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Litsea cubeba

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Title: Litsea cubeba  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Flora of Myanmar, Backhousia citriodora, Cayenne pepper, Paprika, Cumin
Collection: Flora of Bhutan, Flora of China, Flora of Indonesia, Flora of Myanmar, Flora of Nepal, Flora of Taiwan, Fruits Originating in Asia, Litsea
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Litsea cubeba

May Chang
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Magnoliids
Order: Laurales
Family: Lauraceae
Genus: Litsea
Species: L. cubeba
Binomial name
Litsea cubeba

May Chang (Litsea cubeba; Aromatic litsea) is an evergreen tree or shrub 5–12 meters high in the Lauraceae family. It is native to China, Indonesia, Taiwan and other parts of Southeast Asia. It is called "mountain pepper" (山胡椒) in Mandarin and maqaw (馬告) by the Atayal aborigines in Taiwan. As a famous spice among Taiwanese aborigines, a proposed National Park at Yilan County is named "Magao" after the spice. It produces a fruit which is processed for its lemony essential oil. The oil can also be extracted from the leaf, but this is considered to be lower in quality. The timber is sometimes used for making furniture and crafts. Plant parts are also used in medicine.

Oil extraction

Essential oil yields from the fruit are 3-5%. The oil's main component is citral, at 70-85% of the oil.[1] It is mainly produced in China from plantations and is marketed as "Litsea cubebea", with production estimates between 500 - 1,500 tonnes of oil per annum. The oil is used as a fragrance (especially in bar soap) and for flavouring in its own right. It is also used as a raw material by the chemical industry for the synthesis of vitamin A and violet-like fragrances.[2]

Studies are being done on the essential oil from the seed for treatment of lung cancer.[3]


  1. ^ Lawless, J., The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, ISBN 1-85230-661-0
  2. ^ FAO essential oil profileLitsea cubeba
  3. ^ Seal, S; Chatterjee, P; Bhattacharya, S; Pal, D; Dasgupta, S; Kundu, R; Mukherjee, S; Bhattacharya, S; Bhuyan, M; Bhattacharyya, P. R.; Baishya, G; Barua, N. C.; Baruah, P. K.; Rao, P. G.; Bhattacharya, S (2012). "Vapor of volatile oils from Litsea cubeba seed induces apoptosis and causes cell cycle arrest in lung cancer cells". PLoS ONE 7 (10): e47014.  

External links

  • "Litsea cubeba".  
  • Profile at USDA PLANTS

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