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Family Primulaceae / Myrsinaceae
Embelia philippinensis A.DC.

Scientific names Common names
Embelia philippinensis A.DC. Balinaknak (Tag., Pamp.)
Riibesiodes philippinense (A.DC.) Kuntze Besudak (Benguet)
Samara philippinensis S.Vidal Banarok (Ilk.)
  Binurok (Ilk.)
  Bisalak (Igt.)
  Bisolak (Igt.)
  Bisudak (Igt.)
  Dekai-dekaiang (Bukidnon)
  Dikai-dikaiang (Bukidnon)
  Dikai (Tag.)
  Dikal (Tag.)
  Kawilan (Bukidnon)
  Palongpong (Ilk.)
  Pongpong (Bontoc)
Embelia philippinensis A.DC. is an accepted name. The Plant List

Embelia philippinensis is a woody vine with smooth and glabrous branches and spiny stems when old, growing to a length of 4 meters and a diameter of 5 to 15 mm. Leaves are alternate, elliptic, leathery and smooth, 7, 3.5 to 4.2 cm wide to 14 cm long, acuminate, with entire margins, acute base, prominent midrib, distinct lateral veins, the upper surface shiny and dark green, and light green undersurface. Fruit is a berry with an apiculate style, up to 0.5 cm in diameter, red when ripe, edible, with a sweet-sour taste. (6)

- Endemic in the Philippines.
- Sparsely distributed in northern Luzon and southern Mindanao.
- In open or partially shaded secondary forests at low and medium altitudes.

- GC-MS study of aqueous and methanol extracts of roots yielded 9,12-octadecadienoic acid, methyl ester; eicosane; hexadecane; hexadecanoic acid, methyl ester; 9,12-octadecatrienoic acid, (ZZ); 9,12,15-octadecatrienoic acid (ZZZ); n-hexadecanoic acid; squalene; phenol; 2,4-bis (1,1-dimethyl); and 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid, bis (20methylropyl) ester. (see study below) (3)

Studies have suggested antioxidant, antibacterial, anticoagulant properties.

Parts used
Whole plant, roots, leaves.


- Fruits are edible, sweet-sour in taste. The fleshy pericarp of the ripe fruit is eaten raw. (5)
- Leaves used as food by the Ayta people in Porac, Pampanga province. (5)
- Leaves cooked with fish, meat, pr vegetables to give a sour-flavoured taste. (6)
- In the Philippines, the Talaandig tribe of Bukidnon use the plant for the treatment of tumors, cysts, and some cancers. (3)
- Tying: Mature fresh stems are used as tying material for temporary purposes. (6)

- Mummification process: in the Philippines Cordilleras, Embelia philippinensis is one of the plants used for preservation of dead bodies in the mummification process. After application of the plant extracts, the corpse is exposed to smoke from a fire beneath the dead body seated on a death chair called sangadil. In the municipality of Kabayan in Benguet province, these preserved bodies are called" fire mummies." (see study below) (4)

Antioxidant / Roots:
Study evaluated the antioxidant activity of aqueous and methanol extracts of roots using DPPH assay for radical scavenging activity. While both extracts showed high DPPH inhibitory activity at high concentrations, the aqueous extract showing higher inhibition than the methanol extract. GC-MS analysis yielded yielded bioactive compounds with known antioxidant properties. (see constituents above) (3)
Antibacterial / Mummification Preservative: In the Cordilleras, herbs are used in the mummification process to preserve the dead bodies. Study evaluated the herbs used in the mummification process for antibacterial potential. The herbs tested were bayabas (Psidium guajava), diwdiw or tibig (Ficus nota), patani (phaseolus lunatus), and besudak (Embelia philippinensis). Antibacterial assays of ethanolic extracts of the plants showed that E. philippinensis and F. nota have antibacterial properties which suggest they may contribute to the preservation of the Kabayan fire mummies. (4)
Anticoagulant / Leaves: Study evaluated the anticoagulant property of 70% ethanol extract of Embelia philippinensis leaves. Different extract concentrations were added to freshly collected anticoagulant-free blood samples. Results showed concentrations of 0.50, 0.75, and 1 ml/ml showed anticoagulant activity. (7)


Updated February 2023
January 2021

                                                 PHOTOS / ILLUSTRATIONS
IMAGE SOURCE: / Photo / Primulaceae: Embelia phlippinensis Fruits / Copyright © 2014 by P.B. Pelser & J.F. Barcelona (contact: pieter.pelser@canterbury.ac.nz) [ref. DOL52015] / Non-Commercial Use / Phytoimages.siu.edu
IMAGE SOURCE: / Photo / Primulaceae: Embelia phlippinensis Leaf / Copyright © 2014 by P.B. Pelser & J.F. Barcelona (contact: pieter.pelser@canterbury.ac.nz) [ref. DOL117439] / Non-Commercial Use / Phytoimages.siu.edu
IMAGE SOURCE: / Photo / Primulaceae: Embelia phlippinensis Flowers / Copyright © 2014 by P.B. Pelser & J.F. Barcelona (contact: pieter.pelser@canterbury.ac.nz) [ref. DOL117456] / Non-Commercial Use / Phytoimages.siu.edu

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Embelia philippinensis A.DC. / Synonyms / The Plant List

Antioxidant Activity, Total Phenolic Content, and GC-MS Analysis of the Root of Kawilan (Embelia philippinensis A.DC.) / Nyzar Mabeth Odchimar, Olga Nuneza, Mylene Uy et al / Bulletin of Emvironment, Pharmacology, and Life Sciences, April 2016; 5(5): pp 42-47 / CODEN: BEPLAD
A Glimpse of the Fire Mummies of Kabayan, Benguet, Luzon, Philippines and the Role of Pants Associiated with the Mummification Process /Teodora D Balangcod / Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, April 2018; 17(2): pp 307-313
Useful Plants of Selected Ayta Communities from Porrac, Paampanga, Twenty Years after the Eruption of Mt. Pinatubo / Elena M Ragragio, Cynthia Neri Sayas and Jasper John A Obico / Philippine Journal of Science, Vol 142, Special Issue / ISSN: 0031-7683
Embelia philippinensis: Food and fruit-bearing forest species (Examples from Southeaster Asia) / Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations / Monographs prepared by the Forest Research Institute of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Laguna, Philippines / M-32 ISBN 92-5-102153-8
In vitro anticoagulant property of Embelia philippinensis leaves extract  / Marji Sim J Raganit, Mikee Laine M Allan, Danz Harvey B Vellasco et al /

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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