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Family Scrophulariaceae
Leucophyllum frutescens (Berland.) I.M.Johnst.

Scientific names Common names
Leucophyllum frutescens (Berland.) I.M.Johnst. Ash bush (Engl.)
Leucophyllum texanum Benth. Ash plant (Engl.)
Terania frutescens Berland. Barometer-bush (Engl.)
  Silverleaf (Engl.)
  Green cloud (Engl.)
  Purple sage (Engl.)
  Silverado (Engl.)
  Silverado sage (Engl.)
  Barometer-bush (Engl.)
  Texas ranger (Engl.)
  Texas sage (Engl.)
  Wild lilac (Engl.)
Leucophyllum frutescens (Berland.) I.M. Johnst. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
SPANISH: Cenizo, Cenicilla, Palo cenizo, Hierba edel cenizo.

Silverleaf is a dense evergreen shrub from 2 to 5 feet tall, occasionally reaching 8 feet in height, with is leaves covered with stellate, silvery hairs and bright pink-lavender, bilateraly symmetrical flowers borne singly in crowded leaf axils. Leaves are silver gray to greenish, soft to touch, up to 1 1/4 inches long or less, tapering gradually to the base, with rounded tip, and smooth margins. Flowers are violet to purple, sometimes pink, bell-shaped, about 1 inch in length and width. Fruit is a small capsule. (2)

• Sage attribution has erroneously been given to silverleaf—Texas sage, purple sage, Silverado sage. It is not a true sage but a leucophyllum and a member of the Scrophylariaceae family. It lacks the square stems and aroma of typical sage. It is more closely related to snapdragons. (7)

- Introduced.
- Widely cultivated in Florida and Southeast Asia.
- Popular as ornamental and hedge plant.

- Contain high amounts of C, with a high C/N ratio.
- Study on leaves yielded: (macro-nutrients) K 0.8 ± 0.10 mg/g-1 dw, Mg 2.69 ± 0.28 mg/g, P 13.69 ± 3.10, C 14.6 %. N 49.97 ±0.04 %, C:N 2.25 ±0.27;
(micronutrients) Cu 6.45 ±0.79 µgg-1 dw, Fe 118.12 ± 15.44 µgg-1 dw, Zn 27.23 ± 3.79 µgg-1 dw.

- Called Barometer Bush because flowers bloom magnificently after rains due to humidity and soil moisture.
- Studies suggest antimicrobial, antituberculous, cytotoxic, hepatoprotective properties.

Parts used


- Dried leaves and flowers can be brewed into an herbal tea. It has been reported to have mildly sedative effects.
- No known medicinal use in the Philippines.
- In northeast Mexico, used for bronchitis and lung complaints, including tuberculosis, diarrhea, liver, fever, and jaundice.
- Decoction of leaves used as tea for treating lung congestion, bronchitis, chills, and fever associated with colds.

Hepatoprotective / Aerial Parts:
Study evaluated the hepatoprotective efficacy of L. frutescens aerial parts in a model of hepatotoxicity induced by carbon tetrachloride in wistar albino rats. Results showed significant decrease in ALT and AST, less pronouced destruction of liver architecture. Results suggest the methanol extract of aeria parts could be an important source of hepatoprotective compounds. (3)
Antimicrobial / Cytotoxicity: In a study of five medicinal plants for potential antimicrobial activity, methanol extract of leaves of L. frutescens showed antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aures and Escherichia coli with MIC of 25.0 and 27.1 µg.ml, respectively. In the bioassay with Artemia salina, only the extract of L. frutescnes showed toxicity with DL50 of 196.7 µg/ml. (4)
Antituberculosis Activity / Roots and Leaves: In a study of 14 plants used in northeast Mexico for potential antimicrobial activity, methanol based extracts of roots and leaves showed significant antimicrobial activity against drug-resistant strain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, with a minimal inhibitory concentrtion (MIC) of 62.5 and 125 microg/mL. (5)
Leubethanol / Serrulatane-Type Diterpene / Anti-Tuberculosis: Bioactivity-guided fractionation of methanolic extract of root bark of L. frutescens isolated and identified leubethanol, a new serrulatne-type diterpene with activity against both multi-drug resistant and drug-sensitive strains of virulent
Mycobacterium tuberculosis. (6)

- Wild-crafted.
- Herbal teas and supplements in the cybermarket.

Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

July 2016

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Leucophyllum frutescens (Berland.) I.M. Johnst. / Synonyms / The Plant List

Leucophyllum frutescens / Floridata Plant Encyclopedia
Hepatoprotective effect of Leucophyllum frutescens on Wistar albino rats intoxicated with carbon tetrachloride. / Balderas-Renteria I, Camacho-Corona Mdel R, Carranza-Rosales P, Lozano-Garza HG, Castillo-Nava D, Alvarez-Mendoza FJ, Tamez-Cantú EM. / Ann Hepatol. 2007 Oct-Dec;6(4):251-4.
Antimicrobial activity of five plants from Northern Mexico on medically important bacteria / María del Carmen Vega Menchaca, Catalina Rivas Morales, Julia Verde Star, Azucena Oranday Cárdenas, María Eufemia Rubio Morales, Maria Adriana Núñez González and Luis Benjamín Serrano Gallardo / African Journal of Microbiology Research, Vol 7(43), pp 5011-5017, October 2013 / DOI: 10.5897/AJMR12.1759
Evaluation of the flora of Northern Mexico for in vitro antimicrobial andantituberculosis activity / G.M. Molina-Salinas, A.Pérez-Lopez, P. Becerril-Montes, R. Salazar-Aranda, S. Said-Fernandez, N. Waksman de Torres / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 109 (2007) 435–41
Stereochemical Analysis of Leubethanol, an Anti-TB-Active Serrulatane, from Leucophyllum frutescens / Gloria M. Molina-Salinas, Verónica M. Rivas-Galindo, Salvador Said-Fernández, David C. Lankin, Marcelo A. Muñoz, Pedro Joseph-Nathan, Guido F. Pauli, and Noemí Waksman / J. Nat. Prod., 2011, 74 (9), pp 1842–1850 / DOI: 10.1021/np2000667
Cenizo / Christina Mild / Rio Delta Wild
Nutrient Profile of Native Woody Species and Medicinal Plants in Northeastern Mexico: A Synthesis /
Ratikanta Maiti, Humberto Gonzalez Rodriguez* and Aruna Kumari / J Bioprocess Biotech 6:283. / doi:10.4172/2155-9821.1000283

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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