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With love and passion, everyone can have a nice garden...Elaine Yim

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Count The Garden By The Flowers, Never By The Leaves That Fall.
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..... Author unknown.

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Malaysian Flora USDA Zone 11
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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Clerodendrum paniculatum Pagoda Flower

This is the final part of my feature on Clerodendrums, a genus of about 400 species of flowering plants in the Verbenaceae family.

Clerodendrum is from the Greek word, meaning "lottery tree". Dendros means tree. The lottery refers to unsure possibility of medicinal value from certain plants of this genus. (Source: Wikipedia)

In Asia, many people believe they have magical powers.

It is native to the tropical and warm temperate regions of the world which include the most of Tropical Africa and Southern Asia, and some parts of Tropical America and Northern Australia.

Clerodendrum has often been misspelt wrongly as Clerodendron.

Scientific name: Clerodendrum paniculatum
Family: Verbenaceae (Teak family, previously Lamiaceae)
Origin: Myanmar to South China and Southeast Asia.

Photographs taken by Autumn Belle at The Lake Gardens of Kuala Lumpur

Common names: Pagoda Flower
Chinese name: 赪桐 , 宝塔龙船花 (Bao da lung chuan hua or pagoda dragon boat flower ?),
龙船花 lung chuan hua (dragon boat flower)
Malay name: Panggil-panggil,* Pepanggil 

* Source: A Field Guid to Tropical Plants of Asia by David H. Engel and Suchart Phummai, a Marshall Cavendish 2007 Edition

Additional information:
1. In Malaysia and Indonesia, some Clerodendrums are believed to have supernatural powers, i.e. the plants have 'pepanggil' meaning the ability to summon spirits. In Malay language, 'panggil' means call or summon. The flowers protruding stamens are thought to have the power to beckon, so hunters use the blooms to lure game. ..... Javanese believe that Pagoda Flower has "panggil-panggil", or magic powers. Newborn Amboinese infants are washed ceremoniously in an infusion of the leaves. (Source: Book titled, "Tropical Shurbs" by Horace F. Clay and James C. Hubbard by University of Hawaii Press, 1987 Edition).

2. In Malay, species of Clerodendrum are called "panggil-panggil" (to summon), and trappers use such plants when setting traps for mouse deer to summon the animal. (Source: Tropical Horticultural and Gardening by Dr. Francis SP Ng, Clearwater Publications 2006)

3. C. Paniculatum is one of the plants used to sprinkle the 'air tepung tawar' (sacred water) at traditional malay wedding and blessing ceremonies. - Source:, there reference text is here.

Clerodendrum paniculatum is an upright shrub with large evergreen leaves and showy orange-red, inflorescence flowers. Each tiny flower has a long tube and protruding stamens. The flowers are grouped in clusters and arranged in tiers like a pagoda.

The bush sometimes have multiple stems as new shoots that arise from the roots. Grow under full to partial sun. Propagation is by stem or root cuttings, not from seeds.

Medicinal uses:
Crused leaves are used in the treatment of dysentry
Roots contains an antidote for certain snake bites
A paste of the leaves applied to infected burns

Recently, Dr. Andrea of Andrea In This Lifetime blog wrote a post about the Clerodendrum intermedium. That plant is quite similar to this one, but they are not the same. Her post is here, so do take a look and compare.

My post today is dedicated to Lotus Leaf from Southern India of Garden Tropics blog. I have learnt a lot from her very informative posts and gorgeous flowers in her blog. She is posting a wild orchid with tiger stripes today.

This is my entry for Today's Flowers # 96, a meme which opens every Sunday, 2pm GMT. My grateful thanks to Today's Flowers team members; Luiz Santili Jr, Denise in Virginia, Laerte Pupo and Sandy Carlson. To participate and view other gorgeous flowers around the world, click here.


  1. Based on the info you provided, it seems that this flower is pretty well known in Asian countries for medicinal or supernatural purpose. I tried to read the name in Chinese and it's not registering. I don't think I've heard about this flower before.

