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Family Moraceae
Red balete

Ficus virens Aiton
Huang ge shu

Scientific names Common names
Ficus virens Aiton Balete (Tag.)
Accepted infraspecifics (3) Baleteng-pula (Tag.)
Ficus virens var. dasycarpa Corner Grey fig (Engl.)
Ficus virens var. dispersa Chantaras Lipstick ficus (Engl.)
Ficus virens var. virens Red balete (Tag, Engl.)
Ficus aegeirophylla (Miq.) Miq. Spotted fig (Engl.)
Ficus ampla Kunth & C.D.Bouché Spotted white fig (Engl.)
Ficus apiculata (Miq.) Miq. White fig (Engl.)
Ficus carolinensis Warb.  
Ficus caulobotrya var. fraseri (Miq.) Miq.  
Ficus cunningham (Miq.) Miq.  
Ficus fraseri (Miq.) F.Muell.  
Ficus glabella Blume  
Ficus glabella f. grandifolia Miq.  
Ficus glabella var. nesophilia (Miq.) K.Schum.  
Ficus infectoria Miq.  
Ficus infectoria var. aegeirophylla (Miq.) Miq.  
Ficus infectoria var. cunninghamii (Miq.) Domin  
Ficus infectoria var. forbesii King  
Ficus infectoria var. fraseri (Miq.) Domin  
Ficus infectoria var. lambertiana (Miq.) King  
Ficus infectoria var. psychotriifolium (Miq.) Domin  
Ficus infectoria var. typiica Domin  
Ficus infectoria var. wightiana (Miq.) King  
Ficus infrafoliacea Buch.-Ham. ex Sm.  
Ficus lacor var. cunninghamii (Miq.) M.F.Barrett  
Ficus lacor var. lambertiana (Miq.) M.F.Barrett  
Ficus lambertiana (Miq.) Miq.  
Ficus monticola Miq.  
Ficus nesophilia (Miq.) F.Muell.  
Ficus pilhasi Sm.  
Ficus prolixa var. carolinensis (Warb.) Fosberg  
Ficus psychotrifolia (Miq.) Miq.  
Ficus racemosa Willd.  
Ficus saxophila var. sublanceolata Miq.  
Ficus scandens Buch.-Ham.  
Ficus syringofolia C.Fraser ex C.Moore  
Ficus terminalioides Griff.  
Ficus terminalis Roth.  
Ficus timorensis (Miq.) Miq.  
Ficus virens Aiton  
Ficus virens var. glabella (Blume) Corner  
Ficus virens var. lambertiana (Miq.) Raizada  
Ficus virens var. matthewii Chantaras.  
Ficus virens var. sublanceolata (Miq.) Corner  
Ficus virens var. wightiana (Miq.) Chithra  
Ficus wrightiana (Miq.) Benth.  
Urostigma aegeirophyllum Miq.  
Urostigma apiculatum Miq.  
Urostigma canaliculatum Miq.  
Urostigma cunninghamii Miq.  
Urostigma fraseri Miq.  
Urostigma glabellum (Blume) Miq.  
Urostigma infectorium Miq.  
Urostigma lambertianum Miq.  
Urostigma moritzianum Miq.  
Urostigma nesophilum Miq.  
Urostigma perseifolium Miq.  
Urostigma psychotriifolium Miq.  
Urostigma wrightianum Miq.  
Ficus virens Aiton is an accepted species. KEW: Plants of the World Online
Note: For Ficus virens, there is a confusing color use in the common names: Red balete, Grey fig, and White fig. White refers to the color of the fig. (White fig is shared by Ficus virens and F. caulocarpa.) Red balete refers to the red stage of color of the leaves.
Balete is a shared generic name for many Ficus species in the Philippines.

