Hyptis suaveolens (Lamiaceae)

Hyptis suaveolens DSC_0533 (2)

This herb, also known commonly as pignut or chan, is a native of tropical regions of Mexico, Central, the West Indies, and South America. It has been widely naturalized in tropical parts of Africa, Asia and Australia.

It grows to 1–1.5 m tall. Stems are hairy, and square in cross section. Leaves are oppositely arranged, 2–10 cm long, with shallowly toothed margins, and emit a strong minty odour if crushed. The flowers are pink or purple, arranged in clusters of 1-5 in the upper leaf axils.

Hyptis suaveolens DSC_0533 (3)

H. suaveolens has been rather intensively studied for it’s chemical composition (see references). An essential oil can be extracted from the plant, and aqueous extracts of the plant can be used as an insecticide in some agricultural settings. Seeds from H. suaveolens can also be made into a refreshing drink by soaking in water and refrigerating the mix. Some people add lemon or other citrus to improve the taste. The plant has also been used as a traditional treatment for diarrhoea.


Adda C, Atachi P, Hell K, Tamò M. 2011. Potential use of the Bushmint, Hyptis suaveolens, for the Control of Infestation by the Pink Stalk Borer, Sesamia calamistis on Maize in Southern Benin, West Africa. J Insect Sci. 11, 33.

Azevedo RN, Campos IFP, Ferreira HD, Portes TA, Santos SC, Seraphin JC, Paula JR, Ferri PH. 2001. Chemical variability in the essential oil of Hyptis suaveolens. Phytochemistry 57, 733–736.

Conti B, Canele A, Cioni PL, Flamini G, Rifici A. 2011. Hyptis suaveolens and Hyptis spicigera (Lamiaceae) essential oils: qualitative analysis, contact toxicity and repellent activity against Sitophilus granarius (L.) (Coleoptera: Dryophthoridae). J. Pest Sci. 84, 219-228.

Edeoga HO, Omosun G, Uche LC. 2005. Chemical composition of Hyptis suaveolens and Ocimum gratissimum hybrids from Nigeria. African Journal of Biotechnology 5, 892–895.

Iloba BN, Ekrakene T. 2006. Comparative assessment on insecticidaleffect of Azadirachta indica, Hyptis suaveolens
and Ocimum gratissimum on Sitophilus zeamais and Callosobruchus maculatus. J Biol Sci 6, 626–630.

Kossou KD, Gbehounou G, Bouraïma Y, van Huis A, Ahanchédé A, Ahohouendo B, Bokonon-Ganta HA. 2001. Extrait aqueux de Hyptis suaveolens, plante nouvellement identifiée au Benin pour les insectes nuisibles de niébé. Poster présenté aux journées scientifiques de l’Université d’Abomey-Calavi 10 au 13 Octobre 2001.

Peerzada N. 1997. Chemical composition of the essential oil of Hyptis suaveolens. Molecules. 2, 165–168.

Raja N, Jeyasankar A, Jeyacumar Venkatesan S, Ignacimuthu S. 2005. Efficacy of Hyptis suaveolens against lepidopteran pests. Curr Sci India 88, 220–222.

Sanon A, Dabire C, Huignard J, Monge JP. 2006. Influence of Hyptis suaveolens (Lamiaceae) on the host location behaviour of the parasitoid Dinarmus basalis (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae).Environ Entomol 35, 718–724.

Sidibe L, Chalchat JC, Garry RP. 2001. Aromatic plants from Mali (III): chemical composition of essential oils from two Hyptis species: H. suaveolens (L.) and H. spicigera Lam. J Essent Oil Res 13, 55–57.

Tchoumbougang F, Amvam Zollo PH, Fecam Boyom F, Nyegue MA, Bessie`re JM. 2005. Aromatic plants of Tropical Central Africa.XLVIII. Comparative study of the essential oils of four Hyptisspecies from Cameroon: H. lanceolata Poit., H. pectinata (L.) Poit., H. spicigera Lam. and H. suaveolens Poit. Flavour Fragr J 20, 340–343.

About David Tng

I am David Tng, a hedonistic botanizer who pursues plants with a fervour. I chase the opportunity to delve into various aspects of the study of plants. I have spent untold hours staring at mosses and allied plants, taking picture of pollen, culturing orchids in clean cabinets, counting tree rings, monitoring plant flowering times, etc. I am currently engrossed in the study of plant ecology (a grand excuse to see 'anything I can). Sometimes I think of myself as a shadow taxonomist, a sentimental ecologist, and a spiritual environmentalist - but at the very root of it all, a "plant whisperer"!
This entry was posted in Habitat - Rain forest, Habitat - Urban Areas, Lamiaceae (Mint family), Lifeform - Herbs, Medicinal Plants, Non-Natives, Useful plants and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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