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Family Leeaceae
Leea indica (Burm. f.) Merr.

Yan tuo

Scientific names Common names
Aquilicia otillis Gaertn. Amamali (Bis.)
Leea biserrata Miq. Hamamali (Bis.)
Leea celebica C.B.Clarke. Mali (Tag.)
Leea divaricata T.&B.. Mamali (Bag., Bis.)
Leea expansa W.G.Craib Nutub (Sul.)
Leea fulginosa Miq. Bandicoot berry (Engl.)
Leea gigantea Griff.  
Leea gracilis Lauterb.  
Leea indica (Burm. f.) Merr.  
Leea naumannnii Engl.  
Leea novoguineensis Val.  
Leea ottilis (Gaertn.) DC.  
Leea palambanica Miq.  
Leea pubescens Zipp. ex Miq.  
Leea ramosii Merr.  
Leea roehrsiana Sanders ex Masters  
Leea sambucina Willd.  
Leea sambucina var. biserrata (Miq.) Miq.  
Leea sumatrana Miq.  
Leea sundaica Miq.  
Leea umbracuifera C.B.Clarke  
Leea viridiflora Planch.  
Staphylea indica Burm. f.  
Quisumbing's compilation lists three species under the Genus Leea: Leea aculeata (mali-mali), Leea indica (mali), and Leea manillensis (abang-abang).
Leea indica (Burm.f.) Merr. is an accepted name. The Plant List

Other vernacular names
BENGALI: Kurkur, Kukur jiwa, Achila gach, Arengi.
CHINESE: Yan tuo.
HINDI: Kikur jihwa.
INDONESIA: Li tuwa, Kayu tuwa.
KANNADA: Gadhapatri.
MALAYSIA: Mali-mali, Merbati padang, Jolok-jolok.
MARATHI: Karkani.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Paikoro, Dadoro, Warawa.
SRI LANKA: Burulla, Gurulla.
TAMIL: Nalaya, Ottannalam.
THAILAND: Katangbai, Bangbaai ton, Na tor kor.
VIETNAM: C[ur] r[oos]i den.

Mali is a shrub or small tree, up to 10 meters high. Leaves are pinnate or tripinnate, 90 to 120 centimeters long. Leaflets are extremely variable in size and shape. Flowers are greenish-white, sepals 2 to 3 by 3 to 4 millimeters, smooth to pubescent. Fruit is a small berry, dark purple to black, 5 to 10 millimeters in diameter, and 6-seeded.

- In thickets at low altitudes in Mindoro, Mindanao, Panay, and the Sulu Archipelago.
- Rare in the Philippines.

- Also occurs in India to Indo-China, the Malay Peninsula, Java, Sumatra, and Borneo.

- Study of leaves of Leea indica yielded twenty-three known chemical compounds including 11 hydrocarbons, phthalic acid, palmitic acid, 1-eicosanol, solanesol, farnesol, three phthalic acid esters, gallic acid, lupeol, ß-sitosterol and ursolic acid. (2)
- Phytochemical screening isolation a novel carotenoid, leeatene, and nine other known compounds including squalene, hexadecanoyl-0-amyrin, vitamin E, 1 - tetratriacontanol, P-amyrin, 3-hydroxy-12-oleanen-28-oic acid, Psitosteryl- P-D-glucopyranoside, 2a,3a,23-trihydroxy-12-oleanen-28-oiacc id and phloridzin.
- An ethanolic extract of roots yielded alkaloids, carbohydrates,steroids, triterpenoids, flavonoids, glycosides, anthraquinone glycosides, tannins, resins, and saponins. Chemical entities characterized included ß-sitosterol, lupeol, di-n-octyl phthalate, ß-amyrin, gallic acid, quercitrin, dibutyl phthalate and a-tocopheral.
- Ethanol leaf extract yielded a total phenolic content of 24.00 ± 0.81 g GAE/100g, total flavonoid content of 194.68 ± 2.43 g quercetin/100g, and total antioxidant capacity of 106.61 ± 1.84 g AA/100 g dry extract. (see study below) (26)
- Phytochemical screening of leaves yielded alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides, phenols, lignins, saponins, sterols, tannins, arthraquinone, and reducing sugar. Methanol and ethanol extracts showed higher phenolic content than aqueous extract. (see study below) (27)
- Crude methanol extract of leaves yielded alkaloids, glycosides, steroids, tannins, flavonoids, saponins, reducing sugars, and gums. (see study below) (28)

- Root considered cooling, digestive, thirst-quenching.
- Elsewhere considered anticancer, antioxidant, antidiabetic, antidiarrheal, antidysenteric, antispasmodic.
- Stud
ies have shown antioxidant, anticancer, antimicrobial, cytotoxic, analgesic properties.

