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Malaysian Flora USDA Zone 11
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Monday, June 29, 2009

Cat Whiskers for Tea Anyone?

This plant is a native plant of South East Asia. It is found abundantly in Malaysia and Indonesia. As the name suggests, the flowers resemble that of a cat's whiskers and may be either white or bluish purple. Cat whiskers are also known as misai kuching in malay.

Scientific name: Orthosiphon aristatus
Synonym: Orthosiphon stamineus
Family: Lamiaceae
 Common name: Java tea, Misai Kuching
Chinese name: mao xu cao (猫须草) or hua shi cao (化石草)

Origin: South East Asia
Category: Weak-stemed herb

It is actually very easy to grow. Propagation is by stem cuttings. Sometimes, roots occur at the place where stems touch the soil. You can cut-off this portion and transplant it.

There is not much of a problem with pests. With full to partial sunlight and regular watering, it can grow very fast. Frequent prunning is necesary to shape the plant.

It doesn't take long for the young plant to start blooming. Flowering occurs throughout the whole year. In my case, at first all the dainty looking flowers were bluish-purple. The next batch of flowers from the same plant was all white. Now, for this current batch, well, there are mostly white with one or to bluish-purple ones.

Wilted flowers should be deadheaded to encourage more flowering later.

We can grow this plant as a ground cover. Alternatively, we can also grow it in a container.

This plant is also known for its medicinal values, particularly in healing kidney ailments like kidney stones. The leaves can be used fresh or dried and later made into a tea for drinking. Cat whiskers is used in the making of java tea.

Very easy to grow, therefore a useful plant to have at home.

Note: This post has been updated with the latest images on 24 Jun 2010.


  1. Interesting plant. It is definitely good to have one in a garden... for medicinal use if necessary. Good tea plant!

  2. Hi, Stephanie. I would recommend you to have it too. You won't regret it. The medicinal benefits have been well researched and documented. We plant it in our homes as a preventive measure to 'Sediakan payung sebelum hujan'. Even if you don't consume the leaves, the plant will beautify your garden.

  3. Sure and tq for the advice ;-)

  4. The flowers of Misai Kuching is really beautiful. I have taken the tea made from the plant but its really bitter. I had to keep a candy in my mouth as I swallowed it.

  5. I love the Cat's Whiskers, mine is purple!

    Happy WW.

  6. WE also have this in our garden in the province. I followed up the degree of flower opening every morning for 3 days until the firt flowers extended the whiskers. It was fascinating doing that, i realized!

  7. Dragonfly Lady, Andrea, I do appreciate your comments very much. Thank you for visiting my old posts.

  8. I wanted to identify the plant and through my blog I have achieved thanks.

  9. Hi, wanna ask where i can get this plant in Ipoh area. Because i need it for my FYP's experiment. Kindly guide me. Thanks lots :)

    1. You can go to any nursery near your place. Ask the owner. They'll most likely have it since this is a common plant.

  10. Hello, I just bought a plant called Cat Whiskers in my local gardening store but it has a black flower. Gorgeous but now I'm wondering if it really is a Cat Whisker? I have no idea how to care for it or what it needs for nutrients.

    1. Hi Jo, as I am aware, the Cat Whiskers plant only has white or purple flowers. I have never seen one with black flowers. Can yours be the Bat Lily ( Tacca chantrieri)? You can google the images to check. Different species need different care and attention.


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