1. Family: Lamiaceae Martinov
    1. Genus: Clerodendrum L.
      1. Clerodendrum paniculatum L.

        Clerodendrum paniculatum was first described in 1767 by the ‘father’ of modern biological nomenclature – the Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus. The species epithet refers to the large ‘paniculate’ clusters of flowers (inflorescences), the feature which makes this such a visually-striking plant. The pagoda flower is commonly encountered in the Asian tropics, where it is popular as an ornamental and known for its medicinal uses.

    [KSP]

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description
    The pagoda flower, so called because of its tall, pyramidal inflorescences, is one of the most spectacular Clerodendrum species.

    Clerodendrum paniculatum was first described in 1767 by the ‘father’ of modern biological nomenclature – the Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus. The species epithet refers to the large ‘paniculate’ clusters of flowers (inflorescences), the feature which makes this such a visually-striking plant. The pagoda flower is commonly encountered in the Asian tropics, where it is popular as an ornamental and known for its medicinal uses.

    Species Profile
    Geography and distribution

    The pagoda flower is found throughout tropical and subtropical Asia, from Bangladesh to the Moluccas. It is widely cultivated and often establishes as a garden escapee in these regions, so that its original distribution is not entirely clear.

    Description

    The most distinctive features of Clerodendrum paniculatum are the large terminal inflorescences (thyrses, though often erroneously called panicles) up to 45 cm long, bearing numerous red-orange flowers. Each slender, tubular flower is 1.2–2 cm long with five small lobes, these usually being slightly paler than the tube. Butterflies are the main pollinators. They extend their long, thin proboscides into the flower tubes during which process pollen adheres to their bodies from the long-exserted stamens.

    The large, glossy, lobed leaves and fairly robust stems with an almost square cross-sectional form are also prominent characteristics of C. paniculatum . Their ability to produce root suckers allows pagoda flowers to spread vegetatively and they can form apparently clonal stands of several plants together.

    Fruits and seeds

    Clerodendrum paniculatum frequently has a high percentage of aborted pollen grains and fruit does not appear to set among the populations observed in Java, New Guinea and Sri Lanka. Kew scientist Dr James Wearn has only seen two dried specimens in fruit (collected from Peninsular Malaysia) which, when dissected, had seeds (at least developing) within their fruits. No germination tests have been carried out at Kew to date.

    Kew’s work on this species

    The pagoda flower is one of about 150 species of Clerodendrum , a large genus which is native to Africa and Asia. Clerodendrum species can be found in a range of climatic conditions and habitats, from the temperate southern regions of China to the tropical heat of Borneo, and from primary rainforest to roadside scrub. Historically, there has been much confusion regarding Clerodendrum species concepts, such that herbarium specimens and cultivated plants were frequently misidentified. In order to address this problem, Dr James Wearn and Professor David Mabberley of Kew’s Herbarium are currently undertaking research to review all of the species found in the Malesian region of southeast Asia. Clarification of this commonly-encountered genus is essential for taxonomists, ecologists and those undertaking practical conservation work.

    Find out more about Kew's Clerodendrum research

    Uses

    The pagoda flower has a number of medicinal uses in Asia. In Malaysia an infusion is drunk as a purgative and is applied externally to distended stomachs. Various magical attributes have been recorded; indeed the Malay vernacular name pangil-pangil refers directly to the ‘summoning’ of spirits. Clerodendrum paniculatum is also supposed to confer protection from harm and is used as an elephant-medicine! Substances produced by several Clerodendrum species are undergoing more rigorous scientific trials in order to evaluate their medicinal potential. To date, results are promising, and antipyretic and anti-inflammatory properties have been verified, as well as antiviral activity.

    Cultivation

    The pagoda flower was taken into cultivation throughout Indomalesia many centuries ago, as it is easy to grow in warm, humid climates and produces large inflorescences nearly all year round. Flowers of cultivated plants are usually sterile and so do not produce fruits. During the eighteenth century, novel ornamental plants from ‘the other side of the world’ were in high demand in Europe and this species was one of the earliest to reach the foremost nurseries of the time, being introduced to Britain from Java in 1809 as a greenhouse plant. It is easily propagated vegetatively and strikes readily from cuttings.

    An occasional, naturally-occurring colour form with pale lemon-yellow flowers and pedicels (previously called Clerodendrum citrinum ) has been selected due to its ornamental appeal and is grown as C. paniculatum ‘Alba’.

    Where to see this at Kew

    Although there are no live plants of Clerodendrum paniculatum currently at Kew, there are several other hardy (for example C. trichotomum near Victoria Gate) and greenhouse (for example C. speciosissimum in the Palm House) species in the Gardens.

    Many dried specimens of Clerodendrum are held in Kew’s behind-the-scenes Herbarium, where they are made available to researchers by appointment.

    Ecology
    Various, from waste-ground to rainforest, often close to fresh water.
    Conservation
    Least Concern according to IUCN Red List criteria.
    Hazards

    None known.

    [KSP]
    Use
    Ornamental. Medicinal.

