Coleus Lour.

Coleus amboinicus Lour.

This species is accepted, and its native range is Kenya to S. Africa, Arabian Peninsula, India. It is used to treat unspecified medicinal disorders, as animal food and a medicine, has environmental uses and social uses and for food.

Biogeografic region: Andean, Caribbean, Pacific. Elevation range: 0–1700 m a.s.l. Cultivated in Colombia. Naturalised in Colombia. Colombian departments: Atlántico, Bogotá DC, Bolívar, Boyacá, Caldas, Cauca, Cesar, Córdoba, Cundinamarca, Guainía, Huila, Magdalena, Nariño, Quindío, Risaralda, San Andrés y Providencia, Santander, Tolima.
Herb, Subshrub.
Habitat according IUCN Habitats Classification: forest and woodland, savanna, artificial - terrestrial.


Bernal, R., G. Galeano, A. Rodríguez, H. Sarmiento y M. Gutiérrez. 2017. Nombres Comunes de las Plantas de Colombia.

guiso, orégano, orégano orejón, poleo orejón


Lamiaceae (Labiatae), A.J. Paton, G. Bramley, O. Ryding, R.M. Polhill, Y.B. Harvey, M. Iwarsson, F. Willis, P.B. Phillipson, K. Balkwill, C.W. Lukhoba, D.F. Otieno, & R.M. Harley. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 2009

Types: Rumphius plate in Herb. Amb. 5, t. 102/2 (1750) (lectotype illustration!, chosen by Cramer, loc. cit. (1978)) epitype, chosen by Suddee & Paton in K.B. 59 (2004) (1968): Thailand, Pai District: Mae Hong Son, 25 May 1921, Kerr s.n. (BM!, epitype)
Morphology General Habit
Aromatic succulent perennial herb, 0.3–0.5 m tall, to 1.5 m if scandent
Morphology Stem
Stems rounded-quadrangular below, quadrangular above, sometimes purplish above, decumbent to scandent, succulent, somewhat brittle, pubescent with patent and retrorse, glandular and eglandular hairs and pale sessile glands, becoming moreglandular on the inflorescence axis
Morphology Leaves
Leaves spreading, succulent, petiolate; blades ovate, (1–)2–5.5 × 1.5–3.5 cm, crenate, weakly revolute, apex obtuse to rounded, base attenuate or truncate to cordate and attenuate at petiole, pubescent to tomentose, with pale sessile glands; petiole 2–13 mm
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence terminal, lax with ± 10–20flowered verticils up to 20(–30) mm apart with each bract subtending a 5–10flowered sessile cyme; bracts ovate, apiculate, 3–5 mm long, erect above forming an inconspicuous apical coma, deciduous by fruiting stage, pubescent on margins and abaxial surface, glabrous or much less densely hairy on adaxial surface; pedicels 1–2(–4) mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx 3 mm long, pubescent to villose with patent glandular and eglandular hairs and with pale sessile glands; fruiting calyx 4–6 mm long, straight, short with pedicel centrally to calyx base; throat truncate; posterior lip oblong, hooded, horizontal, not decurrent; lobes of anterior lip equal, lanceolate, subulate at apex
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla pinkish white or pale violet, 4–9(–15) mm long, densely pubescent, with pale sessile glands, particularly on lobes; tube 3–6 mm long, sigmoid; posterior lip shorter than anterior, anterior lip 3–5 (5–10) mm long, horizontal, shallowly cucullate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Staminal filaments fused, exceeding the anterior lip
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Nutlets brown shiny with reddish dots, broadly ovoid, flattened, 1 mm long, producing lots of mucilage speckled on outer surface.
Acacia and Commiphora bushland, wooded grassland, often in dry rocky places; 30–1400 m
Least concern; widely distributed
Plectranthus sp. A sensu U.K.W.F.: 635 (1974)Typical plants have pedicels around 2 mm long and corollas to 9 mm long. Some populations from the Taita Hills have pedicels 3–4 mm long and corollas to 15 mm long. Longer pedicels are also seen in specimens from T 6 and Angola, but the corolla in these cases is less than 9 mm long. These differences represent extremes in the continuous variation of these characters. Some Taita Hill populations produce lateral or terminal rosettes of leaves with mucronate leaf apices. Further work is necessary to clarify taxon circumscription within this complex.
Range: Angola, Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa, widely cultivated in Old and New World tropics Flora districts: K2 K3 K4 K6 K7 T2 T3 T6 Z


