Himbabao is a medium-sized shed tree growing to a height of 15 meters with a trunk diameter of 30 centimeters. Bark is smooth. Leaves are alternate with a pointed apex and rounded base. Lower leaf surface is hairy. Flowers are very small, borne on long, slender, spike-like flowering branches. Inflorescences are pistillate and staminate borne on separate plants.
Note: While reportedly rare in the Northern Luzon, Himbabao is common in the Quezon area. Local describe two species by flowering and fruiting characteristics: Himbabao, with its long slender, spike-like flowers) and Himbabaong-lalaki, with its gray, puckered and wrinkled fruit. There is disagreement on whether it is a flower or fruit. There is also differing opinions on blogs: some referring to the fruit-bearing tree as male alukon and the spike flowering variety to alukon, and vice-versa. Or, perhaps, they are separate species.
- Found throughout the Philippines, in thickets and second growth forests, at low and medium altitudes.
- Also found in Indonesia.
- Flowers (per 100 g) yields water (86.8 g), energy (52 kcal), protein (2.9 g), fat (0.9 g), carbohydrate (8.1 g), fiber (1.5 g), ash (1.3 g), Ca (278 mg), phosphorus (75 mg), iron (4.3 mg), carotene (300 µg), vitamin A (50 µg), and thiamin (0.06 mg).
- Extracts yield alkaloid, flavonoid, unsaturated sterol and triterpene, steroid glycoside, cyanogenic glycoside, tannin and phenol.
- GC-MS analysis evaluated various extracts of leaves (n-hexane, ethyl acetate, and methanol) for
biologically active compounds. Of the three major compounds, a methanolic extract yielded lupeol (21.973%), tritriacontane (16.670%) and γ-sitosterol (14.754%), the n-hexane crude extract yielded squalene (29.028%), tetracosane (8.626%) and triacontane (7.341%); ethyl acetate crude extract yielded phytol (20.288%), 1,2,3-propanetriol, monoacetate (21.211%) and squalene (6.8%). (3)
- Study of leaves yielded
epitaraxerol (1), lupenone (2), squalene (3), β-carotene (4), vitamin K (5) and
β-sitosterol (6), while the flowers yielded 2, 6, and lupeol (7), betulin aldehyde fatty acid and ester (8), and lupeol fatty acid ester (9). (see study below) (4)
- An ethyl acetate leaf extract yielded 3 major compounds: 1,2,3-propanetriol, monoacetate (21.21%), phytol (20.28%), and squalene (6.85%). (see study below) (5)
- Phytochemical screening of leaves yielded carbohydrates, reducing sugars, flavonoids,
tannins, alkaloids, steroids and terpenoids. (7)
- Studies have shown antimicrobial, antifungal, cytotoxic properties.
- Flower spikes are edible; used in meat and vegetable dishes like pinakbet and bulanglang. When cooked, the flower becomes gooey and slimy like okra.
- No recorded folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- In rural Quezon, excessive use of the flower or fruit is believed to cause elevation in blood pressure and aggravation of arthritis.
- Wood: Timber used for paneling, furniture, cabinetry, gun-stocks, musical instruments, boat planking, butchers' block.
- Rope: Fibrous bark used in making rope.
• Biologically Active Compounds: - GC-MS analysis of various extracts of leaves (n-hexane, ethyl acetate, and methanol) yielded
biologically active compounds with known pharmacologic properties: lupeol, anticancer and anti-inflammatory; squalene, antioxidant, chemopreventive, antitumor and hypolipidemic; tetracosane, cytotoxic against tumor cell lines; and triacontane, antibacterial, antidiabetic and antitumor. The biologic activities support the medicinal applications of the plant. (see constituents above) (3)
• Antifungal / Antimicrobial / Flowers and Leaves: Study of leaves and flowers yielded 8 compounds. Compounds 1, 2, and 8 showed moderate antifungal activity against C. albicans and low antimicrobial activity against T. mentagrophytes, A. niger, S. aureus, E. coli, P. aeruginosa, and B. subtilis. (see constituents above) (4)
• Cytotoxicity / Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HEPG2) Cell Line: Study evaluated the compounds from ethyl acetate leaf extract of Broussonetia luzonica for cytotoxicity against hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines (HepG2). Study yielded three major bioactive compounds: 1,2,3-propanetriol, monoacetate (21.21%), phytol (20.28%) and squalene (6.85%). MTT assay of the EA extract at different concentrations showed marked inhibition of HepG2. Compared to doxorubin with IC50 of 5.068 µg/mL, the EA extract exhibited greater cytotoxic effect against HepG2 Cell Lines with IC50 of 1.118 µg/mL. Results suggest a promising chemotherapeutic potential for the plant. (5)
• Anti-Obesity / Leaves: Study evaluated the use of air-dried crude methanolic extract of Broussonetia luzonicus leaves to prevent the development of obesity in male Swiss mice. The extract was administered by oral gavage for 28 days. Results suggested that the methanolic extracts of B. luzonicus leaves is just as effective as orlistat in decreasing adipocyte size. (6)
- Herbal teas and supplements in the cybermarket.