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Family Euphorbiaceae
Codiaeum variegatum (L.) Rumph. ex A.Juss.

Bian ye mu

Scientific names  Common names
Codiaeum chrysosticton Rumph. ex Spreng Sagilala (Tag.)
Codiaeum variegatum (L.) Rumph ex A.Juss. Bombay laurel (Engl.)
Codiaeum variegatum var. genuinum Müll.Arg. A. Buenavista plant (Engl.)
Croton variegatus L. Croton (Engl.)
Crozophyla variegata (L.) Raf. Fire croton (Engl.)
Oxydectes variegata (L.( Kuntze Garden croton (Engl.)
Phyllaurea variegata (L.) W.Wight Joseph's coat (Engl.)
Accepted infraspecifics San Francisco (Engl.)
Codiaeum variegatum var. cavernicola Kiew & Welzen Tropical croton (Engl.)
Codiaeum variegatum var. variegatum Variegated croton (Engl.)
Sagilala is a common name shared by Baston de San Jose (Cordyliine fruticosa) and San Francisco (Codiaeum variegatum).
Codiaeum variegatum (L.) Rumph. ex A.Juss. is an accepted name. KEW: Plants of the World Online

Other vernacular names
BANGLADESH: Boangkhela paingda, Pata bahar.
CHINESE: Bian ye mu.
FIJI: Sacasaca.
GERMAN: Indischer lorbeer, Indischer wunderstrauch.
INDONESIA: Tarimas, Silastom, Nasalou, Pudieng, Katomas, Daun garida, Uhung, Dahengora, Abam.
JAPAN: Henyo-boku.
MALAYSIA: Pokok puding, Puding mas.
NEW GUINEA: Kai, Tubuloko, Marmara, Baba'a,, Simpika, Babaka.
SAMOA: Ave'ave.
SPANISH: San Francisco, Buenavista.
VIETNAM: Ku kieng.

Gen info
- Codiaeum variegatum is a species of plant in the genus Codiaeum, a member of the family Euphorbiaceae. It was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753.
- There are several hundred cultivars, selected and bred for their foliage. (37)
- 'Garden croton' is a common name, but it should not be confused with Croton, a cosmopolitan genus also in the Euphorbiaceae family, which contains more than 70 species of herbs, shrubs, and trees. (37)

Sagilala is a low branching shrub with attractive and variedly shaped and colored foliage. Leaves are thick and leathery, ovate, oblong to linear, the margins entire, lobed or spirally twisted. Young leaves are usually green, yellow or red, later changing to single color or variegation of gold cream, white, red, maroon, purple, black or brown. A milky sap bleeds from cut stems. Flowers are small, long, axillary, usually unisexual racemes.

- Native to the Philippines.
- Also native to Bismark Archipelago, Borneo, Fiji, Jawa, Lesser Sunda Is., Maluku, New Guinea, Queensland, Santa Cruz Isl, Solomon Is., Sulawesi, Vanuatu. (28)
- A very popular cultivated ornamental in the Philippines.

- Probably native to the Moluccas.
- Cultivated in most tropical countries.

• Studies have yielded alkaloids, terpenes, flavonoids.

Study of six clone cultivars of Codiaeum variegatum showed the shoots to be rich in alkaloids (most abundant), cardiac glycosides, saponins, tannins, cardenolides, steroids and phyllates.
• Phytochemical screening of the plant yielded saponins, reducing sugars, tannins, and gums.
• Study of extracts of leaves from two varieties of CV (spiral/CP and royal like/BP) yielded (-)-Epicatechin, p-coumaric acid, rutin hydrate and ellagic acid. (see study below) (16)
• Phytochemical screening of various solvents of root, leaf, and stem yielded alkaloids (4.66 - 10.2%), carbohydrates, glycosides, steroids, flavonoids (33.1 -37.63%), coumarins, saponins (11.36 - 13.76%), fatty acids, tannins (10.5 - 18.5%), proteins and amino acids, gum and mucilage, terpenoids (27.56 - 30.3%), anthroquinones and phenols (33.43 - 39.76%). (29)
- Study of methanolic extract of C. variegatum cv. spirale yielded five flavonoids i.e., apigenin, vitexin, isovitexin, and vicenin-2 along with phenolic acids, caffeic and p-coumaric acids. (see study below) (33)

• Leaves are considered purgative, sedative, antifungal, antiamoebic, antioxidant, and anticancerous.
• Considered emmenagogue and abortifacient.