Suddee, S., A. J. Paton, & Parnell, J. (2004). A Taxonomic Revision of Tribe Ocimeae Dumort. (Lamiaceae) in Continental South East Asia II. Plectranthinae. Kew Bulletin, 59(3), 379-414. doi:10.2307/4110950

Possibly native to India (Keng 1978). Widely cultivated in the tropics.
Cultivated, sometimes naturalised; sea level up to 1500 m.
Morphology General Habit
Erect or ascending perennial herbs up to 1 m tall, strongly aromatic. Stems branched, round or round- quadrangular, hollow when old, glabrescent below, pubescent to villous above, with simple and gland- tipped hairs
Morphology Leaves
Leaves fleshy, orbicular or broadly ovate, 35 - 50 x 25 - 55 mm, apex rounded or obtuse, base round or truncate, margin crenate, hirsute above, pubescent to tomentose beneath, veins conspicuous beneath; petioles 5-25 mm long, pubescent to villous
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens united to half their length, long-exserted from anterior corolla lip
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx campanulate, 2 - 3 mm long at anthesis, 4- 6 mm long in fruit; posterior lip oblong, twice as long as anterior lip, acute at apex, margin ciliate, not decurrent on tube, hirsute on both sides; anterior lip with teeth minute, acuminate, subequal in length, hirsute; tube 10-nerved, densely hirsute outside, gibbous at anterior base
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla purple, 8 - 12 mm long; posterior lip densely pubescent on back, median lobes rounded at apex, much larger than the acute-obtuse lateral lobes; anterior lip ovate-oblong, 5 - 6 mm long, glabrous inside, subvillous outside; tube 4- 5 mm long, sigmoid below the middle, slightly dilated at base, widely expanded at throat, densely pubescent with sessile glands outside
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Disc
Disc with anterior side obtuse or truncate at apex, not exceeding ovary
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Style
Style bifid with equal slender branches, subequal to anterior stamens
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Nutlets brown, globose or ovoid, c. 1 mm long, minutely tuberculate or smooth and shining, producing mucilage when wet.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence terminal, simple, up to 30 cm long; axis pubescent to villous; verticils 5 - 20 mm apart; cymes sessile, dense, glomerulate, several-flowered; bracts sessile, caducous, ovate or lanceolate, up to 7 x 5 mm, acuminate, shortly ciliate, pubescent; pedicels 1 - 3 mm long at anthesis, 1.5 - 7 mm long in fruit, pubescent
Flowering & fruiting May - December.
Rumphius Ic. in Herb. Amb. 5: t. 102, f 2 (1750) (lectotype illustration!, chosen by Cramer 1978); Epitype: Thailand, Mae Hong Son, Pai Distr., 25 May 1921, Kerr s.n. (BM!, epitype chosen by Launert 1968).
Cambodian: Chi Tra, Sak Dam Ray. Thai: Hawm Duan Luang, Bai Hu Soea, Niam Hu Soea. Vietnamese: Rau Thom Lun, Rau Cang.


The Useful Plants of Boyacá project

Alt. 0 - 1700 m.
Cultivated and naturalised in Colombia.
Morphology General Habit
Herb or subshrub.
Not Evaluated.


Bernal, R., Gradstein, S.R. & Celis, M. (eds.). 2015. Catálogo de plantas y líquenes de Colombia. Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá.

