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Family Araceae

Arrow leaf
Syngonium podophyllum Schott

Scientific names Common names
Pothos auritus Willd. ex Schult. Syngonium
Syngonium affine Schott American evergreen (Engl.)
Syngonium amazonicum Engl. Arrow leaf (Engl.)
Syngonium decipiens Schott Arrowhead vine (Engl.)
Syngonium gracile (Miq.) Schott Goosefoot plant (Engl.)
Syngonium podophyllum Schott Nephthytis (Engl.)
Syngonium poeppigii Schott Whitefly (Engl.)
Syngonium riedelianum Schott  
Syngonium ruizii Schott  
Syngonium ternatum Gleason  
Syngonium vellzoanum Schott  
Syngonium willdenowii Schott  
Syngonium xanthophilum Schott  
Xanthosoma gracile Miq.  
Syngonium podophyllum Schott is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
BANGLADESH: Dhobol-kochu.
GERMAN: Eselskopf, Fussblatt, Veränderliche Purpurtüte.
POHNPEI: Selkesingketieu.
SURINAM: Pah-ke-rah pah-nah; Kam-hi-det.

Gen info
Syngonium is a genus of about 36 species of flowering plants in the Araceae family.

Syngonium podophyllum is a perennial vine growing to a height of 10-20 meters. Petioles are slender. Leaves are arrow-shaped, thin, green and undulating. Leaves change shape as they mature, becoming bigger and lobed.

- Recently introduced to the Philippines.
- Native to Mexico and Costa Rica.

- In Florida, USA, considered a destructive invader. (19)

- Analysis of volatile oil by GC/MS yielded forty-three compounds. Main compounds were alpha-ionone, geranyl acetone, ß-ionone, dithdroactinidiolide, hexadecanoic acid, phytol, and linoleic acid, among others, together with carbonyl chemicals, fatty acid, and hydrocarbon. (8)
- Phytochemical screening of leaves yielded alkaloids and saponins. (11)
- Phytochemical screening of acetate extract of dried leaf samples yielded the presence of flavonoids, terpenoids, reducing sugars, alkaloids, and saponins. Total phenolic and flavonoid contents were 3.67 ± 0.02 mg propyl galate equivalent and 3.23 ± 0.02 mg quercetin equivalents per gram of sample. (see study below) (12)
- Phytochemical analysis of methanol extract and fractions of leaves yielded alkaloids, tannins, resins, flavonoids, and steroids. (see study below) (17)

- Arrowhead vine is a strong climber, easily reaching the tops of trees, potentially making trees top-heavy and more susceptible to toppling in a strong wind. (19)
- Studies suggest antibacterial, antifungal,antioxidant,analgesic, anti-inflammatory, cytotoxic, anticancer, air-purifying, antihypertensive properties.

Parts utilized
Bark, roots, leaves.

• No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
• In Belize, roots and bark used in traditional medicine for treatment of superficial and deep wounds.
• In Central American, used for various skin disorders.
• In Suriname, sap is swabbed into the cavity of an aching tooth to relieve pain. Decoction of crush leaves use as wash to treat stomachache. (13)
• In Bangladesh, whole plant considered tonic; used for dermatitis. (14)
Indoor Plant / Air Purifier: One of the plants studied and found effective in helping to remove indoor air pollutants.

