Lippia javanica (Burm.f.) Spreng.

Last updated: 2016 Sept 29

Scientific Name

Lippia javanica (Burm.f.) Spreng.


Blairia javanica (Burm.f.) Gaertn., Lantana galpiniana H.Pearson, Lantana lavandulacea Willd., Lippia asperifolia A.Rich. ex Marthe, Lippia capensis (Thunb.) Spreng., Lippia indica Moldenke, Lippia scabra Hochst., Lippia whytei Moldenke, Phyla javanica (Burm.f.) Moldenke, Verbena capensis Thunb., Verbena javanica Burm.f., Verbena odorata Desf. ex Steud. [Invalid], Zappania javanica (Burm.f.) Lam., Zappania odoratissima Scop. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Common lippie, fever tea, fever tree, wild sage, wild tea [2]
India Ban nebu, lakechu-takee, nagairi, yuetory gach [2]
Kenya Ang’were-rao, kyulu, mweny [2]
Southern Africa Beukesbos, gewone lippie, koorsteebossie, lemoenbossie, maagbossie, mumara, zumbani, umsuzwana, bokhukhwane (Tsawana); inzinzinibz (Xhosa); mumara, mushanimukuru, zimbane, zimbari (Shona); musuzwane (Shangaan); mutswane (Swati); umsuzwana (Ndebele); umsuzwane (Zulu) [2].

Geographical Distributions

Lippia javanica is a woody shrub found throughout eastern and southern Africa, usually on forest fringe, grasslands on hillsides and banks of streams. It can be found in Tanzania to Kenya, and in Southern Africa, Eastern Cape, Botswana, Swaziland, Mozambique and Malawi. The species is drought resistant and can grow in a variety of soil types. [3]

Botanical Description

L. javanica falls under the family of Verbenaceae [1]. It is a 1 to 2m woody shrub, that stand erect and is multi-stemmed. [3]

The stems are heavily branched and appear square when observed in a cross section. [3]

The leaves are elliptical, 3-4 cm in length with sunken veins, when crushed they give off a lemon like odour. The leaf margins are dentate, lightly toothed and hairy on both sides. [3]

The flowers are creamy white, clustered together in a dense round spike at the apex of the stem. Flowers are creamy white, densely clustered together, in round spikes. Flowers are inflorescence 1-3 per axils, globose to hemispherical or oblong to ovoid, 0.5-2 cm. [3]

The fruits are rather inconspicuous, small and dry and are borne at the base of flower clusters. They are mericarp half ellipsoid, 1.5 mm long, 1mm wide, densely pubescent outside. [3]

The seeds appear as tiny nuts and are brown in colour. [3]


No documentation

Chemical Constituent

L. javanica has been reported to contain α-pinene, carvone, cycloheptatriene, β-phellandrene, careen, eucalyptol, caryophyllene oxide, 4-ethyl-noncosane, tagetenone peroxide, myrcenone, piperitenone, apigenin, cirsimaritin, 6-methoxyluteolin, 4-methyl ether. [4][5]

Plant Part Used

Leaves, stems, root. [3]

Traditional Use

L. javanica has been consistently used by traditional African medical practitioners and common peoples for its perceived antimicrobial activity, often in cases of cough or cold. Typically, the leaves and stems of L. javanica have been made into an infusion and either ingested, or inhaled to alleviate respiratory and bronchial disorders. The same infusion has also been used topically to treat wounds and dermatological disorders. In some cases, the root has been used in the infusion in addition to the stems and leaves. The roots of L. javanica have traditionally been used in Africa to protect against as well as treat malaria, diarrhea, and dysentery. [6]

Perhaps due to its potent aromatic properties, L. javanica has also been used as a mosquito repellant, which coincides well with its use as an antimalarial. [4]

Preclinical Data


Antimicrobial activity

A preclinical study on the antibacterial effects of the essential oil of L. javanica was performed in 2005. The aerial parts of the plant were converted into an essential oil using hydrodistillation. L. javanica was revealed to have effective antibacterial activity on Klebsiella pneumoniae, Cryptococcus neoformans and Bacillus cereus in a time-kill experiment, lending credence to the traditional usage for respiratory infections. The greatest reduction of one bacterial species in the study was that of K. pneumonia. [6]

An additional preclinical study was undertaken on the genus Lippia and its perceived usage in digestive and respiratory disorders. The conclusion was that, most likely, the phenolic compounds found throughout a vast majority of the Lippia genus were responsible for its antimalarial, hypotensive, spasmolytic, and anti-inflammatory activity, though more conclusive and specific studies are needed to further understand the action. [7]

Recently, in 2008, eight compounds isolated from L. javanica were tested for their bioactivity against the HIV-1 virus. Two of the compounds, (E)-2(3)-tagetenone epoxide and 3',4',7-trimethyl ether, were found to inhibit the reverse transcriptase enzyme of HIV-1 by 91 and 53 percent respectively. [5]


In a pre-clinical study, several compounds were tested against a drug-sensitive strain of M. tuberculosis. One of the constituents of this herb, euscaphic acid was found to have a slight inhibitory effect. [5]


No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Lippia javanica (Burm.f.) Spreng. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 26; cited 2016 Sept 29]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume III E-L. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press; 2012; p.792-793.
  3. Anjarwalla P, Belmain S, Koech G, Jamnadass R, Stevenson PC. Lippia javanica (Burm.f.) Spreng. Pesticidal Plant Leaflet. 2015.
  4. Nzira L, Per M, Peter F, Claus B. Lippia javanica (Burm F) Spreng: its general constituents and bioactivity on mosquitoes. Trop Biomed. 2009;26(1):85-91.
  5. Mujovo SF, Hussein AA, Meyer JJ, Fourie B, Muthivhi T, Lall N. Bioactive compounds from Lippia javanica and Hoslundia opposita. Nat Prod Res. 2008;22(12):1047-1054.
  6. Viljoen AM, Subramoney S, van Vuuren SF, Başer KH, Demirci B. The composition, geographical variation and antimicrobial activity of Lippia javanica (Verbenaceae) leaf essential oils. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005;96(1-2):271-277.
  7. Pascual ME, Slowing K, Carretero E, Sánchez Mata D, Villar A. Lippia: Traditional uses, chemistry and pharmacology: A review. J Ethnopharmacol. 2001;76(3):201-214.