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Lawsonia inermis L.

Lawsonia inermis L.




Lawsonia spinosa L., Lawsonia alba Lamk.

Vernacular Names


Pacar kuku, inai, hinna.


Henna, Egyptian privet, camphire.


Inai (General), pacar kuku (Javanese).


Cinamomo (Tagalog).








Thian khaao, thian daeng, thian king.


Lá mòn, nhuôm móng tay.



Geographical Distributions

Lawsonia inermis occurs wild from Iran to western India. From there, it has been spread eastward to the rest of India and Indonesia, and westward to the Middle East where it became one of the most important plants of Islam. It later followed Islamic armies and traders from Arabia reaching as far as Spain, Madagascar, the Moluccas, Indo-China and Japan. It is now distributed throughout the tropics and subtropics. Henna is mostly grown in home gardens and commercial production is limited to a few places in India, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya, and the Sudan.


Lawsonia inermis is a much-branched, hairless shrub or small tree that can grow up to 2-6 m tall, with greyish-brown bark and unarmed when young. The older plants are with spine-tipped branchlets. The young branches are quadrangular.

The leaves are arranged opposite, entire and subsessile, elliptic to broadly lance-shaped, measuring 1.5-5 cm x 0.5-2 cm and acuminate.

The flowers are numerous in large, pyramidal, terminal cymes, fragrant, measure 1 cm across and 4-merous. The sepal is with tube 2 mm long and spreading lobes 3 mm long while the petals are orbicular or obovate, white or red. There are 8 stamens that are inserted in pairs on the rim of the sepal tube. The ovary is 4-celled, with style up to 5 mm long and erect.

The fruit is a spherical capsule, measure 4-8 mm in diametre, many-seeded and opens irregularly. The seeds are 3 mm across, angular and with a thick seed coat.

Ecology / Cultivation

Lawsonia inermis requires high temperatures for germination, growth and development. It is adapted to a wide range of conditions. It tolerates poor, stony and sandy soils, but is also well-adapted to heavy, fertile clay soils. Low air humidity and drought are tolerated.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No.3: Dye and Tannin-Producing Plants.

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