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Blumea balsamifera

Blumea balsamifera




Blumea appendiculata (Blume) DC., Blumea grandis (Wallich) DC., Blumea zollingeriana C.B. Clarke.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Chapa, chapor, sembong.
English Ngai camphor plant.
Indonesia Sembung, capa (Indonesian), sembung gantung (Javanese),sembungutan (Sundanese).
Philippines Sambong (Tagalog), lakadbulan (Bikol), subsub (Ilocano).
Burma (Myanmar) Poung-ma-theing.
Cambodia Bai mat.
Laos ‘nat, phi ma ‘sen.

Kam phung (Northern), naat-yai (Central), naat (South-eastern).

Vietnam D[aj]i bi, t[uwf] bi, b[aw]ng mai phi[ees]n.
French Camphrier.

Geographical Distributions

B. balsamifera occurs from India to Indo-China, southern China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. It is also cultivated widely throughout East and South-East Asia.


It is a shrub or sometimes herb that can reach up to 4 m tall. The stems are erect and densely woolly-villous.

The 6-30 cm x 1.5-12 cm leaves are usually narrowly oblong-lance-shaped or sometimes oblong-egg-shaped with tapered base. The margin is entire, serrate, serrulate to pinnately lobed. It is wrinkled and hairy with long soft hairs on the top surface and densely silky-woolly underneath. The stalk is sometimes absent.

The aggregated flowers are in large axils or terminal panicles. The flower stalk is 3-10 mm long combined into the 7-9 mm long, linear and densely woolly ring. The marginal flowers are up to 6-ribbed and about 1 mm long, the fruits are hairy, 4-6 mm long, whitish or reddish-yellow. 

Ecology / Cultivation

B. balsamifera grows naturally along roadsides, in upland fields, fields infested with Imperata, and natural grazing lands, brushwood and forest, including bamboo and teak forests and sometimes in wet places on river banks, from sea level up to 2200 m altitude. It sometimes grows gregariously and hardly tolerates shade. It is often considered a weed, but is easily eradicated. B. balsamifera is frequently found in regularly burned grassland, as it readily sprouts from underground parts after the leaves and branches have been killed by fire.

Line Drawing / Photograph


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  1) Safety

  2) Malaysian Herbal Plants


  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 19: Essential-oil plants.

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