    Images

    Distribution

    Found In:

    Andaman Is., Assam, Bangladesh, Bismarck Archipelago, Borneo, Cambodia, China Southeast, India, Laos, Malaya, Maluku, Myanmar, Nicobar Is., Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sulawesi, Sumatera, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam

    Introduced Into:

    Costa Rica, Fiji, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panamá, Society Is., Trinidad-Tobago

    Common Names

    English
    Pagoda flower

    Clerodendrum paniculatum L. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Identified Reference Herbarium Specimen Type Status
    Jul 26, 2011 Banyeng, Y. [57327], Malaysia K000853693
    Jan 1, 2011 Parnell [95518], Thailand K000853671
    Aug 31, 2006 Furtado, C.X. [SFN36550], Singapore K000249606
    Aug 31, 2006 Corner, E.J.H. [33527], Malaysia K000249607
    Aug 31, 2006 Corner, E.J.H. [33527], Malaysia K000249608
    Aug 31, 2006 Holttum, R.E. [SFN37385], Singapore K000249609
    Aug 31, 2006 Corner, E.J.H. [33527], Malaysia K000249610
    Aug 31, 2006 J.C. [1619], Malaysia K000249628
    Aug 31, 2006 Holttum, R.E. [SFN37385], Singapore K000249631
    Aug 31, 2006 Holttum, R.E. [SFN37385], Singapore K000249632
    Aug 31, 2006 Furtado, C.X. [SFN36550], Malaysia K000249633
    Aug 12, 2006 Jones, B.L. [252], Malaysia K000853691
    Aug 12, 2006 Jones, B.L. [252], Malaysia K000853692
    Jun 4, 1982 Sands, M.J.S. [2527], Papua New Guinea K000804943
    May 28, 1958 Shah, M. [254], Malaysia K000249630
    Otik [4925], Malaysia K000785820
    s.coll. [s.n.], Indonesia K000785821
    Horsfield, T. [s.n.], Indonesia K000785822
    Lörzing, J.A. [11875], Indonesia K000785823
    Zollinger, H. [1641], Indonesia K000785824
    Beccari, O. [1036], Malaysia K000785825
    Haviland, G.D. [s.n.], Malaysia K000785826
    Moysey, L. [SFN31054], Malaysia K000249611
    Furtado, C.X. [s.n.], Singapore K000249612
    Brooks, F.T. [1], Malaysia K000249613
    Robinson, H.C. [5706], Thailand K000249620
    Robinson, H.C. [5706], Thailand K000249621
    Gwynne Vaughan, D.T. [625], Malaysia K000249622
    Deschamps, E. [s.n.], Singapore K000249623
    Deschamps, E. [s.n.], Malaysia K000249624
    Deschamps, E. [s.n.], Malaysia K000249625
    Deschamps, E. [s.n.], Singapore K000249626
    Yapp, R.H. [98], Malaysia K000249627
    Togashi, M. [62133], Singapore K000249629
    Nur, M. [SFN32731], Malaysia K000249634
    Stevens, P.F. [LAE50136], Papua New Guinea K000804942
    Christensen, H. [1397], Malaysia K000853694
    Curtis, C. [313], Malaysia K000784871
    Wray, L. Jr. [42], Malaysia K000784872
    Dr. King's Collector [1792], Malaysia K000784873
    s.coll. [6050], Malaysia K000784874
    Griffith, W. [s.n.], Malaysia K000784875
    s.coll. [s.n.], Malaysia K000784876 Unknown type material

    First published in Mant. Pl. 1: 90 (1767)

    Accepted in:

    • [1] (2016) Phytotaxa 250: 1-431
    • [2] (2012) Flora Mesoamericana 4(2): 1-533. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, D.F.
    • [3] (2012) Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 34: 835-836
    • [4] (2011) Systematic Botany 36: 1050-1061
    • [6] (2008) Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 32: 765-781
    • [7] Nelson Sutherland, C.H. (2008) Catálogo de las plantes vasculares de Honduras. Espermatofitas . SERNA/Guaymuras, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
    • [10] Govaerts, R. (2003) World Checklist of Selected Plant Families Database in ACCESS . The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
    • [11] Govaerts, R. (1999) World Checklist of Seed Plants 3(1, 2a & 2b): 1-1532. MIM, Deurne
    • [12] Welsh, S.L. (1998) Flora Societensis . E.P.S. Inc. Utah
    • [13] (1995 publ. 1997) Gardens' Bulletin Singapore 47(2): 347-655
    • [15] Smith, A.C. (1991) Flora Vitiensis Nova. A new flora for Fiji (Spermatophytes only) 5: 1-626. Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden, Lawai

    Literature

    • [5] Yuan, Y.-W., Mabberley, D.J., Steane, D.A. & Olmstead, R.G. (2010). Further disintegration and redefinition of Clerodendrum (Lamiaceae): implications for the understanding of the evolution of an intriguing breeding strategy. Taxon 59: 125–133.
    • [8] Shrivastava, N. & Patel, T. (2007). Clerodendrum and healthcare: an overview. Medicinal Aromatic Plant Sci. and Biotech. 1: 142–150.
    • [9] Boo, C.M., Kartini, O.-H. & Ou-Yang, C.L. (2006). 1001 Garden Plants in Singapore. Second edition. National Parks Board, Singapore.
    • [14] Mabberley, D.J. (1992). Architecture of the Verbenaceae of Madang Province, Papua New Guinea, with preliminary notes on their reproductive biology. Sci. New Guinea 19: 37-45.
    • [16] Burkill, I.H. (1966). A Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula. Revised reprint. Vol. 1. Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Kuala Lumpur.

    Sources

    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (2017). Published on the internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp
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