Other vernacular names
ASSAMESE: Tenga-bor.
CHINESE: Huang ge shu.
GERMAN: Java-Weide, Würgefeige.
HINDI: Gasti, Kahimal, Kaim, Khabar, Keol, Pakar, Pilkhan, Ramanjir.
KANNADA: Basari, Basarigoli, Basarimara, Juvvi, Kabbasaru, Kari bassari, Matai ichchi, Plaksha, Ulabasari.
MALAY: Ampulu, Ara nasi, Bulu bras, Wunut baygu.
MALAYALAM: Bakri, Chakkila, Cherala, Cherla, Chuvannal, Itti, Jati.
MARATHI: Bassari, Dhedumbara, Ghandhaumbara, Lendwa, Pakari, Pepar.
MYANMAR: Hpak hi, Hyaung pan, Nyaung gyin, Nyaung shin.
NEPALESE: Safedkabra.
PUNJABI: Bathar, Janglipipli, Pakhar, Palakh, Palkhi, Pilkhan, Pilkin.
SANSKRIT: Ashvatthi, Charudarshani, Driphapraroha, Gardabhanda, Jati, Kandaralu, Karpari, Parkati, Pimpari, Plaksha, Plaksa, Plavaka, Shringi, Suparshva, Varohashakhi, Vati.
SINHALESE: Kalaha, Kiripella.
TAMIL: Jovi, Kallal, Kurugatti, Kurugu, Matai ichchi, Suvi.
TELUGU: Badijuvi, Banda Juvvi, Jati, Jatti, Juvvi.
URDU: Pakharia.

Gen info
- Ficus is a genus of about 850 species of woody trees, shrubs, vines, epiphytes, and hemiepiphytes in the family Moraceae, collectively known as fig trees or figs.
- Ficus virens is a plant of the genus Ficus. One of the famous specimens of the tree is the Curtain Fig Tree of Atherton Tableland, near Cairns, a popular tourist attraction. Another is the Tree of Knowledge in Darwin. (26)

Ficus virens is a tree growing up to 35 m tall, deciduous, epiphytic in young stages, a spreading crown, with a few aerial roots, which thicken after they make contact with the ground. Bark is greenish-green, smooth. Bole is up to 70 cm diameter. Leaves are coriaceous, glabrous, oblong-ovate, entire or undulate, 8-19 cm long and 3-6 cm wide, acuminate, base acute, truncate or subcordate, lateral nerves 8-12 pairs; petiole articulate, glandular at the apex below. Receptacles unisexual, paired, axillary, shortly peduncled, globose, whitish with red dots. Figs are sessile or up to 0.1 cm to 0.6 cm. Species is very variable in various characteristics, as in position of the figs from axillary to ramiflorous, the shape of the lamina, the length of the petiole, and the formation of clear terminal resting buds. Flowers are three types: male, a long-styled female, and a short-styled female flower, called the gall flower; all three contained within the structure of the "fruit." Fruits are globose, 12-15 mm in diameter. (13) (3)• A latex-containing, strangling fig up to 35 m tall, with a vast and spreading crown, and many aerial roots developing on the trunk or from the base of the lower limbs. Foliage: Spirally arranged, stalked leaves have thinly leathery leaf blades that are usually oval to slightly drop-shaped, 4–20 by 1.9–9 cm, and with distinct side veins below. Flowers: Plant is monoecious. Its male, female and gall flowers are found within the same syconium. The flowers are tiny and develop within the syconium. Fruit: Short-stalked syconia (figs) are round, 7–12 mm wide, purple with dark spots when ripe, and develop singly or in pairs on the bare portions of leafy twigs, or in clusters of up to  4 figs on leafless older branchlets. (25)

- Native to the Philippines.
- Also native to Andaman Is., Assam, Bangladesh, Borneo, Cambodia, Caroline Is., China,
East Himalaya, Hainan, India, Jawa, Laos, Lesser Sunda Is., Malaya, Maluku, Myanmar, New Guinea, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Sri Lanka, Sulawesi, Sumatra, Thailand, Tibet, Vietnam, Western Australia. (1)

- Study of leaves isolated six flavonoids: quercetin (1), quercetin-3-O-α quercetin-3-O-ß-D-arabinopyranoside (2), quercetin-3O-α-D-galactopyranoside (3), kaempferol-3-O-α-Darabinopyranoside (4), kaempferol-3-O-ß-D-galactopyranoside (5), and vogelin J (6). (see study below) (4)
- Qualitative phytochemical screening of stem bark in water, acetone, petroleum ether and ethyl alcohol yielded the presence of saponin, alkaloids, tannin, sterols, and carbohydrate.

