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Family Malvaceae / Sterculaceae
Commersonia bartramia (L.) Merr.
Shan ma shu

Scientific names Common names
Byttneria caledonica Turcz. Anilau-babae (Tagalog)
Byttneria hypoleuca Turcz. Anitap (Negrito)
Commersonia bartramia (L.) Merr. Kakaag (Ilokano)
Commersonia echinata J.R.Forst. & G.Forst. Brown kurrajong (Engl.)
Commersonia echinata var. bancroftii F.M.Bailey Scrub Christmas tree (Engl.)
Commersonia echinata var. javana Gagnep.  
Commersonia echinata var. platyphylla (Andrews) Gagnep.  
Commersonia javensis G.Don  
Commersonia platyphylla Andrews  
Commersonia platyphylla var. lechenaultii DC.  
Commersonia rhamnoides (Seem) Christenh. & Byng  
Muntingia bartramia L.  
Pimia rhamnoides Seem  
Restiaria echinata (J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.) Kuntze  
Restiaria echinata var.platyphylla (Andrews) Kuntze  
Commersonia bartramia (L.) Merr. is accepted. KEW: Plants of the World Online

Other vernacular names
AUSTRALIA: Brown kurrajong, Scrub Christmas tree.
CHINA: Shan ma shu.
FIJI: Sama, Samadina.
INDONESIA: Ki handeong, Blencong, Andila, Andor laut, Bayur.
MALAYSIA: Durian tupai, Mendarong gahaj, Rami hutan.
THAILAND: Chong let, Taa chai, Lang khao.

Gen info
- Brown kurrajong was first formally described by Carl Linnaeus in 1759 when it was given the name Muntingia bartramia in Amoenitates Academicae. In 1917, Elmer Drew Merrill changed it to Commersonia bartramia in his book, An Interpretation of Rumphius's Herbarium Amboinense. (3)
- Etymoloogy: The genus Commersonia was named after French naturalist Philibert Commerson, 1728-1773, a member of the Bougainville expedition. The species epithet bartramia was named after J. & W Bartam.

Commersonia bartramia is a densely stellate-pubescent small tree, up to 15 m tall; trunk 15-25 cm in diameter; twigs often flexuous. Leaves arranged spirally, simple; stipule palmatilobed, caducous; petiole 0.5-1.5 cm long; blade herbaceous, suborbicular-ovate-oblong, 6-30 cm x 2.5-25 cm, base cordate to subtruncate, often oblique, margin serrate-dentate or lobed, apex acutely acuminate, palmately veined, sparsely stellate-pubescent to nearly glabrous above. Inflorescence an axillary, leaf-opposed or terminal corymbose cyme; flowers bisexual, 5-merous; sepals connate, ovate, 3-3.5 mm long, white, often inrolled; petals white, with widened concave base (cap); receptacle flat; staminal tube short, not adnate to the petal, crowned by 5 subsessile or stalked stamens (opposite the petals) alternating with 5 petaline staminodes; staminodes triangular-lanceolate, at first coherent, concealing the ovary, afterwards apically recurved, acute, white; filaments distinct, anthers subglobose, accumbent against base of petals, 2- celled; ovary 5-celled, ovules 2-6 in each cell; styles 5, short. Fruit a globose, woody capsule, 2 - 2.5 cm in diameter (including stellate-hairy bristles), dehiscent loculicidally, 5-valved, with 1-2 seeds in each cell. (1)

Commersonia bartramis is a small tree or shrub up to 20 m tall, twigs with numerous white lenticels. Leaves ovate to broad-ovate, lamina mostly 6–15 cm long, 4–10 cm wide, ± entire to toothed with 4–6 teeth per cm, lower surface tomentose, yellowish to greenish grey; petiole usually 10–20 mm long. Staminodes pubescent, central lobe tomentose, shorter than petals, lateral lobes small, filiform, tomentose, attached to stamen filaments. Capsule 10–20 mm diam., bristles stellate-pubescent, 3–8 mm long. (2)

- Native to the Philippines.
- In grassands, brushwood, thickets, and secondary forests, up to 1250 m altitude.
- Also native to the Bismark Archipelago, Borneo, Cambodia, China, Fiji, Hainan, Jawa, Laos, Malaya, Maluku, Myanmar, New Caledonia, New Guinea, New South Wales, Queensland, Samoa, Santa Cruz Is., Sumatera, Thailand, Vietnam, Wallis-Futima Is. (3)
- Planted as ornamental in Australia.

- Study of dried, ground fruits macerated in methanol for phytoconstituents yielded two coumarins, scoparone (1), 6,8-dimethoxycoumarin (2), and three flavonoids, kaempferol (3), chalcone (4), apigenin 5-O-glucoside (5). (7)

- Studies have suggested cytotoxic, anticancer properties.