Parts used
Roots, leaves.


- Tender shoots used as vegetable.
- In Sri Lanka, leaves cooked and mixed with rice as medicinal treatment.
- Decoction of roots used in colic and for relieving thirst.
- In Goa, roots used for diarrhea and chronic dysentery.
- Young shoots chewed for relief of severe cough.
- Decoction of shoots applied to sores.
- Root decoction used for stomach ache, colic, dysentery and diarrhea.
- Roasted leaves applied to the head to relieve vertigo.
- Leaf juice applied on the head for dizziness or vertigo.
- Juice of young leaves used as digestive.
- In La Reunion, roots used as sudorific.
- Jakuns reported to use poultice of leaves for body pains.
- Paste of roots applied to relieve skin complaints with rashes and allergic reactions.

- In Sri Lanka, leaves cooked and mixed with rice (Heenati haal) and use for treating hemorrhoids, intestinal worms, etc. Externally, leaves bruised in gingelly oil used as dressing for wounds and ulcers. Juice of berries applied to warts. Pith of stems used as diuretic and for treatment of acute cystitis and strangury.
- In Bangladesh, the Marma of Chittagong Hill Tracts combine the root paste of plant with roots of Orecnide integrifolia and Cissus repens to treat bubo and boils. (Yusuf et al. 2009).
- In
Ayurveda, used in the treatment of ringworm, wounds, ulcers, warts, cystitis, diarrhea, dysentery, burns, dental caries, hemorrhoids, and fever.
- In Thailand, decoction of root and stem used as potion for diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and gastric ulcer.   (32)

