Botanical Name: Clerodendrum paniculatum
Family: Lamiaceae/ Verbenaceae (Verbena family)
Species: C. paniculatum
Common Names: Pagoda flower, Krishna Kireedam (in Tamil)
Habitat : Pagoda flower or Clerodendrum paniculatum is native to tropical Asia and Papuasia (southern China including Taiwan, Indochina, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Borneo, Sulawesi, Sumatra, Philippines, Bismarck Archipelago). It is reportedly naturalized in India, Fiji, French Polynesia, and Central America.
Pagoda flower is an erect, open semiwoody shrub with large evergreen leaves and huge showy clusters of orange-red or scarlet flowers held above the foliage. The plant sometimes has many stems and gets 3-5 ft tall, spreading 2-3 ft across. Oppositely arranged ovate leaves have heart shaped bases; lower leaves are lobed and upper leaves entire. The handsome leaves can be as large as 12 in across. The flowers small, funnel shaped with long tubes. Although the individual flowers are only about 0.5 in long, they are arranged in massive panicles up to 1 ft or more in height, at the end of branches. The flowers within the pyramid shaped cluster are tiered, like a Japanese pagoda. Pagoda flower is native to Sri Lanka, Malaysia and much of southeastern Asia. It was probably introduces in India, and escaped cultivation. It is widely cultivated in tropical gardens throughout the world.
The large, glossy, lobed leaves and fairly robust stems with an almost square cross-sectional form are also prominent characteristics of C. paniculatum . Their ability to produce root suckers allows pagoda flowers to spread vegetatively and they can form apparently clonal stands of several plants together.
Fruits and seeds
Clerodendrum paniculatum frequently has a high percentage of aborted pollen grains and fruit does not appear to set among the populations observed in Java, New Guinea and Sri Lanka. Kew scientist Dr James Wearn has only seen two dried specimens in fruit (collected from Peninsular Malaysia) which, when dissected, had seeds (at least developing) within their fruits. No germination tests have been carried out at Kew to date.
The pagoda flower was taken into cultivation throughout Indomalesia many centuries ago, as it is easy to grow in warm, humid climates and produces large inflorescences nearly all year round. Flowers of cultivated plants are usually sterile and so do not produce fruits. During the eighteenth century, novel ornamental plants from ‘the other side of the world’ were in high demand in Europe and this species was one of the earliest to reach the foremost nurseries of the time, being introduced to Britain from Java in 1809 as a greenhouse plant. It is easily propagated vegetatively and strikes readily from cuttings.
The pagoda flower has a number of medicinal uses in Asia. In Malaysia an infusion is drunk as a purgative and is applied externally to distended stomachs. Various magical attributes have been recorded; indeed the Malay vernacular name pangil-pangil refers directly to the ‘summoning’ of spirits. Clerodendrum paniculatum is also supposed to confer protection from harm and is used as an elephant-medicine! Substances produced by several Clerodendrum species are undergoing more rigorous scientific trials in order to evaluate their medicinal potential. To date, results are promising, and antipyretic and anti-inflammatory properties have been verified, as well as antiviral activity.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.