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Family Moraceae
Ficus retusa Linn.

Rong shu

Scientific names    Common names  
Ficus retusa Linn. Balete (Tag.)   
Ficus truncata (Miq.) Miq.       [Illegitimate] Marabutan (Bag.)
Ficus retusa Raf.                     Unresolved Chinese banyan (Engl.)
Urostigma littorale Miq.           Unresolved Curtain fig (Engl.)
Urostigma nitidum Miq.           Unresolved Indian laurel fig (Engl.)
Urostigma ovoideum Miq.       Unresolved  
Urostigma pisiferum Miq.        Unresolved  
Urostigma retusum Gasp.       Unresolved  
Worldwide there are over 800 species of the genus Ficus (Latin: fig) and of the more than 10 species found in the Philippines, Balete is a shared common name for six of them: (1) Ficus benjamina, salisi (2) Ficus elastica, Indian rubber tree (3) Ficus indica, baleteng-baging (4) Ficus payapa, payapa (5) Ficus retusa, marabutan, and (6) Ficus stipulosa, botgo.
Ficus retusa L. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
BURMESE: Nyaung ok.
CHINESE: Rong shu.
DANISH: Laurbærfigen.
GERMAN: Chinesische Feige, Indischer Lorbeer, Lorbeerfeige.
HINDI: Chilkan, Kamarup.
JAPANESE: Gajumaru.
KANNADA: Hillala, Hinala, Kirgoli, Kirigoli, Kirugoli, Nankipipri, Peelaalada mara, Peeladamara, Pilal.
MALAYALAM: Itti, Ittiyal, Itty alu, Itti arealou, Kallithi.
MARATHI: Nandruk.
SANSKRIT: Gajapadapa, Kantalaka, Ksavataru, Kuberaka, Kuni, Kunjarapadapa, Nandivriksha, Plaksah, Sthalivrksa, Tunna.
SPANISH: Laurel de Indias.
TAMIL: Icci, Ichi, Kallicci, Kallicchi, Kalluichi, Malaiyichi.
TELUGU: Billa juvvi, Hema vudaga, Konda pillara, Nandireka, Plaksa, Yerra juvvi.
THAI: Sai yoi, Sai yoi bai laem.

Marabutan is a large tree, often epiphytic, with slender aerial roots. Bark is brown and smooth. Leaves are dark green, with a thick waxy outer covering, elliptic, ovate or obovate, 5 to 10 centimeters long, the apex rounded or with short and blunt tapering points, narrowing into a petiole 6 to 12 millimeters long. Male flowers are numerous, scattered, stalkless or short-pedicelled. Female flowers are stalkless and much smaller. Fruit is stalkless, yellow or reddish, about 1 centimeter in diameter.

- In thickets and forests at low and medium altitudes throughout the Philippines, ascending to 1,500 meters.
- Also occurs in India to southern China, in Taiwan, and through Malaya to Australia and New Caledonia.

- Study yielded a wide range of phytochemicals: sterols, terpenoids, glycoside, flavonoids, polyphenols, proteins and carbohydrates.
- HPLC analysis of bark showed the predominant presence of oleanolic, betulinic acid, lupeol, ß-sitosterol, catechin, and gallic acid. (11)
- Study of aerial parts yielded two new polyphenolic compounds named retusaphenol [2-hydroxy-4-methoxy-1,3-phenylene-bis- (4- hydroxy-benzoate)] and (+)-retusa afzelechin [afzelechin - (48) - afzelechin - (48) - afzelechin] together with ten known compounds: luteolin, (+) - afzelechin, (+) - catechin , vitexin , -sitosterol acetate, -amyrin acetate, moretenone, friedelenol, -amyrin and -sitosterol. (see study below) (18)

- Leaves and bark are antirheumatic.
- Plant considered pungent, bitter, and aphrodisiac.

Parts utilized
Leaves, rootlets and bark.

