Piper umbellatum

Piper umbellatum




Piper subpeltatum Wind., Heckeria umbellata (L.) Kunth, Pothomorphe umbellata (L.) Miq., Pothomorphe sub-peltata (Willd.) Miq.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Lemba, lomba.
Indonesia Tombo (Javanese), sak-masakan (Madurese), lomba (Moluccas).
Philippines Kubamba (Tagalog), balai (Bontok), bayag-bayag (Cebu Bisaya).
Thailand Phluu teen chaang, rok chaang (Peninsular), haan mu (Northern).
Vietnam L[aa]n hoa.

Geographical Distributions

P. umbellatum originates from Mexico and South America, and has been introduced and widely naturalised throughout the Old World tropics, including Southeast Asia.


This is a perennial scrambling shrub or woody herb that reaches 1-2.5(-4) m tall. The stem is numerous, succulent, ribbed, forming a dense clump, rooting at the nodes while the main roots are woody.

Leaves are arranged alternate, almost circular to kidney-shaped, 5-36(-40) cm x 4.5-37(-42) cm. Its base is deeply heart-shaped with its apex shortly acuminate to rounded. The leaf margin is entire or wedge-shaped, fairly thin, glandular black translucent glands, sparsely to densely hairy on the veins on both sides of the leaf blade. The leaf blade is dark-green on the above-side and greyish underneath. The palmate veins are 11-15 in number. The 6.5-30 cm long stalk is dilated and sheathing at the base.

Inflorescence emerges from the axils or leaf-opposed spike, 5.5-15 cm long. 2-8 inflorescences are attached together in false umbels. 1-3 peduncles are joined together, each 3-12 cm long. The peduncular bracts are narrow, 6-8 mm long, white and fall off at maturity. The flowers are small and bisexual.  The floral bracts are triangular to rounded, 0.5-0.8 mm wide. The flower is not located near the edge of stalk. The margins are fringed; white, cream or yellow in colour. Floral leaf is absent. It has 2 stamens. The ovary is superior,  1-locular with 3 stigmas.

The brownish fruit is a drupe, obpyramidal, 3-angled, 0.6-1 mm x 0.4-0.6 mm.

The seed is spherical, the endosperm is small and its perisperm copious with small embryo.

Ecology / Cultivation

P. umbellatum occurs in always in damp locations in evergreen forest undergrowth, swamp forest, on river banks, old rubber plantations, from 150-2100 m altitude.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2.