- Considered a "strangle tree" because the seeds can germinate on older trees and grow to strangle and eventually kill the host tree. (20)
- Studies have suggest antiviral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, tyrosinase inhibitory, hypolipidemic, antibacterial, antibiotic synergistic, phytoremediative, wound healing properties.

Parts used
Leaves,stems, bark.


- Fruits are edible.
- Young shoots, young leaves and leaf buds are eaten, raw or cooked. Sometimes used in preparing curries. (12) In Thai cuisine, leaves known as phak lueat. (20)
- Young leaves traditionally consumed by local people in Xishuangbanna. (18)
- In Pakistan, leaves used for the treatment of diabetes. (9)
- In India, bark decoction used for gargling and washing ulcers. Also used in the treatment of leucorrhea.
(14) In Uttar Pradesh, used for treatment of diabetes. (16)
- Stem bark extracts used as astringent and antiseptic; used for inflammatory swellings, boils, and wound healing. (13)
- Leaves for internal hemorrhage, erysipelas, and wound healing. Stem bark used in dysentery and menorrhagia
- Ritual: In India, the tree is considered sacred as per Vayu Purana.
- Agroforestry: Planted as a shade tree with its wide canopy,
- Latex: Used for caulking boats and waterproofing. (19)
- Wood: Wood is gray and moderately hard. Used for fuel or making charcoal. Used for light construction, tool making. (19)
- Fodder: Used as animal feed.

