Baeckea frutescens L.

Last updated: 17 Jun 2016

Scientific Name

Baeckea frutescens L.


Baeckea chinensis Gaertn., Baeckea cochinchinensis Blume [Illegitimate], Baeckea cumingiana Schauer, Baeckea ericoides Schltdl., Baeckea sinensis Gaertn., Baeckea stenophylla F.Muell., Baeckea sumatrana Blume, Drosodendron rosmarinus (Lour.) M.Roem., Neuhofia rosmarinifolia Stokes [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Chuchur atap, cucuran atap, hujong atap [2], China maki, da eng, daun chuchor atap, rempah gunong, Timor tasek, ujan atap [3]
English False ru, shrubby baeckea [3]
China Gang song [3]
Indonesia Junjung atap (Bangka); jung rabab (Javanese); jhung rahab (Madurese) [2]
Thailand Son naa, son saai (Peninsular); son hom (South-eastern) [2]
Cambodia Moreck ansai [2][3]
Vietnam Ch[oor]i xu[eer], ch[oor]I s[er], thanh hao [2].

Geographical Distributions

Baeckea frutescens is distributed from Southeast Asia to Australia, including southern China, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi and New Guinea. It is not known to occur in Java, the Lesser Sunda Islands or the Philippines. [2]

Botanical Description

B. frutescens is a member of the Myrtaceae family. It is an evergreen that is a heather-like shrub or small tree up to a height of 8 m. The bark is greyish brown, fissured and flaky, branches upright then spreading and drooping with wiry ends. [2]

The leaves are opposite form and needle-like, seemingly in clusters at condensed nodes, and measure 6-15 mm x 0.4-0.8 mm. The base is narrowly wedge-shaped, obtuse apex or acute, margin is entire and resinous aromatic when crushed. The leaf stalk measures 0.5 mm long. [2]

The inflorescence is from axillary with 1-flowered. The peduncle is absent or very short while the pedicel measures between 0.8-1.7 mm long. There are 2 bracteoles, which fall off early. The flowers are bisexual with 5-merous and are cup-like or bell-shaped measure between 1.5-2.2 mm long. It is partly fused to the ovary while the sepals which measure 0.4-0.9 mm x 0.6-1.1 mm is semiorbicular with its petal measuring up to 5 mm across. The petals are orbicular, measuring 1.1-1.8 mm across, white and the oil glands are present. There are 7-13 stamens in groups of 1-3 opposite each hypanthium lobe, the filament measures 0.5-0.8 mm long and the anther measures about 0.3 mm long. The ovary is divided into 2-3-locular with 12-18 ovules per locule and terete style is measures about 1.2 mm long. [2]

The fruit is a hemispherical to bell-shaped capsule and opens by 3-4 longitudinal slits. [2]

The seedling is with epigeal germination; its cotyledons are small and green. The hypocotyl is elongated. The leaves are oppositely arranged and needle-like. [2]


B. frutescens grows on poor sandy and ultrabasic soils, in shrubland, often at high altitudes. It is also present in seasonally wet savanna and swamp forest. [2]

Chemical Constituent

B. frutescens  aerial parts has been reported to contain chromones (e.g. 5-hydroxy-7-methoxy-2-isopropyl-, 5-hydroxy-7-methoxy-2-isopropyl-8-methyl- and 5-hydroxy-7-methoxy-2-isopropyl-6-methyl-, 5-hydroxy-7-methoxy-2-methyl-, and 5-hydroxy-7-methoxy-2,8-dimethylchromones), chromanones (e.g. 2,5-dihydroxy-7-methoxy-2-isopropyl-, 2,5-dihydroxy-7-methoxy-2-isopropyl-8-methyl-, 2,5-dihydroxy-7-methoxy-2-isopropyl-6-methyl-, 2,5-dihydroxy-7-methoxy-2,8-dimethyl- and 2,5-dihydroxy-7-methoxy-2,6-dimethylchromanones). [4]

B. frutescens  leaves has been reported to contain chromone C-glycosides (e.g. 6-β-C-glucopyranosyl-5,7- dihydroxy-2-isopropylchromone, 8-β-C-glucopyranosyl-5,7-dihydroxy-2-isopropylchromone, 6-β-C-glucopyranosyl-5,7-dihydroxy- 2-methylchromone, 6-β-C-(2′-galloylglucopyranosyl)-5,7-dihydroxy-2-isopropylchromone and 8-β-C-(2′-galloylglucopyranosyl)-5,7-dihydroxy-2-isopropylchromone. [5]