- Leaves and bark used as poultice for rheumatism.
- In Concan, juice of leaves used for flatulent colic and the juice of bark used for liver diseases.
- Bark juice used for liver diseases.
- Bark has been used for diabetes, ulcers, hemorrhages, leprosy.
- The rootlets are dried and powdered, mixed with salt and applied to toothaches.
- Latex considered aphrodisiac.
- In India, used for diabetes; Leaves fumigated and steam inhaled for relief of fever. Leaf paste along with fruit, combined with cumin, is taken orally to cure swellings, lung blockage. Also, applied topically over fractured bones. (15)
- In China, adventitious rootlets used for toothaches, for which they are dried, powdered and applied to the decaying or aching tooth.
- In Ayurveda, used to treat liver disorders, hepatomegaly, wounds and ulcers.

- In Kerala, India used for treatment of leucoderma, ulcers, leprosy, itching, and biliousness. Bark used for liver diseases. Powdered leaves and bark used for rheumatic headaches. Leaves and roots used for wounds and bruises. (5)
- Coir: Stem fibers used in coir production.

Phenolic Content / Radical Scavenging Activity: Study of the leaves of eleven Ficus species growing in Egypt were subjected to free radical scavenging activity. Six methanol extracts, including Ficus nitida showed high activity. (2)
Anti-Diabetic: Study of water and methanolic extracts of Ficus retusa leaves showed significant lowering of blood glucose in a dose-dependent manner. No over sign of hepatotoxicity and renotoxicity were observed in chronic toxicity studies. Results conclude the extracts present a potential and safe alternative antidiabetic treatment. (3)
Antioxidant / Antibacterial: Results showed the methanol extracts of bark, fruits and leaves of F. microcarpa exhibited excellent antioxidant activities and also possessed activity against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. The activities may be attributed to its high level of phenolic compounds. (4)
Anti-Inflammatory: Study evaluated the anti-inflammatory effects of ethyl acetate and methanolic extract of leaves in albino wistar rats. Results showed significant anti-inflammatory effects in reducing rat paw edema induced by carrageenan. Diclofenac was the reference anti-inflammatory agent. (7)
Hepatoprotective / Leaves: Study of ethyl acetate and methanolic extracts of leaves showed significant dose dependent hepatoprotective (p<0.001) activity against carbon tetrachloride induced hepatotoxicity in rats. (8)
Anti-Secretory / Antiulcer: Study evaluated an ethanol extract of stem bark in albino rats. Phytochemical analysis yielded alkaloids, triterpenoids, and flavonoids. The ethanol extract showed dose-dependent inhibition in ethanol-induced gastric lesions. Results support it ethnomedical use in the treatment of gastric ulcer. (9)
Wound Healing: Study evaluated various extracts and solvents of air-dried parts of plant for wound healing activity on incision and excision models in rats. A 5% of petroleum ether and ethanolic extracts showed safety for topical administration. Results showed wound healing activity which was attributed to its antimicrobial, hemostatic, and antioxidant properties, together with the involvement of secondary metabolites. (12) The comparative wound healing effect of F. retusa extract and framycetin 1% w/w suggests an antimicrobial effect of the extract plays a major role in its wound healing activity. Furthermore, wound healing activity is probably partly due to tannins which act as free radical scavenger and secondary metabolites saponins. (18)
Analgesic / Anti-Inflammatory: Study evaluated a methanol extract of leaves for analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity in animal models. Results showed significantly reduced edema induced by carrageenan and histamine. In acetic acid-induced writhing model, the extract showed good analgesic effect with dose dependent decrease of licking time and licking frequency. (13)
Antidiarrheal / Leaves: Study evaluated the antidiarrheal activity of F. microcarpa against experimentally induced diarrhea in albino rats. Results showed a marked anti-diarrheal effect with anti-enteropooling activity. (14)
Biologic Activity / Aerial Parts: Study of aerial parts yielded two new polyphenolic compounds plus ten known compounds. Study for anticancer (Ic50 68.64 µg/ml against Hep G2 cells and >100 µg.ml against HCT-116 cells), antioxidant (SC50 0.85 µg/ml), antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities of different plant extracts showed significant results. (see constituents above) (17)
• Silver Nanoparticles / Antibacterial / Dye Decolourising / Leaves: Study reports on the synthesis of AgNPs using aqueous F. retusa leaf extract. The AgNPs were evaluated for antibacterial and high catalytic activity in enhancing decolourisation of eriochrome black T dye. (18)


© Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Updated February 2018 / February 2016

