The current high rate of demand and methods of harvesting medicinal plants, particularly from the wild, for the herbal market has lowered natural population sizes for many species. Even for wild American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), regardless of its historical abundance, in some locations it has been reduced to populations of a few dozen individuals (Van der Voort, 1998). This has made research on the propagation of medicinal plants more urgent than ever.There is, presently, a great local market demand for Kacip fatimah especially as afterbirth tonics, however, a paucity exists in technical information on plant identification, propagation techniques, agronomy and sivicultural aspects (Jaganath & Ng, 2000).According to Stone (1988), there exists three varieties of Kf in Malaysia, namely, Labisia pumila var. alata, L. pumila var. pumila and L. pumila var. lanceolata. Each variety commands a different use and thus, it is important to ensure that the right variety is used in each case.
Labisia pumila (Myrsinaceae), popularly known as “Kacip Fatimah”, has been used by many generation of the Malay women to induce and facilitate childbirth as well as a post-partum medicine (Burkill, 1935). Three varieties of L. pumila had been identified and found in Malaysia, they are var. alata, var. pumila and var. lanceolata (Stone, 1988). It is imperative to differentiate the three varieties in terms of their physical and chemical characteristics as well as biological activity, in order to determine the proper plant material for use, hence producing quality herbal medicines with proven safety and efficacy.