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Family Marantaceae
Phrynium pubinerve Blume
San zi tong

Scientific names Common names
Narukila ovata (L.) Farw.     Agit-git (Palawan)
Phrynium capitatum Willd.      Ahuket (NE Luzon)
Phrynium densiflorum Moritzi ex Körn.      Buldo-buldong (Palawan)
Phrynium laoticum Gagnep.      Packing leaf (Engl.)
Phrynium malaccense Ridl.      Slamet leaf (Engl.)
Phrynium ovatum (L.) Druce       
Phrynium philippinense Ridl.       
Phrynium pubigerum Blume       
Phrynium pubinerve Blume       
Phrynium rheedei Suresh & Nicolson       
Phrynium thorelii Gagnep.       
Phyllodes capitata Kuntze      
Phyllodes pubigera (Blume) Kuntze      
Pontederia ovata L.      
Phrynium pubinerve Blume is an accepted species. KEW: Plants of the World Online

Other vernacular names
BANGLADESH: Gai goruda.
CHINA: San zi tong.
INDIA: Ekkam (Adi), Thekrengu (Angami), Kou, Koupat, Koupaat (Assamese), Reru, Bolgota (Garo), Sla met (Khasi), Nalshilna (Tangkhul), Laihu (Mech).
LAO: Tong tying.
THAI: Ka-ret, Ret, Sat, Tong sat, Tong to, Sat tong dang, Pu-mae, Tong ching, Lah-klen-cho.

Gen info
- Phrynium was first described as a genus in 1797.
- Phrynium pubinerve is the type species of the genus Phrynium in the family Marantaceae.

- As the name "packing leaf" implies, the plant is being touted, studied, and cultivated as a natural packing material and alternative  to plastics.

Packing Leaf is a herb with creeping root stock. Leaves are elliptic-oblong, tapering, base rounded or blunt, up to 30 x 18 cm, leaf-stalk up to 60 cm long. Packing Leaf is used, since time immemorial, for packing and wrapping of food stuff, in many parts of NE India, in particular Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya. Flowers are borne in spherical, stalkless spikes, 4-6 cm across. Inner bracts are ovate-oblong, fringed at tip. Flower are yellow. Outer petal-like staminodes are orange-red. Lip has a drooping appendage. Ovary is woolly. (5)

• Rosulate plant 1-2(-3) m tall, sometimes forming dense clusters up to several meters in diameter. Leaf blade 23-82 x 9-30 cm. Inflorescence strongly congested, capitate, 4-8 cm in diameter, bracts subtending the proximal branches dark brown, partially sheathing the entire inflorescence, quickly withering and dissolving distally into a decaying fibrous mesh. Flowers pinkish-white, c. 18 mm long. Fruits bright red, c. 15 mm long, dehiscent. (2)

Note: Phrynium pubinerve is readily recognized by its capitate inflorescence, with tattering brown bracts, and red capsular fruits with gray seeds. Plants are strongly variable in size at reproductive maturity. The Philippine population has been described as separate species, P. philippinense, but shows no differential characters relative to populations of P. pubinerve in other areas. (2)

- Native to the Philippines. (1)
- Also native to Andaman Is., Assam, Bangladesh, Borneo, Cambodia, China South-Central, China Southeast, East Himalaya, India, Jawa, Laos, Malaya, Myanmar, New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Sulawesi, Sumatera, Thailand, Vietnam. (1)

- Study of leaves of  Phrynium pubinerve for essential oil. P. pubinerve yielded 46 components, representing 88.57% of oil. The EOs was rich in alipathic alcohols, aromatics, oxygenated monoterpenes and diterpenes. Major constituents of P. pubinerve were (Z)-3- hexen-1-ol (17.31%), (E)-2-hexenal (9.01%) and 1-hexanol (8.61%), and for T. latifoliawere (Z)-3-hexen-1-ol (28.79%), phytol (12.30) and (E)-b-ionone (9.54%). (see study below) (4)

- Studies have suggest antibacterial, antioxidant, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy properties.

Parts used
Leaves, rhizomes, oil.