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Pharmacognostical studies on Ficus retusa leaf / Swapnadeep Parial*, DC Jain and SB Joshi / Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology, Vol 2, No 3 (2009)
Total phenolic contents and free radical scavenging activity of certain Egyptian Ficus species leaf samples / El-Sayed Saleh Abdel-Hameed / Food Chemistry • Volume 114, Issue 4, 15 June 2009, Pages 1271-1277 / doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2008.11.005
Antidiabetic activity of Ficus retusa leaves / Swapnadeep Parial, D C Jain and S B Joshi / Drug Invention Today, Vol 2, No 1 (2010)
Evaluation of antioxidant and antibacterial activities of Ficus microcarpa L. fil. extract / Changwei Ao, Anping Li et al / Food Control, Vol 19, Issue 10, October 2008, Pg 940-948 / doi:10.1016/j.foodcont.2007.09.007
STUDIES ON THE MEDICINAL PLANTS OF KERALA FORESTS / V.P.Krishnan Nambiar N.Sasidharan C.Renuka M.Balagopalan /
Sorting Ficus names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 - 2000 The University of Melbourne.
Evaluation of Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Ficus retusa (Moraceae)
/ N. Jay Raju, N Sreekanth / IJRAP 2011, 2(2) 515-517
/ N. Jaya Raju and N. Sreekanth / International Journal of Research in Ayurveda and Pharmacy, 2011
ANTI-SECRETORY ACTIVITY OF ETHANOLIC EXTRACT OF STEM BARK OF FICUS RETUSA L. IN ALBINO WISTAR RATS / E. Kalyan Rao* and K. Praveen Kumar / International Journal of Biological & Pharmaceutical Research. 2012; 3(1): 109-112.
Pharmacognostical evaluation of medicinally important Ficus retusa (Leaves and bark) / Alok Semwal*, Ratendra Kumar, Udai Vir Singh Teotia, Ramandeep Singh / Journal of Acute Disease (2013)300-303
Pharmacognostic and phytochemical studies on Ficus Microcarpa L. fil / Mohan G. Kalaskar and Sanjay J. Surana / Anc Sci Life. 2012 Oct-Dec; 32(2): 107–111. / doi: 10.4103/0257-7941.118550
Research Paper Evaluation of Wound Healing on Ficus Retusa / Rajesh Asija*, Ravi Kumar Pareek / International Journal of Pharmaceutical Erudition, Nov 2014, 4(3), pp 1-8
BAIRAGI SHRIPAD M.*, AHER ABHIJEET A., PATHAN INAYAT B., NITIN NEMA / Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research Vol 5, Suppl 4, 2012
Evaluation of Anti-Diarrhoeal Activity of the Leaves Extract of Ficus Microcarpa L. (Moraceae) / Shripad Motilal BAIRAGI, Abhijeet Ashok AHER, Nitin NEMA, Inayat Bashir PATHAN / Marmara Pharmaceutical Journal 18: 135-138, 2014 / DOI: 10.12991/mpj.2014187240
Ethnobotanical Study of Medicinal Plants Used by Local People in Ariyalur District, Tamilnadu, India
Sathishpandiyan S, Prathap S, Vivek P*, Chandran M, Bharathiraja B, Yuvaraj D, Smila K H / Int.J. ChemTech Res.2014,6(9),pp 4276-4284.
Ficus retusa / Synonyms / The Plant List
Two new polyphenolic compounds from Ficus retusa L."variegata" and the biological activity of the different plant extracts / Taha M. Sarg, Fawkeya A. Abbas*, Zeinab I. El-Sayed and Ahmed M. Mustafa / Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy Vol. 3(7), pp. 89-100, August 2011
Evaluation of Wound Healing on Ficus Retusa / Rajesh Asija*, Ravi Kumar Pareek / International Journal of Pharmaceutical Erudition, Nov 2014, 4(3), 1-8

Synthesis of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) using Ficus retusa leaf extract for potential application as antibacterial and dye decolourising agents / Anjum Singhal, Nikita Singhal, Amrik Bhattacharya & Anshu Gupta / Inorganic and Nano-Metal Chemistry, Vol 47, Issue 11 (2017) / https://doi.org/10.1080/24701556.2017.1357604

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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