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Orthosiphon aristatus - (Blume) Miq.

Common Name Java Tea, Cat's Whiskers
Family Lamiaceae
USDA hardiness 9-12
Known Hazards Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Habitats Forest margins[334 ]. Thickets, regrowths, grasslands and along forest borders and roadsides, often in shaded not too dry localities, but also in sunny places, at elevations up to 1,000 metres[310 ].
Range E. Asia - China, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Australia.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Orthosiphon aristatus Java Tea, Cat

Orthosiphon aristatus Java Tea, Cat
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Orthosiphon aristatus, commonly known as Java Tea or Cat's Whiskers, is a popular herbal plant grown in East Asia. It reaches a height of 200 cm upon maturity. The leaves contain flavones, saponins, a glycoside, an essential oil, and potassium. It has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is highly diuretic and used in the treatment of various kidney conditions, cystitis, urethritis, and gout. It has two named varieties - Orthosiphon aristatus var. aristatus and Orthosiphon aristatus var. velteri. Plant propagation is through seeds and stem cuttings.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Orthosiphon aristatus is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) 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 and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Clerodendranthus spicatus (Thunb.) C.Y.Wu Clerodendranthus stamineus (Benth.) Kud? Clerodendrum spic

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

None known

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  Antibiotic  Antifungal  Antiinflammatory  Antirheumatic  Diuretic  Emetic  Hypoglycaemic  

Java tea is a popular herbal remedy in southeast Asia and is also commonly exported to Germany and various other countries. Research has confirmed the presence of a number of medically active compounds and also the diuretic action of the leaves[310 ]. The leaves contain flavones (including sinensetin), saponins, a glycoside (orthosiphonin), an essential oil and large amounts of potassium (which is largely responsible for the diuretic effect)[254 , 310 ]. In tests with healthy volunteers in Thailand, extracts of the plant increased excretion of citrate and oxalate. Although a higher level of oxalate may increase the risk of kidney stones, the increased citrate output helps prevent stone formation[310 ]. It has been demonstrated that Java tea has anti-microbial properties. Aqueous extracts markedly inhibited the growth of both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria[310 ]. Saponins may play a role in bacteriostatic activity in vitro[310 ]. Caffeic acid derivatives (which represent as much as 95% of the phenolic substances present in a hot water extract) may also be responsible for the antibiotic activity[310 ]. The lipophilic flavonoids, of which sinensetin and tetramethylscutellarein are the most abundant, have shown inhibitory effect against Ehrlich ascites tumour cells in vitro[310 ]. Additionally, these flavonoids may be partially responsible for anti-inflammatory effects, since flavonoids are inhibitors of cyclo-oxygenase and lipoxygenase[310 ]. The crude herb is said to cause vomiting[310 ]. The leaves are strongly diuretic and are believed to increase the kidneys' ability to eliminate nitrogen-containing compounds[254 ]. They are used in the treatment of kidney infections, kidney stones and poor renal function as a result of chronic nephritis[254 , 348 ]. They are also used in the treatment of cystitis, urethritis and gout[254 , 310 ]. They are used, in combination with other plants such as Sonchus spp or Barleria spp, to stimulate the kidneys and as a medicine for nephritis, gallstones and diabetes[310 ]. Combined with the leaves of Blumea balsamifera and Phyllanthus fraternus, plus the rhizomes of Curcuma xanthorrhiza, the leaves are used to treat jaundice[310 ]. Combined with the leaves of Andrographis paniculata, they are used to treat diabetes[310 ]. In mixtures with the leaves of other plants, they are also used against gout, rheumatism and arteriosclerosis[310 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


Other Uses None known

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

The plant has escaped from cultivation and become naturalised in some areas[305 ]. Harvest usually starts 8 - 10 weeks after planting, at the beginning of flowering. Every 2 - 3 weeks the upper 4 - 10 leaves of shoots are plucked by hand[310 ]. Annual yields of dry leaves amount to 1,500 kg/ha[310 ]. Smallholders usually sun-dry leaves. In estate farming artificial drying is practised. To obtain a high-quality product, the leaves are first withered in the air, and then dried at 45 - 50°c. Dried leaves of good quality are green (a blackish colour is due to overheating or contact with metal containers), have a good aroma, a moisture content below 14%, a bitter taste, an ash content of about 10%, a contamination content of less than 2%, and do not contain insects or fungi[310 ]. Three cultivars of Orthosiphon aristatus are distinguished: one with bluish-violet and two with white flowers. The white-flowered cultivar with reddish stems, petioles and leaf veins appears to possess the best diuretic qualities[310 ]. Flowering Time: Late Summer/Early Fall. Bloom Color: Light Blue Violet/Lavender White/Near White. Spacing: 9-12 in. (22-30 cm).

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - Stem cuttings, 15 - 20cm long, which have some buds[310 ]. Cuttings are usually planted in shade, with 40 - 60cm between plants and rows. Often 4 - 6 cuttings are placed in one hole. Direct planting in the field or in the backyard, as is most common, can be done all the year round, but the usual time of planting is at the beginning of the rainy season. For plantations, planting in a nursery for a period of 45 days with the cuttings placed vertically with only one bud visible is preferred[310 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Java Tea, Cat's Whiskers, cat's whiskers, cat's-whiskers, cat´s whiskers|un known , folia orthosiphonis staminei, java tea, java-tea, katzenbart, kidney tea plant, koemis koetjing, kumis kucing, kumis kutjing, long-stamened orthosiphon, misai kucing, morrhårsmynta, moustache de chat, orthosiphon, orthosiphonblätter, orthosiphonis folium, orthosipnonis stamini folium, shen cha, thé de java, thé du java, tè de giava, whiskerplant.

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Found In

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

Asia, Indochina, Japan, Laos, SE Asia,

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.

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.


Expert comment


(Blume) Miq.

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.

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