B. frutescens  dried leaves has been reported to contain phloroglucinols (e.g. BF-1, BF-2, and baeckeol). [6]

B. frutescens  leaves has been reported to contain flavanones (e.g. BF-4, BF-5 and BF-6). [7]

Plant Part Used

Aerial parts, leaves, flowers, essential oil. [8]

Traditional Use

The B. frutescens  entire plant, except the roots, is used as an antibacterial, an antidysentery, an antipyretic and a diuretic. It is claimed to be effective in treating influenza, coryza, epistaxis, fever, headache, measles, colic, abdominal pain, dyspepsia, jaundice, haemorrhagic dysentery and irregular menstrual cycles. Its external usage is in treating furunculosis and impetigo. [8]

The leaves are also used to treat impetigo. Chinese use the leaves as remedy for sunstroke and fever. In Malaysia and Indonesia, they are used as an ingredient of the traditional medicine given to mothers during confinement. [8]

The flowers of this plant are used to treat dyspepsia and menstrual problems. They are also used in massaging postpartum women for the treatment of body aches and numbness of the limbs. The essential oil from this plant is used in the treatment of rheumatism. [8]

Preclinical Data


Cytotoxic activity

Phloroglucinols isolated from ethanol extract of B. frutescens  dried leaves exhibited cytotoxic activity. Only BF-2 showed strong cytotoxic activity (IC50 = 5.0 μg/mL) against leukaemia cells (L 1210) in tissue culture. [6]

Another study showed flavanones isolated from B. frutescens leaves also exhibited cytotoxic activity where compound BF-4 and BF-5 showed strong cytotoxic activity (IC50 = 0.2-0.5 μg/mL) against leukemia cells (L1210) in tissue culture. [7]

Anticariogenic activity

Methanol extracts from five tropical plants (B. frutescens, Glycyrrhiza glabra, Kaempferia pandurata, Physalis angulata andQuercus infectoria) were investigated for their anticariogenic activity against Streptococcus mutans. The extracts of all plants exhibited potent antibacterial activity against S. mutans causing dental caries at all concentrations tested. [9]

Inhibitory activity

In a study to identify the correlation between antimalarial and antibabesial activity of medicinal plants which are traditionally used for the treatment of malaria in Indonesia, 24 water extracts from 22 medicinal plants were screened against Plasmodium falciparum and Babesia gibsoni. The findings showed that almost all of the tested extracts inhibited the growth of B. gibsoni while they demonstrated different levels of growth inhibition on P. falciparum. The extract of B. frutescens displayed strong activity (above 80% inhibition) against malarial and babesial parasites. The study concluded that strong antimalarial activities paralleled strong antibabesial activities. However the converse was not true. This gives the suggestion that the plants used to treat malarial infection could be used to treat dogs infected with B. gibsoni. [10]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing



Figure 1: The line drawing of B. frutescens [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Baeckea frutescens L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Jun 17]. Available from:
  2. Yusuf UK. Baeckea frutescens L. In: van Valkenburg JLCH, Bunyapraphatsara N, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publishers, 2001; p. 96-98.
  3. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume I A-B. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 517.
  4. Tsui, W-Y, Brown GD. Chromones and chromanones from Baeckea frutescensPhytochemistry. 1996;43(4):871-876.
  5. Satake T, Kaqmiya K, Saiki Y, et al. Chromone C-glycosides from Baeckea frutescens. Phytochemistry. 1999;50(2):303-306.
  6. Fujimoto Y, Usui S, Makino M, Sumatra M. Phloroglucinols from Baeckea frutescens. Phytochemistry. 1999;41(3):923-925.
  7. Makino M, Fujimoto Y. Flavanones from Baeckea frutescens. Phytochemistry. 1998;50(2):273-277.
  8. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 1. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR, 2002; p. 98-99.
  9. Hwang JK, Shim JS, Chung JY. Anticariogenic activity of some tropical medicinal plants against Streptococcus mutans. Fitoterapia. 2004;75(6):596-598.
  10. Murnigsih T, Subeki, Matsuura H, et al. Evaluation of the inhibitory activities of the extracts of Indonesian traditional medicinal plants against Plasmodium falciparum and Babesia gibsoniJ Vet Med Sci. 2005;67(8):829-831.