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Family Moraceae
Creeping fig
Ficus pumila L.
P'i-li
CLIMBING FIG

Scientific names  Common names 
Ficus repens Hort. Creeping fig (Engl.) 
Ficus pumila L. Climbing fig (Engl.)
  Creeping rubber plant (Engl.) 
  Fig ivy (Engl.)
  P'i-li (Chin.) 
  Mu-lien / wood lotus (Chin.)

Botany
Creeping fig is a prostrate or climbing shrub; when young, flattened, creeping and clinging close to adobe walls, woods, etc., and ascending when old with ultimate branches 30 - 80 cm long. Leaves are more or less two-ranked, on very short petioles, ovate, 1.5 to 3 cm long with obtuse tip, round or heart-shaped based and with entire or slightly wavy margins. Leaves on the erect branches are very much larger, oblong, 5 to 10 cm long and on long petioles. Pedicels are axillary, 2.5 to 4 cm in diameter. Flowers are minute, unisexual, arranged inside a fleshy receptacle called syconium. Syconium are bell-shaped, 2.5 to 4 cm in diameter. Fruits are achenes, borne in the axils of leaves, somewhat pear-shaped, 4 to 6 cm long.

Distribution
Grown widely as an ornamental plant or creeper; vigorously growing on adobe and concrete walls.

Parts utilized
· Stem, leaves and fruits.
· Stem and leaves: Collect year round, rinse, cut into pieces; sun-dry.
· Fruits: Collect May to October; discard inside contents; sun-dry.

Constituents and properties
· Gum from the plant yields glucose, fructose and arabinose.
· Fruit contains protein and latex.

Properties
· Fruits are emmenagogue; sperm-invigorating, and lactation-inducing.
· Stem and leaves are stomachic; invigorates the circulation; refrigerant and anti-infectious.

Uses
Folkloric
• Fruits: For bed-wetting, impotency, orchitis.; lack of milk secretion and irregular menstruation.
• Decoction of fruits (9-24 g), stem and dried leaves (9-15 g) for rheumatism, arthritis and pains due to sprains.
Okinawans in Japan use F. pumila as herbal medicine or beverage to treat diabetes and high blood pressure.
• In China, leaves used for painful and swollen piles. Leaves also used for dysentery, hematuria and locally to carbuncles. Whole plant used for spermatorrhea and as a galactagogue. Also used for impotence, menstrual disorders, dysuria, dyschezia, rheumatism, lumbago, boils and impetigo.

Studies
Antioxidant / Flavonoid Glycosides / Rutin: Four flavonoid glycosides were isolated from the leaves of Ficus pumila. Of these, rutin showed the strongest antioxidant activity in DPPH radical scavenging assay and superoxide radical inhibition assay.
Sesquiterpenoid Glucosides: Three new sesquiterpenoid glucosides, pumilasides A, B and C were isolated from the fruit of F pumila.
Antimicrobial / Antimutagenic Activity / Furanocoumarin Derivatives: Study isolated 2 compounds – bergapten and oxypeucedanin hydrate. Bercapten inhibited the growth of S aureus, E coli, S typhi. Oxypeucedanin inhibited the growth of S typhi. On antimutagenic testing, both reduced the number of micronucleated polychromatic erythrocytes induced by mitocin C, bercapten by 44% and oxypeucedanin hydrate by 74%.

Availability
Wild-crafted.


Last Update June 2011

Photo © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Creeping fig at Longwood Gardens / File:Ficus pumila 1.jpg / Mark Pellegrini / 28 April 2009 / Creative Commons / Wikimedia Commons

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
(1)
Antioxidant flavonoid glycosides from the leaves of Ficus pumila L.
/ Cheng Ning Abraham Leong, Masakuni Tako, Isao Hanashiro and Hajime Tamaki / Food Chemistry • Vol 109, Issue 2, 15 July 2008, Pages 415-420 / doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2007.12.069
(2)
Three new sesquiterpenoid glucosides of Ficus pumila fruit / Chemical & pharmaceutical bulletin / 2000-Jan; vol 48 (issue 1) : pp 77-80
(3)
Chinese Medicinal Herbs / Shizhen Li, Porter Smith, G. A. Stuart
(4)
Medicinal Plants in Vietnam

(5)
Bioactive furanocoumarin derivatives from Ficus pumila / Juan E A et al / Philippine Journal of Science


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