Ehretia microphylla is a tropical shrub, quite popular in South-east Asia, from India, Sri Lanka and China (it is said to be native to Fujian province of China or to north Philippines), throughout Myanmar, Malaysia, the Philippines to Australia. It has long traditions of uses in most of these countries, where it is drunk as a tea and used as a medicine. But even though its popularity as a tea brought it its names like Fukien Tea, Fujian Tea, Wild Tea, Philippine Tea, Tsaang Gubat and Chaang Bundok (which means Forest Tea and Moutain Tea in Tagalog), it is more commonly known as a ornamental shrub. Its neat look, tiny shiny leaves, easy maintance and hight ability for shaping by cutting, made it famous as a garden and park plant in tropics, and bonsai type houseplant around the world. Ehretia microphylla is quite popular as a medicinal herb in The Philippines, where it was promoted by Departament of Health, and is one of those herbs for which demand on markets far exceeds the production. Fukien Tea is also known under latin name Carmona retusa, its other synonyms, that are rather out of use today, include Ehretia buxifolia, Carmona microphylla, Carmona heterophylla, Cordia retusa, Ehretia retusa, Ehretia heterophylla, Ehretia dentata, Ehretia monopyrena. It is also known as Baapanaburi in India, Ji Ju Shu in China, Scorpionbush in Australia, Kinangan in Indonesia, Fukumangi in Japan, Khoi Cheen in Thailand to give just few.
CULTIVATION AND HARVESTING
Fukien Tea is a evergreen shrub with weeping branches, that can reach up to 4m high and same in diameter. It grows wild both in wet thickets, forests and dry open spaces in tropical regions of South-east Asia and Australasia. It requires full sun or partial shade and thrives in high temperatures and humidity but is quite drought resistant. Ehretia microphylla does not tolerate temperatures lower than 0'C, but is well known for being easy to grow as a houseplant in temperate regions, and is one of the most popular plants in the world, for forming into bonsai. It is perfect plant for cutting and creative shaping into fancy shrubs and live fences, with its thick nature and nice little, glossy leaves. It has tiny white flowers and orange berries. Whole steems with leaves can be gathered at any time, to be used fresh or to dry.
Fresh, well chopped leaves can be boiled for around 15 minutes, or dried crushed leaves can be prepared in a way as green tea, to make refreshing, caffeine-free drink, delightfull both hot and cold. Its tiny stony berry fruits are edible.
Ehretia microphlla is widely used in the Philippines where it is usually called Tsaang Gubat or Chaang Gubat. Philippine Departament of Health endorsed this plant in list of 10 thoroughly tested and clinicly proven herbs recomended for home use in '' Traditional Medicinal Program ''. In form of decoction from fresh shredder or dried crushed leaves and stems, it is used for: intestinal motility, stomach pain, diarrhoea, dysentery, gastroenteritis, colic, cough and fever. And also as a disinfectant wash for eczema, scabies, after childbirth, and as a mouth gargle for tooth decay (it have high fluoride content). Tsaang Gubat is hardly but aviable on market in form of teas, extracts, pills and capsules.
In the Siddha Medicine System ( traditional medicine of Sri Lanka) it is called Kuruvichi or Kuruvichi poondu, and is used for fevers, cough, stomach and bowels complains, leprosy, eczema due to venereal diseases, skeletal fractures, infertality and diarrohea in children. The roots decoctions are used for cachexia, syphilis, diabetis and as a antidote for viper bites and certain poisonous plants, including raw cassava.
Ehretia microphylla contain microphyllones, kampferols (astragalin, nicotiflorin), baurenol, ursolic acid, rosmarinic acid, sterols (stigmasterol, stigmastanol, daucosterol, ehretianone (chemical that protect against action of snake venom). cholesterol, campesterol, beta-sitosterol ), triterpenes ( a-amyrin, b-amyrin ), flavonoids, quinones, alkaloids, glycosides, saponins, tanins and fluoride
It is antioxidant, antiinflammatory, antibacterial, analgesic, antialergic, antimutagenic, antitumor, antidiarrheal, stomachic, febrifuge, antispasmotic, antifungal and alterative. Labolatory studies shown that dried powder of Ehretia microphylla can be used for treating irregular ovulation disorders and promotes fertility in female. In small quantities this herb is safe for babies and is given as a colic treatment for bottle-fed babies. Methanolic extract of leaves of Ehretia microphylla has shown strong antihistamine release properties.
'' Medicinal Plants of the Philippines '' - dr. Eduardo Quisumbing, Katha Publishing 1978
'' Useful Plants of the Philippines '' Volume 3 - William H. Brown, Acorn Press 1950
'' Medicinal Plants Research in Asia - Volume I : The Framework and Projects Workplans '' - Bioversity International
'' Ethnopharmacology of Medicinal Plants : Asia and the Pacific '' - Christophe Wiart, Springer Science and Buisness Media 2007
'' Indian Medicinal Plants : An Illustrated Dictionary '' - C.P. Khare, Springer Science and Buisness Media 2008
'' CRC World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants '' - Umberto Quattrocchi , CRC Press 2012