Premna serratifolia is a small tree of the Verbenaceae family that is native to Southeast Asia. It can reach a height of 10 to 20 feet and prefers full sun with some semi-shade. This ethnomedical plant is widely used as a spice or herb, especially in Indian traditional medicine. Its leaves are edible and have a lightly pungent flavor, making them popularly used as mixed vegetables or ingredients for hotpot. Sometimes used as a vegetable hot-pot dip or can be used as vegetables boiled or fried. It tastes very good. This mildly stimulant herb is famous in whole South Asia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.
This small tree is cultivated widely in gardens in USDA Zone 8-11e. It flowers during spring and summer and produces yellowish-white fragrant flowers in small panicles. These flowers are followed by small black fruits, which are 1/8 to 5/16 inch in size. The fruits are edible and can be consumed, either raw or cooked. They have sweetly scented and mild taste. In traditional medicine, the fruits are considered to have anti-inflammatory, antiulcer, and antimalarial properties.
Premna serratifolia is easy to grow and requires little care. For those in cold regions, it can be grown in a pot and stored inside the house during winter. It needs to be watered regularly and fertilized every season. It can tolerate short-term periods of drought, but it requires enough cold to properly flower.
Overall, Premna serratifolia is a valuable small tree with many uses. Its leaves and fruits make it edible, while its medicinal benefits make it an important herb in native traditional medicines. It is relatively easy to take care of and its versatility makes it a great addition to any garden.