Herb: Boldu

Latin name: Peumus boldus

Synonyms: Boldu boldus

Family: Monimiaceae (Monimia Family)

Medicinal use of Boldu:

Boldu is a traditional remedy used by the Araucanian Indians of Chile as a tonic. The plant stimulates liver activity and bile flow and is chiefly valued as a remedy for gallstones and liver or gallbladder pain. It is normally taken for only a few weeks at a time, either as an infusion or as a tincture. It is often combined with other herbs such as Berberis vulgaris or Chionanthus virginicus in the treatment of gallstones. The leaves are analgesic, antiseptic (urinary), bitter, cholagogue, diuretic, stimulant and tonic. They are considered a valuable cure for gonorrhoea in S. America. The plant is taken internally in the treatment of liver disease (though the bark is more effective here), gallstones, urinary tract infections, intestinal parasites and rheumatism. It has been used in the past as a substitute for quinine in the treatment of malaria. The leaves are harvested during the growing season and are dried for later use. Some caution is advised, the plant should not be used by pregnant women. See also the notes above on toxicity. A volatile oil obtained from the plant destroys internal parasites. Alkaloids contained in the bark are a stimulant for the liver.

Description of the plant:


6 m
(20 feet)

August to


Habitat of the herb:

Dry sunny slopes in lightly wooded country.

Edible parts of Boldu:

Fruit - raw or cooked. Sweet and aromatic with an agreeable flavour. The fruit is up to 2cm in diameter. The leaves and bark are used as a condiment.

Other uses of the herb:

The bark is a source of tannin and is also used as a dye. A deliciously fragrant essential oil is obtained from the leaves. The dried and powdered leaves are scattered amongst clothes to sweeten them and repel insects. The small fruits are dried and used as beads in necklaces. When warmed by the body or the sun they release the scent of cinnamon. The wood is used for making charcoal.

Propagation of Boldu:

Seed - sow spring in a warm greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer and give them some protection from winter cold for at least their first winter or two outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Grow the cuttings on in the frame or greenhouse for at least their first winter.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry sunny slopes in lightly wooded country.

Known hazards of Peumus boldus:

The leaves contain a toxic alkaloid.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.