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Family Aquifoliaceae
Ilex cymosa Blume

Scientific names Common names
Ilex cumingiana Rolfe            Malagidiya (Tag.)
Ilex cymosa Blume            Pait (Tagalog)
Ilex fabrilis Pierre            Marsh holly (Engl.)
Ilex philippinensis Rolfe            Mensira (Trade name)
Ilex singaporiana Wall.             
Ilex thorelii Pierre             
Leucodermis javanica Planch. ex Hook.f.             
Prinos cymosa Hassk.             
Pseudehretia paniculata Turcz.             
Salacca zalacca (Gaertn.) Voss is an accepted name. KEW: Plants of the World Online

Other vernacular names
BORNEO: Bangkulat, Bangkulatan, Belimbing hutan, Bengkulat, Bengkulatan, Bingkolat, Kayu bawang, Kerdam ayer, Mangkulat, Mer pinggau, Mogkulat, Perdoh, Sidapong, Tampulan.
INDONESIA: Mensira gunung, Ki bonteng, Ki sekel.
MALAYSIA: Timah-timah, Bengkulat, Bubpuk.
SUNDANESE: Ki sekel.
THAI: Sai khe tai, Se-ko.

Gen info
- Ilex, or holly, is a genus of over 570 species of flowering plants in the family Aquifoliaceae, and is the only living genus in the family.
Etymology: The genus name Ilex derives from Latin, meaning "holm-oak or evergreen oak (Quercus ilex). (9) The specific epithet cymosa derives from Greek meaning "cyme", referring to the cymose inflorescences. (4)
- Despite the Linnaean classification of Ilex as holly, in late 19th century Britain, Ilex was being applied to oak as well as holly, possibly due to superficial similarity of the leaves. The type species Ilex aquifolium refers to the common European holly used in Christmas decorations and cards. (9)

• Sub-canopy tree up to 29 m tall and 63 cm dbh. Leaves alternate, simple, penni-veined. Flowers ca. 3 mm in diameter, white-yellow, slightly fragrant, placed in lax, compound cymes. Fruits ca. 3 mm in diameter, pink-blue-purple, fleshy berry. (4)

• An evergeen tree, up to 30 m tall. Trunk: Bark becomes rougher and fissured as it grows older. Foliage: Leaves are alternate, stalked; leaf blades are oblong or elliptic, dark green to green above, pale green with a waxy bloom below, and 5-14 by 2.3-6.4 cm. Flowers: Its small flowers are olive green, greenish-white, or white, and up to 3 mm wide. Fruits: Its ovoid, fleshy fruits are berries that ripen from red to purple, then black, and are 3-4 by 3-5 mm, with eight to ten seeds inside. (5)

• Small, smooth, evergreen tree up to
16(-25) m tall, rarely with buttresses, bark white or light gray, smooth or pimply because of lenticels, inner bark thick, ochre-brown, and coarsely gritty; wood pink or cream. Young twigs conspicuously white and lenticellate. Leaves entire, alternate, 2.5-6.3 by 5-10(-14) cm, elliptic with a blunt tip, dark green and glossy above, pale beneath, thinly leathery, with 6-8 pairs of side veins; leaf stalk 1-1.5 cm long. Young leaves white or magenta. Flowers 2-3 mm across, greenish-white, in small, rather loose clusters with numerous flowers, located in the axils. Male flowers with 4-5 sepals and petals, stamens 4. Female flowers with 5-6 sepals, 6-8 petals. Fruit an egg-shaped berry, 4(-5) mm long and 3-4 mm wide, pinkish-purple, then black, like small currants, with about 8-10 seeds; fruit stalk 3-6 mm. Fruit is ridged when dry. (7)

- Native to the Philippines.
- Common in lowland primary forests, ascending to 800 m. Also in peat swamps. (2)
- Also native to Bismarck Archipelago, Borneo, Cambodia, Jawa, Malaya, Maluku, Myanmar, New Guinea, Solomon Is., Sulawesi, Sumatera, Vietnam. (1)

- No studies found.

Parts used
Roots, leaves.


- No information found on edibility of Ilex cymosa fruits.
- Ilex fruits are generally toxic to humans, and can cause vomiting or diarrhea. However, they are a food source for certain birds and other animals, which help disperse the seeds.
- Roots used for fever and for ripening boils. Leaves used for sprains.
- In Indonesia, leaf powder applied to skin diseases.
- In Thailand, roots used as antipyretic: Mix with other herbs, rub with benzoin, add a little water, then drink. (8)
- Wood: Used for firewood and for house construction.

No studies found.


December 2023

                                                 PHOTOS / ILLUSTRATIONS
IMAGE SOURCE: Aquifoliaceae : Ilex cymosa / Flowering twigs / Copyright © 2014 by P B Pelser & J F Barcelona (contact: pieter.pelser@canterbury.ac.nz) [ref. DOL92422] / Non-Commercial Use / Click on image or link to go to source page / Phytoimages.siu.edu
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Aquifoliaceae : Ilex cymosa / Fruiting twigs / © earth.com / Nature•Science•Life / Non-commercial use / click on  image or link to go to source page / earth.com

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Ilex cymosa / KEW: Plants of the World Online
Ilex cymosa / Last edited by Pieter B. Pelser, 2021 / Co's Digital Flora of the Philippines
Mensira / ITTO: Lesser Used Species
Ilex cymosa / AsianPlantNet
Ilex cymosa / National Parks: FLORA& FAUNA WEB
Ethnobotanical study of wild medicinal plants in Serbajadi protected forest of East Aceh District, Indonesia
/ Zidni Ilman Navia, Adnan, Tisna Harmawan, Adi Bejo Suwardi / BIODIVERSITAS, 2022; 23(10): pp 4959-4970 / pISSN: 1412-033X / eISSN: 2085-4722 / DOI: 10.13057/biodiv/d231001
Ilex cymosa / Mangrove Guidebook for Southeast Asia
Herbs from Peat Swamp Forests in Narathivas, Thailand / Tasanee Kitirattrakarn, Choojit Anantachoke

Holly / Wikipedia

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
                                          New plant names needed
The compilation now numbers over 1,300 medicinal plants. While I believe there are hundreds more that can be added to the collection, they are becoming more difficult to find. If you have a plant to suggest for inclusion, native or introduced, please email the info: scientific name (most helpful), local plant name (if known), any known folkloric medicinal use, and, if possible, a photo. Your help will be greatly appreciated.

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