Antibacterial: A study was done on 21 extracts of seven plants used in wound healing, including Syngonium piodophyllum leaves and bark, to evaluate antibacterial properties against strains of E coli, P aeruginosa, S aureus and E faecalis. Almost all the extracts showed some growth inhibition of one or more bacterial strains. Antibacterial activity was reported for the first time for Syngonium podophyllum.   (1)
Anti-Inflammatory: Extracts of seven herbal drugs used in Central American folk medicined were evaluated for their topical anti-inflammatory activity against Croton oil-induced ear edema in mice. All the extracts, including S podophyllum induced dose-dependent edema reduction, presenting potential sources of principles with high anti-inflammatory activity. (4)
Antibacterial / Antioxidant / Cytotoxicity / Hepatotoxic / Leaves: Study evaluated the in vitro antioxidant, antibacterial, and cytotoxic potential of Syngonium podophyllum and Eichhornia crassipes leaf aqueous extracts and their in vivo effect of oxidative stress and hepatic biomarkers in isoniazid induced rats. Both extracts showed considerable antibacterial activity against Proteus vulgaris, Salmonella typhi, and Bordetella bronchiseptica. SP showed 51% cytotoxicity against lung cancer (NCI-H322) cell line. SP showed a phenolic content of 5.36 ± 0.32 PGE/g. Both showed 13%-65% protection against lipid peroxidation in rat tissue. However the S. podophyllum extract was found to be hepatotoxic. (6)
Cytotoxicity / Leaves: Study evaluated the cytotoxic potential and phytochemical screening of S. podophyllum leaves and X. safittifolium rhizomes. Among all extracts, Syngonium podophyllum leaves showed the highest cytotoxic potential with LD50 value of 16.67 µg/ml. (7)
Isoschaftoside / Potential Antihypertensive: Study investigated the in vitro effects of isoschaftoside isolated from Syngonium podophyllum on pig kidney Na+, K+, ATpase. Isoschaftoside significantly decreased renal Na+K+ATpase. Results suggest a promising compound for the treatment of hypertension. (9)
• Antioxidant / Antimicrobial / Anticancer / Leaves: Study of ethyl acetate leaf extract reducing ability in the range of 0.170-0.350. Extract showed moderate DPPH radical scavenging potential (50%) and metal ion chelating ability (55%) at higher concentrations. Extract showed 43% growth inhibition against lung cancer (NCI-H322) and 53% against breast cancer (T4D) lines. It showed considerable antibacterial activity by disc diffusion assay against Bacillus cereus, Streptococcus mutans, Proteus vulgaris, Salmonella typhi, and Brodetella bronchiseptica. (12)
• Analgesic / Anti-Inflammtory / Leaves: Study evaluated the analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities of methanol extract and various fractions of Syngonium podophyllum leaves. A methanol extract showed significantly higher (60.53%, p<0.001) analgesic activity in tail immersion test and marked inhibition (59.58%, p<0.01) of algesic in acetic acid induced writhing test. The ME extract also showed significant (71.11%, p<0.001) anti-inflammatory effect in carrageenan induced paw edema test. The analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects suggest a potential source of natural agents for treatment of diseases related to algesia and inflammation. (15)
• Antibacterial / Antifungal: Study evaluated the antibacterial and antifungal activities of methanol extracts of Melaleuca decora aerial parts and Syngonium podophyllum whole plant against various bacterial and fungi. Both plants exhibited potent antibacterial and antifungal activities. S podophyllum showed considerable activity against S. aureus with low activity for B. cereus and P. mirabilis. Both plants showed antifungal activity only against S. cerevisae. (16)
• Phytochemicals / Antioxidant / Leaves: Study evaluated the phytochemical constituents and antioxidant activities of various extracts and fractions of S. podophyllum leaves. Phytochemical analysis yielded alkaooids, tannins, resins, flavonoids and steroids. The methanol extract yielded the highest amount of TPC (10.55 mg of GAE/g of dried extract. The ME also showed highest radical scavenging activity (79.89%) by DPPH assay. Results suggest a promising source of natural antioxidants. (17)
• Positive Effect of Sawdust Vermicompost on Growth and Nutrition: Study evaluated the effects of four concentrations (9, 250, 500, and 1000 ppm) of sawdust vermicompost extract on growth and nutrition of S. podophyllum. Spraying on Syngonium plants resulted in significant growth. Pot plants treated with1000 ppm vermicompost extract exhibited higher height, leaf area, chlorophyll, shoot fresh weight, and shoot dry weight than control plants. Results suggest the sawdust vermicompost has positive effects on plant growth. (18)
• Green Synthesis / Silver Nanoparticles / Anticandidal Activity / Leaves: Study reports on the simple and economical synthesis of silver nanoparticles from leaf extract of S. podophyllum. The leaf extract showed strong antifungal activity against C. albicans. Results suggest potential application in medical and pharmaceutical fields for formulation of new drugs. (20)

Toxicity / Concerns
• All parts of the plant are considered poisonous and causes severe mouth pain if eaten.
Araceae contain calcium oxalate crystals, believed to cause intense local irritation on handling or consuming. Some attribute the reaction to other compounds present as the irritation is not seen in properly cooked plants, although the crystal persist after heating.
• Leaves are constantly shedding, and while the plant seem out of reach, fallen leaves may be nearby.
• Considered air-purifying, with health benefits, to boot, it is not an ideal plant in houses with children and pets.
• Poisoning in cats: The plant is highly toxic to felines. Signs of poisoning include dry heaving, vomiting, gagging, pawing at the mouth, excessive drooling, head shaking. The cat may also vocalize as the sap from the plant causes needle-like pain to the tongue, mouth, and throat. There is no known antidote. Prognosis is poor, but may be improved with veterinary attention. (22)

- Wild-crafted.
- Seeds in the cybermarket.

Updated October 2019 / July 2017 / April 2016

IMAGE SOURCE: Photo / File:Starr 070124-3835 Syngonium podophyllum.jpg / Forest & Kim Starr / 24 January 2007 / Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license / click on image to go source page / Wikimedia Commons