Antiviral / Antioxidant / Flavonoids / Leaves:
Study of leaves isolated six flavonoids: quercetin (1), quercetin-3-O-α quercetin-3-O-ß-D-arabinopyranoside (2), quercetin-3O-α-D-galactopyranoside (3), kaempferol-3-O-α-Darabinopyranoside (4), kaempferol-3-O-ß-D-galactopyranoside (5), and vogelin J (6). The viral inhibitory effects of the isolated flavonoids on Coxsackie B B4 (CVB4) and hepatitis A virus (HAV) were investigated. Flavonoids 1,3, and 6 exhibited mild anti-CVB4 inhibitory effects, while 2 and 3 exhibited mild inhibitory activities against HAV. (4)
Anti-Inflammatory / Bark: Study evaluated the anti-inflammatory activity of ethanolic extract of Ficus virens bark using Carrageenan-induced inflammation in Swiss albino mice. Sub-plantar injection of carrageenan caused a time-dependent paw edema. Treatment showed anti-inflammatory effect with dose-dependent inhibition of paw swelling. (5) Study of a methanolic extract of bark showed invitro anti-inflammatory effect using RBC membrane stabilization effect in heat induced hemolysis method and egg albumin protein inhibition. Effect might be attributable to alkaloids, phenolics, flavonoids and tannins present in the extract. (13)
Tyrosinase Inhibitors / Condensed Tannins / : Study of leaves, fruit, and stem bark isolated condensed tannins. Study for antityrosinase activities showed the condensed tannins were potent tyrosinase inhibitors. Concentrations for the leaves, fruits, and stem bark condensed tannins leading to 50% enzyme activity were 131.67, 99.89, 106.22 µg/ml on monophenolase activity, and 128.42, 43.07, and 74.27 µg/ml on diphenolase activity. The condensed tannins showed reversible and mixed type inhibitors. The condensed tannins could reduce the enzyme product of o-quinones into colourless compounds. Study findings can contribute to the development and design of antityrosinase agents. (6)
Hypolipidemic / Antioxidant / HMG-CoA Reductase Inhibitor / Bark: Study of methanolic extract of F. virens bark sought to isolated bioactive compounds and evaluated them for antioxidant, HMG-CoA reductase inhibitory and hypolipidemic activity. Study reported on the discovery of n-octadecanyl--O-α-D-glucopyranosyl(6'-->1")-O-α-D-glucopyranoside (F18) as a novel HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor. The inhibitor exhibited high free radical scavenging activity and marked HMG-CoA reductase inhibitory activity with IC50 84 ±2.8 ng/ml. The extract significantly ameliorated the altered levels of plasma lipids and lipoproteins including hepatic HMG-CoA reductase activity in Triton-induced hyperlipidemic rats. The effect was comparable to standard drug atorvastatin. (7)
Effect on Oxidative Stress, Cigarette Smoke and Hyperlipidemia: Study evaluated the role of F. virens and its bioactive compound on cigarette smoke, induced oxidative stress and hyperlipidemia. Extract treatment at higher dose and F19 (n-octadecanyl--O-α-D-glucopyranosyl(6'-->1")-O-α-D-glucopyranoside) compound to CS-exposed rats effectively blocked the increase in plasma lipid and lipoprotein levels (p<0.001) and significantly inhibited the lipid peroxidation process, thus preventing membrane damage, LDL oxidation, and, subsequently, atherosclerosis. (8)
Proanthocyanidins Induced Apoptosis in Breast Cancer / Amelioration of 5-FU Induced Intestinal Mucositis / Stem Bark: Study evaluated the proanthocyanidins cytotoxic effects against MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 breast cancer cells and anti-mucositis activities. Cytotoxic effects were highest with the stem barks. SPAs induced apoptosis in both cell lines, which were accompanied with an increase in loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, production of ROS, Bax to Bcl-2 protein expression ratio, and activated caspase-3. There was also amelioration of symptoms of intestinal; mucositis in rats. Results suggest potential as therapeutic agent for breast cancer and chemotherapy-induced mucositis. (10)
No Phytotoxic Effect / Antioxidant: Study evaluated the protective role and phytotoxic effect of methanolic leaf extract in Wistar albino rats. Phytochemical analysis yielded carotenoids, flavonoids, phenols, with absence of alkaloids. Pretreatment with extract prevented lipid peroxidation and showed significant increase in antioxidant activity. Phytotoxic study showed no change in biochemical and hematological indices nor change in gross or histopathological status at dose of 1000 mg/kg. (11)
Phytoremediation / Pb and Cd / Antioxidant: Study evaluated the growth physiological changes and absorption and accumulation characteristics of Pb and Cd of Ficus virens and L. lucidum under different Pb and Cd concentration by pot experiment. Results showed plant height and ground diameter were inhibited, biomass and total chlorophyll decreased and MDA content increased. Results showed F. virens is more tolerant to Pb and Cd combined stress and has potential for phytoremediation of Pb and Cd combined contaminated soil. (15)
Silver Nanoparticles / Antibacterial / Antibiotic Synergism / Leaves: Study reports on the eco-friendly synthesis of silver nanoparticles using leaf extracts of Ficus virens. The synthesized AgNPs showed significant antibacterial activity against Gram positive and Gram negative human bacterial pathogens. The AgNPs also synergistically enhanced (2.-2-57.09%) the antibacterial activity of the antibiotic streptomycin. (17)
Antioxidant / Leaves: Young leaves of seven ficus species including F. virens var sublanceolata are traditionally consumed by people in Xishuangbanna. A study of 90% ethanolic extracts screened young leaves for potential antioxidant capacity using ABTS, DPPH, ferric reducing power and lipid peroxidation inhibition properties. Extracts from F. virens and F. auriculata showed higher antioxidant activity in all systems than other species. These two are promising sources of natural dietary antioxidants. The antioxidant activity was attributed to total phenolic and flavonoid contents. (18)
Extenuating Role on Oxidative Damage from Cigarette Smoke: The production of free radicals associated with cigarette smoke (CS) generates oxidative stress, and may cause alternations in activities of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants that link with atherosclerosis. Study evaluated the putative preventive effects of F. virens extract and bioactive compound (F18), n-Octadecanyl-O-α-D-glucopyranosyl(6'-->1")-O-α-D glucopyranoside on the enzymatic and non-enzymatic defense system and in oxidative stress CS-exposed rats. Results showed significantly decreased enzymatic activities of liver and lung CAT, SOD, Gred and GST in CS exposed rats, while Gpx activity was increased. Morphological alterations in the liver and lung were significantly reversed after treatment with extract and F18 compound. Study suggests FVBM extract and F18 exhibited its protective nature against CS-exposed rats. (23)
Wound Healing / Bark: Study evaluated the wound healing effect of 10% ointment formulation from methanol extract of F. virens bark in an excision wound model on Wistar albino rats. Providone iodine 5% was used as standard drug. Results showed significantly wound healing effect evidenced by high rate of wound contraction and decrease in period of epithelialisation in treated animals compared to the control group. (24)


