Please donate to support our ‘Plants to Save the Planet’ Project. The Project is directed at enabling designers of ‘carbon farms’ and ‘food forests’: agroecosystems of perennial plants, to choose the most appropriate plants for their requirements and site conditions. We are working on a subset of plants in the PFAF database identified as having the most potential for inclusion in such designs. We are adding search terms and icons to those plants pages, and providing a range of search options aligned to categories of plants and crop yields, with Help facilities including videos. 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
Carmona retusa Fukien Tea, Philippine tea tree
Ramon FVelasquez


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.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (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:

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.


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.

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 ].


Our new book Edible Shrubs is now available.

Edible Shrubs provides detailed information, attractively presented, on over 70 shrub species. They have been selected to provide a mix of different plant sizes and growing conditions. Most provide delicious and nutritious fruit, but many also have edible leaves, seeds, flowers, stems or roots, or they yield edible or useful oil.

Read More

Edible Shrubs Book

Other Uses

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

Special 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 ].


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.

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

QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.

2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.

3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the website on their phone.

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 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. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Some information cannot be used for commercial reasons or be modified (but some can). Please view the copyright link for more information.
Web Design & Management