Study of extracts from Leea indica and Spermacoce articularis showed strong DPPH free radical scavenging activity comparable with standard quercetin, BHT and vitamin C. Leea indica also showed strong inhibitory activity on nitric oxide production. (1)
Anti-Cancer / A
poptosis / Cervical Cancer Cell Line: Several extracts and fractions were evaluated for cytotoxicity on various cell lines (Ca Ski, MCF-7, MDA-MB-435, KB, HEP G2, WRL 68 and Vero) by MTT assay. The ethyl acetate fraction showed the greatest cytotoxic effect against Ca Ski cervical cancer cells via induction of growth suppression and apoptosis effects. It presents a potential as an anticancer drug. (3)
Anthraquinones / Cytotoxic / Antioxidant: A total 43 derivatives of anthraquinone have been successfully synthesized including damnacanthal and nordamnacanthal. A total 22 anthraquinone derivatives showed cytotoxicity against the cell-lines used
, with 2-bromomethyl-l,3-dimethoxyanthraquinone (A-34) showing most cytotoxicity against all the cell-lines. Only two synthesized anthraquinones, damnacanthal (A-46) and nordamnacanthal (A-37) showed strong antioxidant activity comparable with vitamin E. (4)
Essential Oil Constituents / Antimicrobial: Study showed more than 95% of the oil consisted of esters of phthalic acid. The essential oil showed moderate antibacterial activity against three Gram positive and two Gram negative and three pathogenic fungi.
Phenolic Content / Antioxidant / Leaves: Study showed a strong correlation between total phenolic content and antioxidant activity and showed significant differences among the leaf extracts. The crude ethanol and its fractions showed the highest phenolic content and antioxidant activity. (6)
Antitumor Activity / Ehrlich Ascites Carcinoma: Study evaluated a crude methanolic extract of leaves of L. indica for antitumor, antioxidant, and cytotoxic activity. Against Ehrlich Ascites Carcinoma cells in Swiss albino mice, there was a significant decrease in tumor weight, increase in life span and reduced tumor cell growth rate. On DPPH assay, the extract showed dose-dependent moderate antioxidant activity. On brine shrimp lethality assay the extract showed significant cytotoxic activity. (7)
Cytotoxic Activity / Leaves: Study of an ethanol leaf extract by brine shrimp lethality bioassay method showed significant cytotoxic effect. (8)
Analgesic Activity / Leaves: Study evaluated the potential of L. indica for centrally acting analgesic activity using formalin induced licking response and peripheral analgesic activity using acetic acid-induced writhing tests. Results showed anti-nociceptive activity by central and peripheral mechanisms. (11)
Antimicrobial / Essential Oil / Flowers: Study evaluated essential oil of flowers of L. indica. 95% consisted of esters of phthalic acid. Major constituents were di-isobutylphthalate (>75%), di-n-butylphthalate (>7%), n-butylisobutylphthalate (>6%), butylisohexylphthalate (>3.5%). Testing showed moderate antibacterial and antifungal activity. (13)
Antihyperglycemic / Hypolipidemic / Leaves: Study evaluated extracts of L. indica leaves for hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic activity in alloxan induced diabetic rats. Data indicated significant decrease in blood glucose, triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL, VLDL, with increased HDL cholesterol, compared to standard drug glibenclamide. The hydroalcoholic extract was more effective than alcoholic extract. (13)
Sedative / Anxiolytic / Leaves: Study evaluated a crude methanol extract of leaves showed significant dose-dependent sedative and anxiolytic effects in rodent behavioral models. (19) Study evaluated a crude ethanol extract of leaves for central nervous system effect using rodent behavioral models such as hole cross, open field, and thiopental sodium sleeping time tests for sedative properties and elevated plus maze (EPM) for anxiolytic potential. Analgesic potential was evaluated using formalin induced licking response for central activity and acetic acid induced writhing test for peripheral activity. Results showed sedative and analgesic effects. (25)
Hepatoprotective / Paracetamol Hepatotoxicity / Stem Bark: Study evaluated the hepatoprotective activity of ethanolic extract of Leea indica stem bark against paracetamol induced hepatotoxicity in rats. Results showed promising hepatoprotective effect with significant decrease in elevated serum marker enzymes, bilirubin, and triglycerides. (20)