  2. Hi, RoseBelle.

    Actually, I don't read Chinese! The chinese terms are the result of my web searches. I value your feedback very much. Kindly let me know if there are any errors and I'll gladly chang it.

    You can google:
    (i) based on the keywords, "宝塔龙船花"
    or try these links:


  3. It's a showy plant and easily recognisable. Thanks for the great pics.

  4. Thank you Autumn Belle. I have also learnt many things from your very informative posts. Thanks for clearing a doubt about the spelling:) This Clerodendrum grows on the roadsides in the coastal regions of Southern India. I have planted one, it has not flowered yet.

  5. Wow Autumn Belle, you have a lot of Clerodendrum in your area, now i see this is not from the Secret Garden of Utama. Thanks also for the mention of my post and "haha" for crossing out Clerodendron. But a scientific paper i read said that Clerodendron thomsoniae is just a species of Clerodendrum, so sometimes it is called Clerodendrum thomsoniae. I think it's time i consult a taxonomist, just to be sure. With the "garbage in-garbage out" in the net it is already confusing.

    Your post now has really a very tall flowering stem, beautiful. When it fruits it is also beautiful to see the green later turning violet when ripe.

  6. The clerodendrum most commonly seen around here is Clermodrum bungeii, called by common names of Mexicalli Rose, Rose Glory Bower and Mexican Hydrangea. It can be a thug, but it met with bigger thugs in my garden and has left.

  7. Such lovely blooms. Great captures. And thank you for sharing the information.

    Have a great week.

  8. Lovely blooms and great information! Thanks for sharing!

  9. How wonderful to see something so unusal, I have seen it as a houseplant here in Iowa but I am certain it would not bloom like that indoors............good info along with the photos.

  10. Autumn Belle, I can see why this intriguing flower is considered to have magical powers.
    I love to learn about your Malaysian customs ... Malaysian weddings must be especially beautiful!

  11. What an unusual shrub with gigantic blooms. I love the fact that they have magical powers. One never knows. Thanks for sharing.


  12. Nice tough plant! The flowers of this plant are outstanding.

  13. Thanks for your information on Clerodendrum. I never seen this type before!

  14. They really look quite huge in comparison with the heliconia plant beside it.
    Do they have a sweet fragrant?
    They do look invasive too.

  15. Thank you for the nice comments.

    James, nothing is mentioned about this plant having any fragrance. The Clerodendrum bungei that Nell Jean mentioned above is very fragrant.

    Clerodendrum paniculatum need a big space to grow but it is not invasive. The stems that come out of its roots are localised around the area of the plant.

  16. Interesting! I think we may have plants like these in Sicily, too. At least, I know I've seen something similar. I'll have to look it up! Thanks!

  17. I love all the information and they seems very healthy and beautiful little flowers, love the colors.

  18. It's very pretty Autumn and great that it has medicinal value.

  19. there's no denying, it looks really like a pagoda!


  20. Just my two bits here: I think it's a common/scientific difference. We say Clerodendron when referring to the plant in general but write Clerodendrum ....species. Similar is the Spirea/Spiraea difference.

    This is another outstanding species.

  21. Beautiful cluster of flowers. They are huge too! Bet you had a great time photographing flowers and plants at KL Lake Garden.

  22. I have a plant which I bought last year it was only 8ins tall and all the leaves fell off over the winter period but I kept it warm and watered it occasionally this year it has grown over two foot high and the flower head is massive I really love this plant I am hoping next year it will increase in size again its a good conversation piece

    1. Pauline, thank you very much for reading my old post and for sharing your experience with me. It is much appreciated. Hope next year you have even better luck!

  23. may i know this flower is incomplete or complete flower .. i'am a bit confuese.

    1. According to the definition of a complete flower, it is composed of four organs (sepals, petals, stamens, and carpels) attached to the floral stalk by a receptacle. Well, each flower in that bunch of many many flowers that make up the inflorescence certainly looks like a complete flower to me.


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