Parts used
Bark. leaves.


- No information found on edibility of fruit.

- In Fuji, Japan, used to treat coughs and colds, rheumatism, kidney troubles and dysentery. (7)
- In north Sumatra, Indonesia, bark used for treatment of sprue. (8)
- The Batak Toba tribe of North Sumatra, Indonesia, use leaves for treatment of malaria and abdominal pain.
- Fiber / Crafts: In the Philippines and Indonesia, the bast is made into general purpose ropes. In Sumatra, it is woven into mats.
In the time of Dutch East Indies Company, fuses were spun from the bast. In New Britain, Papua New Guinea, the bast fiber is used as string for women's girdles. (1) Australian aborigenes use the cordage for making fish and kangaroo nets.
- Wood: Light in weight, soft, and close-grained. Used for light construction, fishing floats, etc.
- Fuel: Makes a good source of firewood. In the Bismark Archipelago, used for making headbands. (1)

Study in a mouse model evaluated the cytotoxicity and chemical sensitization of Commersonia bartramia (CB) and Dendropanax morbifera (DM) extracts on gynecologic and colon cancers and their potential for immunotherapy. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction was conducted to determine alternations in drug-resistant genes. The extracts from DM and CB showed specific cytotoxicity to malignant cell lines. CB improved sensitization to endometrial cancer. Results suggest both extracts could be novel agents for immunotherapy and chemical sensitization in gynecologic and colon cancers. (5)
Copper Nanoparticles: Study reports on the eco-friendly synthesis of Cu nanoparticles using the plant extract as green reducing agent. Cu/Al2O3NPs can be recovered and reused in a reduction reaction several times without loss of catalytic activity. (6)
Cytotoxicity: In a study of crude alcoholic extracts of ten alkaloid-bearing plants for biological activity, Commersonia bartramia displayed cytotoxicity in brine shrimp lethality bioassay as well as inhibition of crown gall tumor growth. (9)


March 2023

                                                 PHOTOS / ILLUSTRATIONS
IMAGE SOURCE: Photograph: Commersonia bartramia / Tatiana Gerus / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic / click on image to go to source page / Wikipedia
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Photo: Commersonia bartramia / Flowers and Fruits / Copyright © 2011 by Leonardo L Co [ref. DOL30394] / Non-Commercial Use / click on image to go to source page / Phytoimages.siu.edu

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Commersonia bartramai / M. Brink and R P Escobin (Editors) / Plant Resources of South-East Asia

Commersonia bartramia / AsianPlantNet
Brown Kurrajong / iNaturalist
Commersonia bartramia / KEW: Plants of the World Online
Analysis of Anticancer Activity and Chemical Sensitization Effects of Dendropanax morbifera and  Commersonia bartramia Extracts / Seongmin Kim, Sung Gyu Park, Yoon Jae Song et al / Antican Res., 2018; 38(7): pp 3853-3861 / DOI: 10.21873/anticanres.12669
Green synthesis of Cu/Al2O3 nanoparticles as efficient and recyclable catalyst for reduction of 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine, Methylene blue and Congo red / Mahmoud Nasrollahzadeh, Zahra Issaabadi, S Mohammad Sajadi / Composite Part B: Engineering, 2019; Vol 166: pp 112-119 /
DOI: 10.1016/j.compositesb.2018.11.113
Chemical Constituents from Fruit of Commersonia bartramia / Nik Khairunissa, Nik Abdullah Zawari, Zetty Shafiqa Othman, Nurunajah Ab.Ghani / The Open Conference Proceedings Journal, 2013; 4: 153 /
DOI: 10.2174/2210289201304010153
Ethnobotanical study and phytochemical screening of medicinal plants on Karonese people from North Sumatra, Indonesia / T A Aththorick, L Berutu / IOP Conf. Series: Journal of Physics: Conf. Series 1116 (2018) 052008 / DOI: 10.1088/1742-6596/1116/5/052008
Biological screening of ten alkaloid-bearing plants from Palauig, Zambales / Mary Ann Gonzalez, Ma. Elizabeth G Buenafe, Mafel C Ysrael / Acta Manilana, 1993; 41: pp 17-22
Medicinal plants used by the Batak Toba Tribe in Peadundung Village, North Sumatra, Indonesia / Marina Silalahi, Nisyawati, Dingse Pandiangan / BIODIVERSITAS, 2019; 20(2): pp 510-525 / pISSN: 1412-033X / eISSN: 2085-4722 / DOI: 10.13057/biodiv/d200230

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

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