- In the Eastern Himalayan region of India, seeds reportedly eaten raw.
- No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- In various folkloric treatments, leaves are used as vehicle to wrap mixtures of ground herbal ingredients, covered with ash to avoid burning, heated over fire, and contents fomented on affected body parts.
- In India, the Mech tribe in Duars of Paschimbanga use the leaves for "contact therapy": Children suffering from malnutrition are made to lay down on the plant leaf for one month; simultaneously, a small part of the skull of Macaca mullatta is tied with a string and hung around the neck. (8)
- The Dai and Hani people in Xishuangbanna use the leaves of P. pubinerve, along with Thysanolaena latifolia, as traditional remedies for relief of coughs, fever, detoxification, and stomach disorders. (10)
- Plant used along with several other plants for treatment of leprosy by ethnic people in the Eastern Himalayan region. (11) Warmed leaves applied to muscle pains and sprains. (12) Rhizome paste applied to boils.
- In Bangladesh, Kanda tribal people use the plant for earache: Whole plant is warmed over fire until the sap starts oozing out, and 2-3 drops of sap is instilled into the ears. (11)
- "People-Forest-Miang" communities in Mae Kampong Village in Thailand use water soaked with Phrynium pubinerve roots to reduce hangover symptoms. (13)
- In Laos, tong tying is used for skin problems; powdered leaves are used as plaster for edema. Decoction of roots drunk for hangovers. (14)
- Juice from stem used for irritant eyes. (15)
- Packaging / Tying: Leaves used as packaging material for vegetables and meat.
(9) The use of P. pubinerve leaves as packaging material and its antiseptic function was reported in China c. 304 AD. (10) Many Southeast Asian tribes use the distinctly aromatic leaf to wrap and prepare food for the aroma contributes to the cuisine, an aroma unfamiliar to modern cooking. (•) In Vietnam's culinary culture, the King Hung legend mentions Chung cake wrapped in La dong leaves (Phrynium spp.), green representing earth and Day cake of white sticky rice representing heaven.
- Crafts: As waterproof materials used for making rain hats, umbrellas, and to roof huts in India. Stems used for for weaving or to keep roof thatching in place. (9) (15)
- Culture: For a good harvest, the Mishing tribe of Jorhat, Assam, India, wrapped all agricultural implements with the leaves of P. pubinerve on the first day of sowing. (9)

Antibacterial / Antioxidant / Essential Oil / Leaves:
Study of evaluated leaves of  Phrynium pubinerve and Thysanolaena latifolia for essential oil, antioxidant and antibacterial activities. On DPPH assay, the EO and ethanol extract showed IC50s of 706.07 and 220.65 µg/ml, respectively;  ABTS assay showed IC50s of 134.97 and 60.57 µg/ml, respectively. The two essential oils were active against all tested pathogenic bacteria and spoilage organisms, with inhibition zones range of 9.00 to 15.33 mm at 20 mg/ml, while the ethanol extracts were only active against A. baumannii, E. coli, K. pneumonia, and P. aeruginosa. The EOs showed broader antimicrobial activities than the ethanol extracts. (see constituents above) (4)
Antidiabetic / Leaves: Study evaluated the effect of P. pubinerve leaves on decreasing blood glucose level on alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Glibenclamide was used as standard.  Four groups were treated with doses of 250, 625, 2500, and 4500 mg/kbw. While all doses were able to decrease blood sugar, the most effective leave dose was 2500 mg/kbw dose. (6)
Syringic Acid / Attenuation of Allergic Inflammation / Leaves: Study evaluated the role of ethanolic leaf extract of syringic acid-rich P. pubinerve supplement in attenuating allergic inflammation. The extract strongly suppressed NO and ROS.RNS production and significantly down-regulated iNOS, COX-2, NF-kB, IL-6 and TNF-α signaling. Results showed the extract ameliorated TDI-induced allergy-like symptoms and decreased different inflammatory WBCs in mice's blood and BAL fluid in a dose-dependent manner. Safe use in animals was evidenced by both acute and sub-acute toxicity studies. (7)

- Wild-crafted.
- Seeds in the cybermarket.

May 2024

                                                 PHOTOS / ILLUSTRATIONS
IMAGE SOURCE: Marantaceae : Phrynium pubinerve / Inflorescence / Copyright © 2012 by P B Pelser & J F Barcelona (contact: pieter.pelser@canterbury.ac.nz) [ref. DOL51722] / Non-Commercial Use  / Image modified / Click on image or link to go to source page / Phytoimages.siu.edu
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Phrynium pubinerve / Une fleur minuscule emerge d'une bractee / Bibamwen / CC BY-SA 4.0 International / Click on image or link to go to source page / Wikimedia Commons
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Marantaceae : Phrynium pubinerve / Inflorescence / Copyright © 2012 by P B Pelser & J F Barcelona (contact: pieter.pelser@canterbury.ac.nz) [ref. DOL75936] / Non-Commercial Use  / Image modified / Click on image or link to go to source page / Phytoimages.siu.edu

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Phrynium pubinerve / KEW: Plants of the World Online
Marantaceae in the Philippines: Phrynium pubinerve / Piyakaset Suksathan, Domingo A Madulid, Finn Borchsenius / Taiwania, 2010; 55(1) / DOI: 10.6165/tai.2010.55(1).28
Hagikhik (Phrynium sp.)