Wound Healing Activity: Study evaluated the diabetic wound healing activity of Leea indica and Stachytarpeta indica in cultured RAW 264.7 mouse macrophage cells and NIH 3T3 mouse fibroblast cells. Both extracts showed wound healing activity with enhancement of mitochondrial activities of cells. Leea indica extract was more effective than Stachytarpeta indica, and more suitable on macrophage cells than fibroblast cells. (22)
Wound Healing Activity: Study investigated the antifungal and radical scavenging potential of leaf and bark extracts of Leea indica. On antifungal activity against Colletotrichum capsici, Helminthosporium sp., and Curvularia sp., the leaf extract displayed marked antifungal effect compared to the bark extract. The leaf extract scavenged DPPH radicals more efficiently than the bark extract. The marked antifungal and radical scavenging potential of the leaf extract may be attributed to the high phenolic content. (23)
Thrombolytic Activity: Study investigated six Bangladesh herbal extracts for clot lysis effect in an in vitro thrombolytic model using streptokinase as positive control. Of the six, Clausena suffruticosa, Leea indica and Leucas aspera showed effective thrombolytic properties. (24)
• Antioxidative / Cytotoxic / Antimicrobial / Leaves: Study investigated the antioxidative, antimicrobial, and cytotoxic effects of Leea indica ethanol leaf extract. Significant (p<0.05) IC50 were recorded for DPPH radical scavenging (139.83 ± 1.40 µg/ml), FeCl3 reduction (16.48 ± 0.64 µg/ml), DMSO superoxide scavenging (676.08 ± 5.80 µg/ml) and iron chelating (519.33 ± 16.96 µg/ml) methods. Antibacterial screening showed significant (p<0.05) zone of inhibition for both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. Antifungal assay showed growth inhibition of A. flavus, C. albicans, and F. equisetii. The extract showed significant LC 50 value compared to vincristine in cytotoxic assay. (see constituents above) (26)
• Antioxidant / Anticancer / Human Prostate Cancer Cell Lines / Leaves: Study evaluated the anticancer and antioxidant activities of Leea indica leaf extracts on DU-145 and PC-3 human prostate cancer cell lines. Methanol and ethanol leaf extracts showed selective in vitro cytotoxicity to (DU-145 and PC-3) prostate cancer cell lines with IC50s f 529.44 ± 42.07 µg/ml and 677.11 ± 37.01 µg/ml for Du-145 and 647.55 ± 33.52 µg/mL and 631.99 ± 50.24 µg.mL for PC-3, respectively. (see constituents above) (27)
• Antidiarrheal / Antifungal / Leaves: Study evaluated the methanol leaf extracts of L. indica and L. macrophylla for antidiarrheal and antimicrobial activity and compared with four known market preparations. Results showed both extracts reduced total number of stool in mice and increased latency period. Result was statistically significant but less than market preparation. Both extracts also showed significant antifungal activity compared to fluconazole, but failed to show antibacterial activity. (see constituents above) (28)
• Antiulcer: Study evaluated a methanolic extract of Leea indica on gastric ulcer in pylorus ligating-induced and aspirin-induced models. In both Ranitidine was used as standard. A 400 mg/kg dose of methanol extract significantly (p<0.01) reduced gastric ulcer index in both models. Antiulcer activity was confirmed by histopathological studies and was attributed to secondary metabolites such as flavonoids, tannins, and saponins. (29)
• Nanoparticles / Antimicrobial / Fruit: Study reports on a safe, economic, and environmentally friend method of synthesis of nanoparticles using a fruit extract of Leea indica. The synthesized nanoparticles exhibited synergistic antimicrobial activity in combination with antibiotic against Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, Staphylococcus aureus, and Bacillus subtilis. (30)
• Antidiabetic / Combination Herbal Formulation: Study evaluated the effect of single and combinational herbal formulation containing leaf extracts of Leea indica and fruit and leaf extract of Lagerstroemia speciosa for antihyperglycemic activity. Results showed L. indica and L. speciosa extracts and a herbal formulation containing 1:2 LI and LS possess antidiabetic activity. Activity is attributed to the presence of triterpenoid, especially corosolic acid in L. speciosa and triterpene acid, especially ursolic acid in L. indica. (31)

