Vitex trifolia

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Related Links
Habit at S Casey Key Florida
© Forest & Kim Starr
Fruit at S Casey Key Florida
© Forest & Kim Starr

Local names:
Filipino (hand of Mary,dangla), Indonesian (galumi), Malay (lenggundi), Thai (khon thiso), Vietnamese (m[aj]n kinh)

Vitex trifolia is a shrub up to 6 m tall, leaflets (1-)3, glabrous above (except for the midrib), densely greyish puberulous below.

Median leaflet oblong-elliptical to obovate, 2.5-9.5 cm x 1.5-4 cm, with 6-13 pairs of lateral veins, on a 1-6 mm long petiolule, lateral leaflets sessile or subsessile.

Cymes terminal and axillary, arranged in panicles; calyx 3-5 mm long, obscurely 2-lipped, with 5 small teeth, corolla blue to purple or violet, throat villous inside. 

Fruit globose to ovoid, 5-6 mm long, black or bluish-black when mature.

V. negundo closely resembles V. trifolia but can be distinguished by its long-petioluled median leaflet and 3-5 leaflets.


V. trifolia is found in teak forest, secondary forest and thickets up to 1100 m altitude, but also in mangrove forest and along the shore.  The phenotypic variation observed between these habitats is given specific or sub-specific rank by various authors.

Native range
Afghanistan, Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, New Caledonia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam

Tree management



V. trifolia is found in teak forest, secondary forest and thickets up to 1100 m altitude, but also in mangrove forest and along the shore.  The phenotypic variation observed between these habitats is given specific or sub-specific rank by various authors.

Germination of V. trifolia seed is reported to be difficult.

Poison:  Oils from the leaves of V. trifolia show considerable mosquito repellent activity.  The active principle in the leaves of V. trifolia has been identified as rotundinal, a cycloterpene aldehyde. V. trifolia shows considerable potential as a botanical pesticide that may be applied both indoors and outdoors.

Medicine: A poultice of leaves is used to treat rheumatism, contusions, swollen testicles, and as a discutient in sprains.  An infusion of the boiled roots is regarded as diaphoretic and diuretic, and is widely drunk in cases of fever and after childbirth.  In Malaysia, various parts of the plants are considered a panacea for a wide variety of illnesses ranging from headache to tuberculosis.  In Indonesia, the leaves are used in medicinal baths and a tincture or decoction of them for intestinal complaints, whereas the fruits are used as an anthelmintic.  In the Bismarck Archipelago, the sap from crushed heated leaves is diluted with water and drunk to relieve headaches.  In Vietnam, a decoction of dried fruits is given in the treatment of common cold, headache, watery eyes and mastitis.  In Thailand, the fruits are used to treat asthmatic cough and haemorrhoids, and the root is applied in the treatment of liver diseases.  An ethanol extract (50%) of V. trifolia shows antispasmodic and antihistamine properties.  A crude drug extract of V. trifolia leaves mediated a significant increase in lifespan in mice bearing sarcoma 180 cells, indicating potential antitumour activity.

Ornamental: V. trifolia are widely cultivated as ornamentals.

V. trifolia is often used as a hedge plant, altough it may trigger various allergic reactions (sneezing, respiratory problems, dizziness, headache, nausea) to people trimming or pruning such hedges.

Essential oil: The essential oil contains several terpenes, including cineol, terpineol and alpha-pinene.