Updated May 2024
June 2021

                                                 PHOTOS / ILLUSTRATIONS
IMAGE SOURCE: Ficus virens- fruit and leaves: Hawaiian Canoe Club Kahului-Maui / Forest & Kim Starr / CC BY-SA / click on image or link to go to source page / Wikimedia Commons
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Ficus virens var. sublanceolata leaves / Poyt448 - Peter Woodard / CC0 / Image modified / Click on image or link to go to source page / Wikipedia
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Ficus virens (White fig) / Young red leaves / Forest & Kim Starr / Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 / Click on image or link to go to source page / Wikimedia Commons
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Ficus virens fruits / © scoddocs / Non-commercial use / Click on image or link to go to source page / SKIPA: Society for Kimberly Indigenous Plants & Animals
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Ficus virens - Curtain Fig tree in Atherton Tablelands / Paste / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Click on image or link to go to source page / Wikipedia

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Ficus virens Aiton / Synonyms / KEW: Plants of the World Online

Sprting Ficus names
/ /Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1995 - 2020 / A Work in Progress. School of Agriculture and Food Systems. Faculty of Land & Food Resources. The Univers ity of Melbourne. Australia.
Ficus virens / Flora Malesiana
Antiviral and antioxidant activities of flavonoids of Ficus virens: Ex[erimental and theoretical investigations / Mohamed A mA Orabi and Esam A Orabi / Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, 2016; 5(3): pp 120-128 /
Evaluation of Carrageenan induced anti-inflammatory activity of ethanolic extract of bark of Ficus virens Linn. in swiss albino mice / Abdul Hafeez, Dr Upendra Jain, Pinky Sajwan, Sirish Srivastava, Amit Thakur / The Journal of Phytopharmacology, 2013; 2(3): pp 39-43 / ISSN: 2230-480X
Condensed Tannins from Ficus virens as Tyrosinase Inhibitors: Structure, Inhibitory Activity annd Molecular Mechanism / Xiao-Xin Chen, Yan Shi, Wei=Ming chai, Hui-Ling Feng et al / PLOS ONE /
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0091809
Bioactivity guided fractionation and hypolipidemic property of a novel HMG-CopA reductase inhibitor from Ficus virens Ait / Danish Iqbal, M Salman Khan, Mohd Ali et al / Lipids in Health and Disease, 2015; 14(15) / DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12944-015-0013-6

