamoga, Kattuvettilai, Bute, Ennebutige, Kujapponno, Ponnomari, Fuku-man-gi, Icha.

Native Plant Search

Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Found In: Asia, China, Hawaii, India, Pacific, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, PNG, SE Asia, Taiwan, USA.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

May be a noxious weed or invasive. An invasive weed in Hawaii where it is a popular ornamental plant.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Print Friendly and PDF

Expert comment


(Vahl) Masam.

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

Readers comment

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Carmona retusa  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.