Bouillon Plant (Cordia verbenacea)


Bouillon plant or erva baleeira, Cordia verbenacea, is a perennial herb and potent medicinal plant. This plant seems relatively rare in cultivation and is quite hard to find information on growing, yet there is much literature describing the medicinal properties. Bouillon plant is a small tree, growing up to twelve feet tall and wide. The scent and flavor of the leaves is almost exactly like soup stock, most closely resembling chicken noodle soup, in my opinion. This plant is extremely medicinal; its antibiotic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiseptic and diuretic properties are utilized to treat colds, flu, fever and coughs, pneumonia, parasitic diseases and infections, rheumatism and arthritis, insomnia, malaria, skin diseases, ulcers and bleeding, all while promoting muscle relaxation, pain relief, digestion, and overall healing! This plant is used topically and internally in its leafy form, and made into an essential oil to be used medicinally, as well.


Bouillon plant is easily grown from cuttings. Woody cuttings take more readily than non-woody cuttings.

The plant flowers profusely and sets some small red berries, I have not yet done any experimentation to determine if these seeds are viable or not.

Cuttings ready for planting


Bouillon plant thrives in any location, part shade to full sun. I have started cuttings in pots as well as directly in the soil in a few different places and they’ve all taken off. This plant is very vigorous and is always full of edible leaves. Flowering does not affect the taste of the leaves, so this one can be maintained in a less diligent manner than some other herbs.


This plant may be eaten raw or cooked. I personally think the leaves are a bit intense raw. We typically take leaves, chop them coarsely and add them early in cooking, right after the onions are sautéed. We cook them with beans and soup quite often; the bouillon plant is actually one of our most used herbs.

Where to obtain planting materials

This seems to be a really rare one. As far as I know, only a handful of people have this plant on the island. It should be more widely grown!

My Garden

I first discovered this plant while visiting and working on a farm in Kohala with a friend. It was planted directly next to the house and when we brushed up against it, I was instantly intrigued. When we asked what the plant was, no one knew. I asked for a cutting to try and propagate, as seeds weren’t on the plant at the time. I started two cuttings and although they both took, I kept them in pots awhile, as I wasn’t sure what the plant was or where I would want to plant it. Those plants eventually rooted into the ground and I decided to pull one up and go plant it out in the field. My friend, who also got a cutting, grew his out a little bit and posted photos in a few online forums, asking for help with identification. We finally got an ID and were able to research and learn a little bit more about it.

I’ve since started eating it regularly, and just a few days before press time, experienced the medicinal properties of it firsthand. I recently got quite a few wasp stings and was very swollen, so I decided to try the plant on my hand, rather than my regular injury go-to (comfrey). I didn’t fully cover my swollen hand with the poultice and after I took off the covering I noticed half of my hand was still swollen and the other half completely normal. At this point, I was convinced of the medicinal properties and covered my hand for one full day; after that, the swelling was gone and my hand was back to normal. Wow, the magical properties of plants! This plant is another amazing addition to anyone’s homestead. The plant fascinates anyone who smells it, and the medicinal properties are on par with comfrey, another magical herb; this one is just a bit more pleasant to consume!

Bouillon plant planted with taro and papaya

Bouillon plant planted with: taro, stick oregano, papaya and tzimbalo

Happy Gardening!

37 thoughts on “Bouillon Plant (Cordia verbenacea)

  1. I agree it sounds like it should be more widely grown.
    Unfortunately, with no info on a source in Puna or elsewhere on the east side, I can’t do my part to help.

  2. Aloha, Chris just sent me your blog (so cool!). I think you got some cuttings from us. I happen to have a bunch of seeds on one of the bushes now if you’d like to try and propagate some and add more info to your blog here.

  3. I have an on-going inflammation problem. When I heard about this plant in my brazilian group (what’sapp) about medicinal plants I immediately thought I MUST GET IT😃!

    As I won’t go back to Brazil till 2023 (24, 25 …?) because of the pandemic😭, I’m just wondering if I can find it in Australia ( Sunshine Coast, Montville).

    Google it to no avail …😭

  4. I bought my “Bouillon Plant” from Pearson’s Garden and Herb Farm in Vista, CA. The plant will freeze but comes back. Last year, no frost so it got really big! I’m excited to propagate it for my garden club and use it more myself now that I’ve learned here of its medicinal qualities.

    • Hey Mahavy! Are you local in San Diego?? Would you be willing to send me a woody cutting or let me meet you for this? I’ve also been looking for a plant just not able to pay the $300 they’re asking for, I’m happy with just a cutting 🥲 please let me know!! You can find me on discord under the username “Mosita”

  5. I would love to buy some cuttings from you! I am in Kona, HI.. LOVE, LOVE your blog!! Hope you will continue to post..

  6. i got a cutting from bill in mountain view, so thanks to everyone for spreading this plant around.

    can you tell me if the fruit is edible from this plant? if yes, what does it taste like? mine has not fruited but i’m just curious. what about the flowers? edible? flavor? sites in brazil mention that birds eat the fruits at least.

    the leaves taste and smell wise are fantastic. BUT WOW is this a totally unknown plant outside of brazil. its bad when they have to recategorize/rename the taxon too. i spent time looking for the scientific name of the plant but all i found was toona sinesis. (a completely different edible beef flavored tree leaf)

    some science on the super low toxicity of this plant here Pharmacological Assay of Cordia verbenacea Part1. Anti-Inflammatory Activity and Toxicity of the Crude Extract of the Leaves
    full text here

  7. I bought a starter plant from Green Garden Guy near Kurtistown a few months ago. He calls it “beef bouillon plant”

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