Snake repellent plant that common already are Marigold, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, Lemongrass, and Garlic. Peoples are still not that familiar with Kilemo. Kilemo (Litsea cubeba) grows wild in the forest. This is species-rich in benefits. There are many essential oil products on the market. According to local wisdom, mostly in west java regions, this wood is also considered effective in keeping snakes away.

But certainly, Kilemo tree is useful as an essential oil raw material. Almost all parts of the Kilemo (flowers, fruit, leaves, and bark) contain essential oils. Essential oil from Kilemo has a fragrant aroma like citrus. It is one of the important raw materials for industry, such as cosmetic ingredients (aromatherapy), soap, perfume, skin cleanser, and acne. It also potential to explore more detail about the active Carcinostatic compounds, but this still needs further research.


  • Kingdom         :  Plantae
  • Clade               :  Angiosperms
  • Clade               :  Magnoliids
  • Order               :  Laurales
  • Family             :  Lauraceae
  • Genus              :  Litsea
  • Species            :  Litsea cubeba

Local Names

Kayu Limau (Indonesia), Lado-Lado (Padang), Kilemo (Sunda), Kranggean, Krangen (Jawa), Antarasa (North Sumatra), Baleng La (Dayak), Mejankari (India), May Chang (Chinese), Pheasant Pepper Tree (English)

Snake Repellent Plant


Litsea cubeba is widely distribute in Eastern Himalayas to continental Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia (especially Java, Kalimantan, Sumatra), Brunei, Philippines, Vietnam, and China (Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Xizang, Yunnan, Zhejiang)


Litsea cubeba grows in groups in mountainous areas at an altitude of 700 to 2300 m above sea level. It grows optimally in temperature conditions ranging from 22 – 42 Celsius; relative humidity, maximum between 35-86%. Branchlets have fine hair. Leaves are oval or elliptical in shape. Leaves width between 4–11 × 1.1–2.4 cm.

The upper surface of the leaves is smooth, but the underside of the leaves is not hairy or covered with fine hairs. The edges of the leaves are serrated, while the length of the petioles is between 0.6–2 cm. The flowers appear abundantly in the axillary. The fruit green and will turns black when ripe, with a size of about 0.5 cm in diameter.


Peoples have known for a long time about the use of Kilemo. Litsea cubeba is a plant that is widely used as an anti-diarrheal, skin disease medicine, and antiseptic. Apart from containing essential oils, this plant also contains other components such as tannins, saponins, flavonoids, and alkaloids. Because of this usefulness, it causes exploitation in nature. This causes the existence of the snake tree to decrease day by day.

Medicinal Uses

The Litsea Cubeba essential oil extracted from fresh fruits. contains about 60–90% citral content and is an essential oil with volatile compounds having an intense lemon-like, fresh, sweet aroma, and insoluble in water. It was found effective against Vicia faba, and weevil (Bruchus rufimanus) China is one of the largest producers and exporter of Litsea cubeba oil in the world.

The dried fruits are common for medicinal purposes, especially to relieve flatulence, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, stomachache, antiasthmatic, sedative, anti-dysenteric, and antiseptic. Some recent studies also mention that Listea cubeba also has active compounds as therapeutic, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-cancerous, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic.

Snake Repellent Plant1
Advertisement of Essential Oil from Litsea Cubeba

Another benefit that has peoples also already knowing is the aphrodisiac effect. So that many peoples are also looking for it, either by exploiting directly from nature, or buy directly in the market.

Local Wisdom As Snake Repellent Plant

Apart from being a medicinal ingredient, people, especially in West Java, also believe that the wood, branches, and twigs of Kilemo as snake plant repellent, centipedes, and scorpions. This may be because the wood gives off a scent which these animals do not like. Because of its popularity, this Kilemo is traded in small pieces. Many traders offer it in several online markets in Indonesia.

Edible Uses

Besides being famous for being consumed in the form of essential oil, the fresh green fruits of Kilemo can also be used as a salad mix.  The fruits are also eaten as a vegetable.  The fruit, bark, and leaves also edible and can be used as curry ingredients. While the roots are cooked to flavoring foods.

Then What Is Exactly The Content Of Kilemo?

Essential oil

The essential oil products from Litsea Cubeba contain Sineol 30%, Citronellal 0.94%, Linallol 8.95%, and Citral 16.02%. Kilemo is a source of the best quality citral, almost the same as the essential oil from lemongrass. To get this essential oil from Kilemo requires a refining process.

Pharmaceutical Compounds

The active compound content of kilemo consists of several active secondary metabolite compounds which are structurally very diverse and useful for medicinal raw materials. Some of the content of secondary metabolite compounds, including alkaloids, monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, diterpenes, flavonoids, amides, lignans, steroids, and fatty acids. The above compounds are known to have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antidiabetic, and anti-HIV properties, and therefore have great potential to treat various diseases.


  • Madhu Kamle, et, al.  2019.  Ethnopharmacological Properties and Medicinal Uses of Litsea cubeba.  Plants 2019, 8, 150 
  • Sylviani & Elvida..  2010.  Study of Potencial, Distribution and Feasibility of Litsea cultivation.  JURNAL Penelitian Sosial dan Ekonomi Kehutanan Vol. 7 No. 1 Maret 2010, p. 73 – 91

Muryanto Paiman

always love to learn from nature.  Passionate on studying plants in some aspects: the DNA, Identification, propagation, and their uses


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