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Plumbago zeylanica



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Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in Burmese:


Common Names in Chinese:

Bai Hua Dan, 烏面馬

Common Names in English:

Chitra, Ceylon Leadwort, Chitrak, Doctorbush, Lauhihi, Leadwort, Plumbago, White Leadwort, Wild Leadwort, Wild Plumbago

Common Names in Oriya:



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Family Plumbaginaceae

Shrublets , shrubs , or herbs. Stems striate or reduced to a caudex . Leaves simple , alternate or basal, sessile or petiolate but petiole usually indistinct from blade ; stipules absent; leaf blade entire or rarely pinnately lobed , with chalk glands on both surfaces. Inflorescences terminal or axillary , unbranched or branched, spicate , spicate-racemose, subcapitate , capitate, or paniculate , arranged into complanate spikes if branched, all composed of 1--10 or more cymules or helicoid cymes; cymules or helicoid cymes usually known as spikelets , 1--5-flowered; bracts 1 at base of each spikelet; bractlets 1 or 2 at base of each flower. Flowers bisexual , actinomorphic , sessile or very shortly pedicellate . Calyx persistent , hypogynous, tubular to funnelform , 5-ribbed, 5-lobed. Corolla hypogynous, petals connate but sometimes only at base, lobes or segments 5 and twisted. Stamens opposite corolla lobes, hypogynous or inserted at corolla base; anthers 2-locular, dehiscing longitudinally. Pistil 1. Ovary superior, 1-locular. Styles 5, free or connate. Stigmas 5. Ovule 1, pendulous from a basal funicle. Capsules usually enclosed within calyx. Seeds 1 per capsule; embryo straight, surrounded by thin starchy endosperm.

About 25 genera and 440 species: worldwide, main diversity in C Asia and Mediterranean region; seven genera and 46 species (11 endemic) in China.[1]

Genus Plumbago

Plants perennial shrubs or suffrutescent herbs; roots not known. Stems erect , prostrate , or climbing , ribbed . Leaves cauline, sessile or short-petiolate (petiole usually less than 1.5 cm) ; blade elliptic to oblanceolate or spatulate , base narrowed, margins entire, apex acute, acuminate, or obtuse , membranaceous . Inflorescences terminal or axillary spikelike racemes or panicles. Pedicels 2-bracteolate, short. Flowers sometimes heterostylous, short-pedicellate; bracts absent; calyx persistent , 5-ribbed, tubular , with stalked , capitate-glandular protuberances along ribs ; lobes triangular, 1-2 mm; corolla salverform , evenly to somewhat unevenly 5-lobed, lobes spreading , obovate , round , or truncate , mucronate ; stamens included or exserted, free from corolla; style 1 included or exserted; stigmas 5, linear . Fruits capsules, included, brownish, long-beaked; valves coherent at apex. x = 7.

Species 12; tropical and subtropical regions, North America, Central America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa.

Several species of Plumbago are cultivated, including P. auriculata. The entire plant of that species, especially the root, contains plumbagin, a toxic naphthoquinone derivative (oil of plumbago), which may cause severe skin irritation or blistering in humans and may also be toxic to other animals (T. C. Fuller and E. McClintock 1986).

The remarkable glands on the calyces of Plumbago are often called glandular hairs , but they are not true hairs, being much more massive and multicellular structures with enlarged, capitate apices.[2]

Physical Description

Species Plumbago zeylanica

Plants herbaceous. Stems prost-rate, climbing , or erect , glabrous . Leaves petiolate (to 1.5 cm) or sessile; blade ovate , lance-elliptic, or spatulate to oblanceolate , (3-) 5-9(-15) × (1-) 2.5-4(-7) cm, base attenuate, apex acute, acuminate, or obtuse . Inflorescences 3-15(-30) cm, rachises glandular , viscid ; floral bracts lanceolate, 3-7 × 1-2 mm. Flowers heterostylous; calyx 7-11(-13) mm, tube glabrous but with stalked glands along length of ribs ; corolla white, 17-33 mm, tube 12.5-28 mm (less than 2 times length of calyx), lobes 5-12 × 3-3.5 mm; stamens included . Capsules 7.5-8 mm. Seeds reddish brown to dark brown, 5-6 mm. [source]

Plumbago zeylanica and P. scandens, both Linnaean species , have heretofore been treated as distinct , the former name applied exclusively to Old World plants , the latter to New World specimens. John Edmondson (pers. comm. ) indicates that he believes this œcould be a classic case of New World and Old World taxonomists each doing their own thing. Plants in herbaria under these two names appear indistinguishable. [source]

Habit: Shrub , Subshrub , Vine

Flowers: Bloom Period: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December. • Flower Color: light blue, near white, white


Size: 36-48" tall.


Palm groves, thickets, shady hummocks, shell mounds, rocky places in open areas; 0-50 m [3].


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Duration: Perennial


Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Sun to Partial Shade.

Temperature: Cold Hardiness: 10a, 10b, 11. (map)


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Plumbago scandens Linnaeus


Publishing author : L. Publication : Species Plantarum 1753 (1 May 1753)

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Plumbago

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 10 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus:

P. auriculata (Blue Plumbago) · P. auriculata f. alba (White Cape Leadwort) · P. auriculata 'Alba' (Cape Leadwort) · P. auriculata 'Imperial Blue' (Cape Leadwort) · P. auriculata 'Monite' (White Cape® Plumbago) · P. auriculata 'Monott' (Cape Leadwort) · P. auriculata 'Royal Cape' (Cape Leadwort) · P. indica (Chekkikotuveri) · P. scandens (Devils Herb) · P. zeylanica (Chitra)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal November 15, 2007:



  1. Tse-Hsiang Pen & Rudolf V. Kamelin "Plumbaginaceae". in Flora of China Vol. 15 Page 190. Published by Science Press (Beijing) and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
  2. Alan R. Smith "Plumbago". in Flora of North America Vol. 5. Oxford University Press. Online at [back]
  3. "Plumbago zeylanica". in Flora of North America Vol. 5. Oxford University Press. Online at [back]
Last Revised: 2015-01-30