- Wild-crafted.

Updated June 2018 / July 2016

IMAGE SOURCE: Photo / File:Leea indica fruit and foliage.jpg / Ethel Aardvark / Creative Commons Attribution 3.0/ click on image to go to source page / Wikimedia Commons
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Leea indica (Burm.f.) Merr. / as Leea staphylea Roxb. / Wight, R., Illustrations of Indian botany, vol. 1: t. 58 (1840) [n.d.] / Plant Illustrations

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Evaluation of antioxidant and nitric oxide inhibitory activities of selected Malaysian medicinal plants / L Saha, N H Lajis et al /
Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 92, Issues 2-3, June 2004, Pages 263-267
/ doi:10.1016/j.jep.2004.03.007
Identification of chemical compounds from the leaves of Leea indica / Govindarajapuram Varadarajam Srinivasan, Choorikkat Ranjith, Kochukartu Krishnan Vijayan / Acta Pharm. 58 (2008) 207-214 / 10.2478/v1007-008-0002-7

Leea indica Ethyl Acetate Fraction Induces Growth-Inhibitory Effect in Various Cancer Cell Lines and Apoptosis in Ca Ski Human Cervical Epidermoid Carcinoma Cells / Wong Yau Hsiung and Habsah Abdul Kadir / Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2011/ doi:10.1155/2011/293060
The Synthesis and Bioactivity Study of Anthraquinones, And the Isolation of Bioactive Compounds from Leea Indica (Burm.F.) Merr. / Saha Koushik / Thesis
Chemical Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of the Essential Oil of Leea indica Flowers / G V Srinivasan, P Sharanappa, N K Leela et al / Natural Product Radiance, Vol 8, No 5, Pp 488-493.
Phenolic content, antioxidant effect and cytotoxic activity of Leea indica leaves / Nidyaletchmy Subba Reddy, Suerialoasan Navanesan, Saravana Kumar Sinniah, Norhanom Abdul Wahab and Kae Shin Sim* / BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:128 doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-128
Evaluation of Antitumor Activity of Leea indica (Burm.f.) Merr. extract against Ehrlich Ascites Carcinoma (EAC) Bearing Mice / Md. Obayed Raihan*, Syed Mohammed Tareq, Afrina Brishti, Md. Kursad Alam, Anamul Haque Md.Sekendar Ali / Am. J. Biomed. Sci. 2012, 4(2), 143-152; doi: 10.5099/aj120200143
Cytotoxic Activity of Ethanol Extract of Leea indica Leaf / Swati Paul*, Dibyajyoti Saha / Asian J. Res. Pharm. Sci. 2012; Vol. 2: Issue 4, Pg 137-139
Bandicoot berry/ Common names / Flowers of India
Burulla(Leea indica (Bandicoot berry) / Herbal Plant Sri Lanka
Analgesic activity of Leea indica (Burm. f.) Merr. / Talha Bin Emran*, Md. Atiar Rahman, S.M. Zahid Hosen, Md. Mominur Rahman, Abu Mohammad Toufiqul Islam, Md. Ashraf Uddin Chowdhury, Muhammad Erfan Uddin / Phytopharmacology 2012, 3(1) 150-157
Phytochemical Investigation of the Roots of Leea indica (Burm. F.) Merr. / AB Joshi*, PU Tari and M Bhobe / International Journal of Research in Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences, Vol. 4 (3) Jul– Sep 2013
Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of the essential oil of Leea indica (Burm. f.) Merr. flowers /
Srinivasan, G. V. and Sharanappa, P. and Leela, N. K. and Sadashiva, C. T. and Vijayan, K. K. / Natural Product Radiance, 2009, 8 (5). pp. 488-493.
Leea indica / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED
LEEA INDICA (Burm. f.) Merr. / Medicinal Plants of Bangladesh
Leea indica / Use Tropical Plants
Leea indica / Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants of Sri Lanka
Damayanthi Dalu*, Satyavathi Duggirala and Suresh Akarapu / Int. J. Bioassays, 2014, 3 (07), 3155-3159
Sedative and anxiolytic effects of the methanolic extract of Leea indica (Burm. f.) Merr. leaf.
/ Raihan, Md. Obayed; Habib, Md. Razibul; Brishti, Afrina; Rahman, Md. Mominur; Saleheen, Md. Moshfiqus; Manna, Mashudul / Drug Discoveries & Therapeutics . Aug2011, Vol. 5 Issue 4, p185-189
Hepatoprotective activity of ethanolic extract of Leea indica (Burm.f.) Merr. (Leeaceae) stem bark against paracetamol induced liver toxicity in rats / Garima Mishra, RL Khosa, Pradeep Singh, KK Jha / Nigerian Journal of Experimental and Clinical Biosciences, Vol 2, Issue 1 (2014) pp 59-63
Bandicoot berry / Common names / Flowers of India
Antifungal and radical scavenging activity of leaf and bark of Leea indica (Burm. f.) Merr. / Prashith Kekuda T. R. et al / J. Chem. Pharm. Res., 2015, 7(1):105-110
Effects of organic extracts of six Bangladeshi plants on in vitro thrombolysis and cytotoxicity / M Atiar Rahman, Rabeya Sultana, Talha Bin Emran, M Saiful Islam, M Ashiqur Rahman, Joti Sankhar Chakma, Harun-ur Rashid, and Chowdhury Mohammad Monirul Hasan / BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013; 13: 25. / doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-13-25
Sedative, anxiolytic and analgesic effects of the ethanolic extract of Leea indica (Burm. f.) Merr. leaf
/ Talha Bin Emran / 2nd International Conference and Exhibition on Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs / DOI: 10.4172/2167-7689.S1.008
Antioxidative, antimicrobial and cytotoxic effects of the phenolics of Leea indica leaf extract / Md. Atiar Rahman, Talha bin Imran, and Shahidul Islam / Saudi J Biool Sci. (2013); 20(3): pp 213-225 / doi:  10.1016/j.sjbs.2012.11.007
In vitro antioxidant and anticancer activity of Leea indica leaf extracts on human prostate cancer cell lines / Shridhar C Ghagane, Sridevi I Puraki, Vijay M Kumbar, Rajendra B Nerli, Sunil S Jalapure, Murigendra B Hiremath, Shivayogeeswar Neelangund, and Ravindraanath Aladakattig / Integr Med Res., Mar 2017; 6(1): pp 79-87 /  doi:  10.1016/j.imr.2017.01.004
Comparative Anti-dirrhoeal and Antimicrobial Activities of Methanol Extract of Leea indica (Burm. f.) Merr. and Leea macrophylla Roxb. Ex. Hornem (Fam. Vitaceae) and Four Bangladeshi Market Preparations / Syed Mohammed Tareq*, Mohammed Ibrahim, Sarrin Shahadat, Mohi Uddin Chowdhury M, Md Jakaria / Der Pharma Chemica, 2017; 9(1): pp 27-34
Anti Ulcer Activity of Leea Indica in Wistar Albino Rats / Damayanthi Dalu* / Arch Nano Op Acc J, 2018; 1(1)
Effect of single and combinational herbal formulation in alloxan induced hyperglycemia
/ Bhagyabhumi Patel, Jigar Patel and Samir Shah / Der Pharmacia Lettre, 2016, 8 (11):114-120
Ethnomedicinal plants used for digestive system disorders by the Karen of northern Thailand / Kornkanok Tangjitman, Chalobol Wongsawad*, Kaweesin Kamwong, Treetip Sukkho and Chusie Trisonthi / Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine (2015) 11:27 / DOI 10.1186/s13002-015-0011-9


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.

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