Rhodomyrtus tomentosa (Aiton) Hassk

Last updated: 2 June 2016

Scientific Name                                                                                

Rhodomyrtus tomentosa (Aiton) Hassk 


Cynomyrtus tomentosa (Aiton) Scriv., Myrtus canescens Lour., Myrtus tomentosa Aiton, Rhodomyrtus tomentosa var. tomentosa. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Kemunting [2], karmunting (Sabah and Sarawak) [3]; lidah katak (Melayu Sarawak); keremunting [4]
English Hill guava, rose myrtle [2], hill gooseberry, downy myrtle [3], Ceylon hill-cherry, downy rose myrtle [5]
China Shan ren zi, tao jin niang [2], tao-jin-niang-ye, toe-gum-leung-yip [6]
India Havatte, kirattan, koratta, kuratta, tavante, tavuti, thaontay, thaonty, thavattukoyya, thavithu
Indonesia Kemunting (Java) [3]
Thailand Thoh [3]
Cambodia Puëch, sragan [3]
Vietnam Hong sim, pieu nim, sim [2], phruat, phruat-kinluk [3]
Japan Satagi-ima, tennin-kan [2]
Sudan Harendong sabrang [3]
Spain Guayabillo forastero [5]

Geographical Distributions

Rhodomyrtus tomentosa is widely distributed at China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippine. [5]

Botanical Description

R. tomentosa is a member of the Mytaceae family. It is a small shrub or tree growing up to 4 m tall.

The leaves are opposite, light green in colour, elliptic or obovate in shape, measuring 1.4-4 cm wide and 2.5-8.0 cm long, smooth on the adaxial surface and tomentose on the abaxial surface.

The flowers may be solitary or up to five and occur in leaf axils, with a long peduncle measuring 1-2.5 cm. They have a calyx that is campanulate and hairy, five petals and numerous stamens. The flowers are red to pink in colour.

The fruit is an ellipsoid berry that measures 1-1.5 cm in diameter and purplish black or greenish purple in colour with a persistent calyx.

The pulp is purplish in colour, soft and sweet and there are many seeds that measure 1.5 mm in diameter. [3]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

R. tomentosa has been reported to contain α-amyrin, β-amyrenonol, β-amyrin, betulin, lupcol, nicotinic acid, riboflavin, taraxerol, thiamine, vitamin A; rhodomyrtone; 4,8,9,10-tetrahydroxy-2,3,7-trimethoxyanthracene-6-O-β-D-glucopyranoside, 2,4,7,8,9,10-hexahydroxy-3-methoxyanthracene-6-O-α-L-rhamnopyranoside. [6][7][8]

Plant Part Used

Roots, leaves, and fruits [4][6]

Traditional Use

The roots and leaves of R. tomentosa are used for the treatment of acute and chronic gastroenteritis, stomach ache, dyspepsia and hepatitis in China. The roots are also used to treat proctopsis by Chinese traditional doctors. In Malaysia decoction of the roots and sometimes the leaves is given to patients with diarrheal or heartburns. [4][6]

In China and Hong Kong the roots of R. tomentosa is used to treat uterine bleeding while the fruits are given to pregnant ladies to treat anaemia of pregnancy. Decoction of the root is given to women after birth in the village medicine of the Malays. [4][6]

The decoction of the roots of R. tomentosa is used by Chinese and Malay traditional practitioners to treat low back ache, rheumatic arthritis, lumbago. To treat skin infection like impetigo, furunculosis and abscesses a paste of the leaves is applied over the lesion. Decoction of the leaves is considered antiseptic and is used to clean wounds. [4][6][9][10]

It’s used had been advocated for corneal injury, debility after illnesses, neurasthenia, tinnitus, headaches, bleeding wounds, spermatorrhoea, and even snake bites. [4][6][9][10]

Preclinical Data


Antibacterial activity

Studies reported that extracts of R. tomentosa was able to prevent the formation of biofilm and strong inhibition of quorum sensing in Streptococcus pyogenes. [11] In a more recent study they were successful in isolating rhodomyrtone which showed antibacterial activity against Bacillus cereus, Bacillus subtilis, Enterococcus faecalis, Staphylococcus aureus, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), Staphylococcus epidermidis, Streptococcus gordonii, Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Streptococcus salivarius. [7]

Stimulation of osteoblasts activity

Two new anthracene glycosides isolated from the aerial parts of R. tomentosa reported increased alkaline phosphatase activity, collagen synthesis and mineralization of the nodules of MC3T3-E1 osteoblastic cells. [8]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Rhodomyrtus tomentosa (Aiton) Hassk. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 June 2]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-178177.
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume V R-Z. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 40-41.
  3. Janick J, Pau RE. The encyclopedia of fruit and nuts. Oxfordshire: CABI, 2008; p. 550.
  4. Mat-salleh K, Latiff A. Tumbuhan ubatan Malaysia. Selangor, Malaysia: Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 2002; p. 429-430.
  5. US National Plant Germplasm System. Rhodomyrtus tomentosa. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [cited 2016 June 2]. Available from: https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxonomydetail.aspx?id=31664.
  6. Sung CK, Kimura T, Paul But PH, Guo J-X. International collation of traditional and folk medicine: Northeast Asia – Part III. Singapore: World Scientific, 1998; p. 89.
  7. Limsuwan S, Trip EN, Kouwen TR, et al. Rhodomyrtone: A new candidate as natural antibacterial drug from Rhodomyrtus tomentosa. Phytomedicine. 2009;16(6-7):645-651.
  8. Tung NH, Ding Y, Choi EM, Van Kiem P, Van Minh C, Kim YH. New anthracene glycosides from Rhodomyrtus tomentosa stimulate osteoblastic differentiation of MC3T3-E1 cells. Arch Pharm Res. 2009;32(4):515-520.
  9. Koh HL, Kian CT, Tan CH. A guide to medicinal plants: An illustrated, scientific and medicinal approach. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, 2009; p. 129-130.
  10. World Health organization, Regional Office for the Western Pacific. Medicinal plants in Viet Nam. Manila: World Health Organization, Regional Office for the Western Pacific, 1990; p. 164.
  11. Limsuwan S, Voravuthikunchai SP. Boesenbergia pandurata (Roxb.) Schltr., Eleutherine americana Merr. and Rhodomyrtus tomentosa (Aiton) Hassk. as antibiofilm producing and antiquorum sensing in Streptococcus pyogenes. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2008;53(3):429-436.