Investigating The Role of Novel Bioactive Compound from Ficus virens Ait on Cigarette Smoke Induced Oxidative Stress and Hyperlipidemia in Rats / Danish Iqbal, Amir Khan, Irfan Ansari, M Salman Khan / Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, 2017 Summer; 16(3): pp 1089-1103 / PMID: 29535791 / P<CID" PMC5610763
Ethno-medicinalSpecies of genus Ficus L. Used to Treat Diabetes in Pakistan / Kiran Yasmin Khan, Ibtesaam Zaima Khan et al / Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science, 2011; 1(6): pp 209-211
Ficus virens proanthocyanidins induced apoptosis in breast cancer cells concomitantly ameliorated 5-fluorouracil induced intestinal mucositis in rats / Xiao-Xin Chen, Kar Ho Lam, Qing-Xi Chen, Zhang-Jin Zhang et al / Food and Chemistry Toxicology, Dec 2017; Vol 110: pp 49-61 /
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2017.10.017
Evaluating the protective role and phytotoxic effect of Ficus virens in wistar albino rats / Jayashree Pattar, Shridhar N B, Suhasini K, and Satyanarayana M L / Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, 2018; SP3: pp 301-304 / pISSN: 2349-8234 / eISSN: 2278-4136
The uses of fig (Ficus) by five ethnic minority communities in Southern Shan State, Myanmar / Aye Mya Mon, Yongping Yang et al / Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 2020; 16: Art No 55 /
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13002-020-00406-z
Screening of in vitro inflammatory activity of Ficus virens bark / M Ramadevi, N Sivasubramanian, A Tamil Selvan, B Sree Giri Prasad, S Anbazhagan / Journal of Global Trends in Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2014; 5(4): pp 2034-2036 / ISSN: 2230-7346
Medicinal as Well as Sacred Plants of Bilaspur Town, District Rampur (Uttar Pradesh) / Nisha Verma / Bulletin of Pure and Applied Sciences, Jul-Dec 2018; 37B(2): pp 67-78 / pISSN: 0970-4612 / eISSN: 2320-3106 / DOI: https://doi.org/10.5958/2320-3106.2018.00010.1
Growth Physiology and Absorption Characteristics of Ficus virens and Ligustrum lucidum Under Combined Stress of Pb and Cd / Zhou Qiangying, Huang Zemei, Chen Yao / CNKI
Treatment of diabetes through herbal drugs in rural India / Alam M M, Siddiqui M B, Husain W / Fitoterapia, 1990; 61(3): pp 240-242
Enhanced antibacterial activity of streptomycin against some human pathogens using green synthesized silver nanoparticles / Raj Kumar Salar, Pooja Sharma, Naresh Kumar / Resource-Efficient Technologies, Dec 2015; 1(2): pp 106-115 / DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.reffit.2015.11.004
Preliminary assessment of antioxidant activity of young edible leaves of seven Ficus species in the ethnic diet in Xishuangbanna, Sourthwest China / Yin-Xian Shi, You-Kai Xu, Wen-Hui Wang et al / Food Chemistry, Oct 2011; 128(4): pp 889-784 / DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2011.03.113
Ficus virens / Tropical Plants Database: Ken Fern / Useful Tropical Plants
Ficus virens / Wikipdia.
Ficus virens / India Biodiversity Portal
Pharmacognostic studies on Plaksa (Ficus virens Ait.) / Manoj Tripathi, R L S Sikarwar / Indian Journal of Natural Products and Resources, March 2015; 6(1): pp 27-32 / IPC code: Int. cl. (2014.01)-A61K 36/00
Extenuating the role of Ficus virens Ait and its novel bioactive compound on antioxidant defense system and oxidative damage in cigarette smoke exposed rats / Danish Iqbal, M Salman Khan, Amir Khan, Saheem Ahmad / Biomedical Research and Therapy, 2016; 3(33)  / DOI: 10.7603/s40730-016-0033--5
Wound Healing Activity of Bark Extracts of Ficus virens on Wistar Albino Rats / M Ramadevi, N Sivasubramanian, A Tamil Selvan, B Sree Giri Prasad, S Anbazhagan / Int J Pharm Sci Rev Res., 2014; 27(2) Article 4: pp 16-18 / ISSN: 0976-044X
Ficus virens Aiton / National Parks: FLORA & FAUNA WEB
Ficus virens / 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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