Essential oils composition and bioactivities of two species leaves usedas packaging materials in Xishuangbanna, China / Ren Li, Hua-Bin Hu, Xiu-Fen Li, Ping Zhang, You-Kai Xu, Jing-Jing Yang, Yuan-Fei Wang / Food Control, 2015; 51: pp 9-14 / DOI: 10.1016/j.foodcont.2014.11.009
Packing leaf / Flowers of India
ANTIDIABETIC ACTIVITY OF ETHANOL EXTRACT OF Phrynium pubinerve Blume LEAF IN ALLOXAN-INDUCED DIABETIC RATS (Rattus norvegicus) / Telly Mamuaya, Ferdy G Pakasi, Michael VL Teumbol / Proceeding Manado Health Polytechnic 1st International Conference, 2017; 1(1)
Supplementation of syringic acid-rich Phrynium pubinerve leaves imparts protection against allergic inflammatory responses by downregulating iNOS, COX-2, and NF-κB expressions / Md Arman Islam, Md Samiul Huq Atanu, Md Afjalus Siraj, Asish Kumar Das et al / Heliyon, 2023; 9: e13343
Plants used in contact therapy by Mech tribe in Duars of Paschimbanga, India
/ Ajiita Sarkar, AP Das / Recent Studies in Biodiversity and Traditional Knowledge in India, 2011: pp 311-314 /
SBN: 978-81-920386-1-2
USE OF INDIGENOUS PLANTS IN TRADITIONAL HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS AND ECONOMIC USE BY MISHING TRIBE OF JORHAT, ASSAM, INDIA / Amit Pandey, Shweta Singh, Rita Singh, Rajashree G Mavinkurve / World Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2015; 4(8): pp 1277-1289 /
ISSN: 2278-4357
Leaves of P. pubinerve and T. latifolia are promising natural packaging materials / Li Ren / Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden: Chinese Academy of Scienced, 2014
Medicinal Formulations of a Kanda Tribal Healer — A Tribe on the Verge of Disappearance in Bangladesh / Mohammed Rahmatullah, Umma Ayman, Fatema Akter, Mridul Sarker, Rolee Sifa et al / AJTCAM: African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013; 10(2): pp 213-222 / PMID: 24146444 / DOI: 10.4314/ajtcam.v10i2.5
Evaluation of ethnobotanical knowledge in Komkar-Adi Biocultural Landscape of Eastern Himalayan Region of India / Momang Taram, Dipankar Borah, Abhaya Prasad Das et al / Asian Journal of Ethnobiology, 2020; 3(2): pp 70-87 / eISSN: 2580-4537 / DOI: 10.13057/asianjethnobiol/y030204
Local Wisdom and Diversity of Medicinal Plants in Cha Miang Forest in Mae Kampong Village, Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Their Potential for Use as Osteoprotective Products / Treethip Sukkho, Chartchai Khanongnuch, Saisamorn Lumyong, Jetsada Ruangsuriya et al / Plants, 11(11) /
DOI: 10.3390/plants11111492
Phrynium pubinerve: Tong tying / Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden
Phrynium pubinerve / Medicinal Plants & Herbal Remedies of Meghalaya
Diversity of plant species for food coloring in Vietnam / Nguyen Thi Luong, Nguyen Van Hop, Nguyen Van Quy, Vo Minh Hoan / NUSANTARA BIOSCIENCE, 2023; 15(1): pp 95-105 / pISSN: 2087-3948 /
eISSN: 2087-3956  / DOI: 10.13057/nusbiosci/m150112

DOI: It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

                                                            List of Understudied Philippine Medicinal Plants
                                          New plant names needed
The compilation now numbers over 1,300 medicinal plants. While I believe there are hundreds more that can be added to the collection, they are becoming more difficult to find. If you have a plant to suggest for inclusion, native or introduced, please email the info: scientific name (most helpful), local plant name (if known), any known folkloric medicinal use, and, if possible, a photo. Your help will be greatly appreciated.

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