Cultivada y naturalizada en Colombia; Alt. 0 - 1700 m.; Andes, Islas Caribeñas, Llanura del Caribe, Pacífico, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Valle del Cauca, Valle del Magdalena.
Morphology General Habit
Hierba, subarbusto

Found in Boyacá, Colombia.

Use Animal Food
Used as animal food.
Use Environmental
Environmental uses.
Use Gene Sources
Used as gene sources.
Use Food
Used for food.
Use Materials
Used as material.
Use Medicines
Medical uses.
Use Social
Social uses.

The fresh leaves are used in beef salad in Thailand. This species is commonly cultivated in South East Asia but rarely produces flowers there.

Use Medicines Unspecified Medicinal Disorders
Medicinal (State of the World's Plants 2016).

Native to:

Angola, Burundi, India, Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Yemen

Introduced into:

Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil Northeast, Cambodia, Colombia, Comoros, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Fiji, Florida, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Jawa, Leeward Is., Lesser Sunda Is., Madagascar, Maluku, Marquesas, Mexico Northeast, Nicaragua, Niue, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Sumatera, Taiwan, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad-Tobago, Venezuela, Vietnam, Wallis-Futuna Is., Windward Is.

Coleus amboinicus Lour. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status Has image?
Jan 1, 1964 s.coll. [s.n.], Indonesia K000888274 No
Powell, D.A. [XI1366], Australia K000888273 No
Horsfield, T. [s.n.], Indonesia K000888272 No
s.coll. [Cat. no. 2730] Coleus aromaticus K001116969 Yes
s.coll. [Cat. no. 2730] Coleus aromaticus K001116968 Yes
s.coll. [Cat. no. 2730], India Coleus aromaticus K001116967 Yes
s.coll. [Cat. no. 2731] Coleus crassifolius K001116970 Unknown type material Yes
Jun 1, 2013 Mwangoka [5658], Tanzania Plectranthus amboinicus K000938034 No
Jun 1, 2013 Robertson [7574], Kenya Plectranthus amboinicus K000938036 No
Dec 1, 2012 Hemp [5652], Tanzania Plectranthus amboinicus K000735697 No
Jan 1, 2011 Hopkins H. [370], Seychelles Plectranthus amboinicus K000249969 No
Jan 1, 2010 Boom [9830], Puerto Rico Plectranthus amboinicus K000735112 No
Jan 1, 2010 Boom [9930], Puerto Rico Plectranthus amboinicus K000735113 No
Feb 13, 2008 Hiep, N.T. et al. [3849], Vietnam Plectranthus amboinicus K000479730 No
Sep 1, 2007 Laizer, al. [1532], Tanzania Plectranthus amboinicus K000248156 No
Jan 1, 2001 Merrill, E. D. [129], Philippines Plectranthus amboinicus K000897772 neotype Yes
Tweedie, E.M. [4254], Kenya Plectranthus amboinicus 34137.000 No
Welwitsch [5556], Angola Plectranthus amboinicus K000431989 Yes
de Menezes, A. [407], Angola Plectranthus amboinicus K001008897 Yes
Volkens, G. [321], Tanzania Plectranthus amboinicus K000431981 Yes
Merrill, E.D. [s.n.], Philippines Plectranthus amboinicus K000897770 No
Ramos, M. [36950], Philippines Plectranthus amboinicus K000897771 No
Gossweiler, J. [4479], Angola Plectranthus amboinicus K001008896 Yes

First published in Fl. Cochinch.: 372 (1790)

Accepted by

  • Paton, A.J., Mwanyambo, M. Govaerts, R.H.A., Smitha, K., Suddee, S., Phillipson, P.B., Wilson, T.C., Forster, P.I. & Culham, A. (2019). Nomenclatural changes in Coleus and Plectranthus (Lamiaceae): A tale of more than two genera PhytoKeys 129: 1-158.

Not accepted by

  • Govaerts, R. (1999). World Checklist of Seed Plants 3(1, 2a & 2b): 1-1532. MIM, Deurne. [Cited as Plectranthus amboinicus.]
  • Govaerts, R. (2003). World Checklist of Selected Plant Families Database in ACCESS: 1-216203. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. [Cited as Plectranthus amboinicus.]


Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Acevedo-Rodríguez, P. & Strong, M.T. (2012). Catalogue of seed plants of the West Indies Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 98: 1-1192.
  • Bernal, R., Gradstein, R.S. & Celis, M. (eds.) (2016). Catálogo de plantas y líquenes de Colombia 1-2: 1-3068. Libro impreso.
  • Bramley, G.L.C. (2019). Flora Malesiana 23: 1-444. Noordhoff-Kolff N.V., Djakarta.
  • Davidse, G. & al. (eds.) (2012). Flora Mesoamericana 4(2): 1-533. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, D.F.
  • Figueiredo, E. & Smith, G.F. (2008). Plants of Angola Strelitzia 22: 1-279. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
  • Hokche, O., Berry, P.E. & Huber, O. (eds.) (2008). Nuevo Catálogo de la Flora Vascular de Venezuela: 1-859. Fundación Instituto Botánico de Venezuela.
  • Khanam, M. & Hassan, M.A. (2008). Lamiaceae Flora of Bangladesh 58: 1-161. Bangladesh National Herbarium, Dhaka.
  • Kuo, M.L. (ed.) (2012). Flora of Taiwan, ed. 2, Suppl.: 1-414. Editorial Committee of the Flora of Taiwan, Second Edition, National Taiwan University.
  • Lorence, D.H. & Wagnwe, W.L. (2020). Flora of the Marquesas Islands 2: 413-1135. National Tropical Botanic Garden, Smithsonian, DRPF.
  • Morat, P. & Veillon, J.-M. (1985). Contributions à la conaissance de la végétation et de la flore de Wallis et Futuna Bulletin du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle. Section B, Adansonia 7: 259-329.
  • Paton, A.J., Bramley, G., Ryding, O., Polhill, R., Harvey, Y., Iwarsson, M., Willis, F., Phillipson, P., Balkwill, K., Lukhoba, C., Otiend, D & Harley (2009). Lamiaceae (Labiatae) Flora of Tropical East Africa: 1-430.
  • Smith, A.C. (1991). Flora Vitiensis Nova. A new flora for Fiji (Spermatophytes only) 5: 1-626. Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden, Lawai.
  • Wiriadinata, H., Girmansyah, D., Hunter, J.M., Hoover, W.S. & Kartawinata, K. (2013). Floristic study of West Sumbawa, Indonesia Reinwardtia 13: 391-404.
  • Yuncker, T.G. (1959). Plants of Tonga Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin 220: 1-283.

Useful Plants and Fungi of Colombia

  • Bernal, R., Gradstein, S.R., & Celis, M. (eds.). (2020). Catálogo de Plantas y Líquenes de Colombia. v1.1. Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Dataset/Checklist.
  • Cámara-Leret, R., & Dennehy, Z. (2019). Information gaps in indigenous and local knowledge for science-policy assessments. Nature Sustainability 2:736-741.
  • Diazgranados et al. (2021). Catalogue of plants of Colombia. Useful Plants and Fungi of Colombia project. In prep.
  • FPI (2021). Food Plants International.
  • (2021). GBIF species matching tool.
  • GRIN (2021). Germplasm Resources Information Network from the United States Department of Agriculture.
  • Medicinal Plant Names Services (MPNS) v.10 (2021);
  • PROTA (2021). Plants Resources of Tropical Africa.
  • Willis, K.J. (ed.) (2017). State of the World’s Plants 2017. Report. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

  • Catálogo de Plantas y Líquenes de Colombia

  • Flora of Tropical East Africa

    Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

  • Kew Backbone Distributions

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

  • Kew Bulletin

    Kew Bulletin

  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

  • Kew Science Photographs

    Copyright applied to individual images

  • Universidad Nacional de Colombia

    ColPlantA database

  • Useful Plants and Fungi of Colombia

  • Useful Plants of Boyacá Project

    ColPlantA database