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Screening of anti-bacterial activity of medicinal plants from Belize (Central America)
/ A Camporese et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol 87, Issue 1, July 2003, Pages 103-107 / doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(03)00115-6 |
Syngonium / Wikipedia
Syngonium podophyllum (American Evergreen) / ZipcodeZoo
Screening of the topical anti-inflammatory activity of some Central American plants / S Sosa et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol 81, Issue 2, July 2002, Pages 211-215/ doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(02)00080-6
Syngonium podophyllum Schott / Synonyms / The Plant List
In Vitro Antioxidant, Antibacterial, and Cytotoxic Activity and In Vivo Effect of Syngonium podophyllum and Eichhornia crassipes Leaf Extracts on Isoniazid Induced Oxidative Stress and Hepatic Markers
/ Shashank Kumar, Ramesh Kumar, Astha Dwivedi, and Abhay K. Pandey* / Biomed Res Int. 2014; 2014 / doi: 10.1155/2014/459452
Comparative study of cytotoxic potential and phytochemical screening of Xanthosoma sagittifolium rhizome and Syngonium podophylam leaf / Md. Sarwar Hossain, Md. Sahab Uddin, Md. Moniruzzaman, Md. Asaduzzaman / Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies 2015; 3(3): 43-46
Study on chemical constituents of volatile oil from Whitefly (Syngonium podophyllum Schott) / Zhou Qiong, Liang Guangwen , Kong Chuihua / Natural Product Research and Development, 16(1):31-32,35 (2004)
In vitro effect of isoschaftoside isolated from Syngonium podophyllum on pig kidney Na+, K+-ATPase / Anne Caroline Candido GomesI,*; Luzia da Silva SampaioII; Paulo André da SilvaII; Marcelo Einicker LamasII; Cassia Mônica SakuraguiIII; Cleber Bomfim Barreto JuniorIV; Naomi Kato SimasV; Ricardo Machado KusterI / Quím. Nova, Vol 37, No 10 São Paulo 2014 / http://dx.doi.org/10.5935/0100-4042.20140257
Syngonium podophyllum (Arrowhead Plant) / 10 Magical Air Cleaning Plants
Phytochemical analysis of 50 selected plants found in the University Botanic Garden, Maseno, Kenya
for their chemotaxonomic values
/ Seline Omondi*, J. C. Omondi / Journal of Medicinal Herbs and Ethnomedicine, Vol 1, 2015
Preliminary Evaluation of 'Biological Activities and Phytochemical Analysis of Syngonium podophyllum Leaf / Kumar, Shashank; Dwivedi, Asthaa; Kumar, Ramesh; Pandey, Abhay / Natl. Acad. Sci. Lett. (March-April 2015) 38(2): 143-146 / DOI: 10.1007/s40009-014-0318-4
Syngonium podophyllum / Medicinal Plants of the Guianas (Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana) / botany.si.edu
A SURVEY OF MEDICINAL PLANTS USED BY KAVIRAJES OF CHALNA AREA, KHULNA DISTRICT, BANGLADESH / Mohammed Rahmatullah*, Dilara Ferdausi, Md. Ariful Haque Mollik, Rownak Jahan, Majeedul H. Chowdhury, Wahid Mozammel Haque / Afr. J. Trad. CAM (2010) 7 (2): 91 - 97 91
In-Vivo Screening for Analgesic and Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Syngonium podophyllum L.: A Remarkable Herbal Medicine / Md Sarwar Hossain, Md. Sahab Uddin, Md. Tanvir Kabir et al / Annual Research & Review in Biology, 2017; 16(3): pp 1-12 / DOI: 10.9734/ARRB/2017/35692
Antibacterial and Antifungal Activity of Melaleuca decora and Syngonium podophyllum / Saad Touqeer, Muhammad Asad Saeed et al / Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology, July 2014; 7(7): pp 776-778
In vitro Screening for Phytochemicals and Antioxidant Activities of Syngonium podophyllum L.: An Incredible Therapeutic Plant / MD. SARWAR HOSSAIN, MD. SAHAB UDDIN, MD. TANVIR KABIR, MST. MARIUM BEGUM, PARAS KOUSHAL, OSCAR HERRERA-CALDERON, RAUSHANARA AKTER, MD. ASADUZZAMAN and MOHAMED M. ABDEL-DAIM / Biomedical & Pharmacology Journal, 2017; 10(3): pp 1267-1277 / http://dx.doi.org/10.13005/bpj/1229
The effect of sawdust vermicompost extract on Syngonium podophyllum growth and nutrition / Ali Mahboub Khomami et al / Journal of Plant Nutrition. 2019; 42(4) / https://doi.org/10.1080/01904167.2018.1554071
Wildland Weeds: Arrowhead Vine, Syngonium podophyllum / E C Morgan, W A Overholt, K A Langeland, and Brent Sellers / IFAS Extension, University of Florida
Green synthesis of silver nanoparticles using leaf extract of common arrowhead houseplant and its anticandidal activity / Mohammad Yasir, Jaspreet Singh, Manish Kumar Tripathi, Pushpendra Singh, Rahul Shrivastava / Pharmacognosy Magazine, 2017; 13(52): pp 840-844 / DOI: 10.4103/0973-1296.224330
Peroxidase activity in leaves of Syngonium podophyllum following transition from in vitro to ex vitro conditions / Salame N, Zieslin N / Biologia Plantarum, 1994; 36(4): pp 619-622
Nephthytis Poisoning in Cats / WAG!


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