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Peumus boldus - Molina.

Common Name Boldu, Boldo
Family Monimiaceae
USDA hardiness 8-11
Known Hazards The leaves contain a toxic alkaloid[4]. Boldo volatile oil is one of the most toxic oils. Excessive doses have caused irritation of the kidneys and genitourinary tract. A massive overdose can cause paralysis [301]. Should not use by patients with kidney disease [301].
Habitats Dry sunny slopes in lightly wooded country[165].
Range S. America - Chile.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Half Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Peumus boldus Boldu, Boldo

Peumus boldus
Peumus boldus Boldu, Boldo


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Physical Characteristics

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Peumus boldus is an evergreen Tree growing to 6 m (19ft 8in) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9. It is in leaf all year, in flower from August to September. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). and is pollinated by Insects. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Boldu boldus. Boldea fragrans. Boldea boldus. Boldu chilanum


Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit
Edible Uses: Condiment

Fruit - raw or cooked[1, 2, 166]. Sweet and aromatic with an agreeable flavour[2, 183]. The fruit is up to 2cm in diameter[2]. The leaves and bark are used as a condiment[177].


Medicinal Uses

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Analgesic  Antiseptic  Antispasmodic  Bitter  Cholagogue  Diuretic  Stimulant  Tonic

Boldu is a traditional remedy used by the Araucanian Indians of Chile as a tonic. The plant stimulates liver activity and bile flow and is chiefly valued as a remedy for gallstones and liver or gallbladder pain[254]. It is normally taken for only a few weeks at a time, either as an infusion or as a tincture[254]. It is often combined with other herbs such as Berberis vulgaris or Chionanthus virginicus in the treatment of gallstones[254]. The leaves are analgesic, antiseptic (urinary), bitter, cholagogue, diuretic, stimulant and tonic[4, 46, 165, 235]. They are considered a valuable cure for gonorrhoea in S. America[4]. The plant is taken internally in the treatment of liver disease (though the bark is more effective here), gallstones, urinary tract infections, intestinal parasites and rheumatism[238]. It has been used in the past as a substitute for quinine in the treatment of malaria[238]. The leaves are harvested during the growing season and are dried for later use[238]. Some caution is advised, the plant should not be used by pregnant women[254]. See also the notes above on toxicity. A volatile oil obtained from the plant destroys internal parasites[238]. Alkaloids contained in the bark are a stimulant for the liver[238]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Peumus boldus for dyspeptic complaints (indigestion) (see [302] for critics of commission E).


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Other Uses

Beads  Charcoal  Dye  Essential  Repellent  Tannin

The bark is a source of tannin and is also used as a dye[1, 4, 238]. A deliciously fragrant essential oil is obtained from the leaves[245]. The dried and powdered leaves are scattered amongst clothes to sweeten them and repel insects[245]. The small fruits are dried and used as beads in necklaces[245]. When warmed by the body or the sun they release the scent of cinnamon[245]. The wood is used for making charcoal[4].

Special Uses

Scented Plants


Cultivation details

Dislikes soils that are too moist[166]. Prefers a well-drained acid sandy soil in full sun[166, 200, 238]. Hardy in climatic zone 9 (tolerating occasional light frosts), this plant normally requires greenhouse protection in Britain but is capable of withstanding light frosts and might succeed outdoors in the mildest areas of the country, especially if grown against a sunny wall[166, 200]. One report says that the plant succeeds outdoors at Kew Gardens in London, where it often flowers all year round[245]. All parts of the plant are sweetly aromatic[245]. The leaves have a lemon-camphor aroma[238]. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if fruit and seed is required[238].


Temperature Converter

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Seed - sow spring in a warm greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer and give them some protection from winter cold for at least their first winter or two outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame[200]. Grow the cuttings on in the frame or greenhouse for at least their first winter.

Other Names

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Found In

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

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 :

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.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

   Tue May 16 2006

Where would I obtain a boldo leaf plant?

Jean Schwennesen   Mon May 19 2008

PS - It would be helpful to have some sort of link to determine you definition of "Zone 9". Jean Schwennesen

   Mon May 19 2008

Not sure if my earlier comment got thru (internet blipped out) - I also am interested in a source for a boldo plant or seed. Will ask our son who is in Argentina about this - do not feel TOO concerned about the possibility of introducing a potentially invasive plant to Arizona, based on your description - I believe it would not survive out cold winters (20 F EVERY winter, 0 F occassionally.

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