• Studies have suggested antioxidant, antifertility, molluscicidal,immunomodulating, cytotoxic, wound healing, antimicrobial, antiamoebic, antilithiatic and anticonvulsant properties.

Parts utilized
Leaves, roots, bark.


- Caution: Young leaves are reportedly used in the East Indies as vegetable, but cases of irritation have been reported. (See toxicity below)
- Freeze-dried leaf decoction taken as tea in the Philippines (Gertrudes, 2006).
- Decoction of crushed leaves for diarrhea.
- Young leaves, with Pandanus macroieacceretia, coconut milk, and root sap of areca catechu used for gonorrhea.
- Sap of leaves mixed with coconut milk used for syphilitic lesions.
- In Nigeria, root decoction used for gastric ulcers. Leaves, for antibacterial and antiamoebic uses.
- In the Kagera and Coast regions, used for the treatment of epilepsy.
- In Cameroon, leaves used for bloody diarrhea.
. In Indonesia, leaves used for the treatment of eczema.
- In Vanuatu, leaves used for amenorrhea. Chewing of 3 leaves and swallowing the juice used as emmenagogue, to induce abortion or facilitate parturition. (8)

- In Bangladesh, used by the Marma healers for fevers, cough, and colds. (23) In Unani practice, leaf juice is boiled with fruit oil of Olea europaea and massaged on painful areas. (25)
- In New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, used as abortifacient; leaves chewed and swallowed as contraceptive. In the North Solomons Province, the crushed root is mixed with sulfur and the mixture chewed to induced sterility. In Malaysia, a hot water extract is used to cause abortion. (27)
- In the Fijian Islands, bark decoction used to treat eczema, psoriasis, and allergies. Leaves also used to treat fish poisoning and gonorrhea. (28)
- In New Guinea, croton root is chewed with betel nut to treat stomachache or applied to affected area to relieve toothache. A green bath prepared from boiled leaves used for fever. Sap squeezed from leaves or incised from bark applied to sores and fungal infections. Drink prepared from leaf sap given for snake bites and applied to the affected bite area. Decoction of entire plant used to induce abortion. A mixture of crushed root mixed, volcanic sulphur and betel nut is chewed to induced sterility in women. Infusion of scraped barks of croton and Albizzia falcataria drunk for patients suffering with rectal prolapse. (34)

Phytochemicals: Phytochemical screening of six clone cultivars of Codiaeum variegatum showed bioactive constituents that included alkaloids, anthraquinones, flavanoids, terpenes, steroid, phenol, saponins, tannins, phlobatannin and cardenolide which suggests their use as antibacterial, antiamoebic and antifungal. (2)
Antiamoebic: Study evaluated 55 traditional medicinal plants in Cameroon for amoebicidal activities. using a polyxenic culture of Entamoeba histolytica. Of 14 extracts that exhibited antiamoebic activity on initial screening, only the leaves extract of Codiaeum variegatum exhibited clear antiamoebic activity (EC50=10.74 on the second day), with a more pronounced activity than reference metronidazole. (3)
Anti-influenza: A screening of seven Euphorbiaceae species showed C variegatum to be one of three with relevant anti-FLUAV activity from an isolated cyanoglucoside. (4)
Anti-convulsant / Leaves: Study evaluated aqueous and methanol extracts of inhibitory effect on picrotoxin-induced convulsions in adult Theiller's while albino mice. A methanol extract showed significant (P<0.05) protection of mice against picrotoxin-induced convulsions via oral and i.p. routes.
Immunostimulating / Spermatotoxic: Study on 24 male albino rats with feeds supplemented by pulverized dry leaves of C variegatum showed immunostimulating and spermatotoxic effects. (6)
Molluscicidal Activity: Study showed the latex of Codiaeum variegatum had high molluscicidal activity against freshwater snail. (7)
Wound Healing / Root: Study evaluated the wound healing activity of a root incorporated in a simple ointment in excision, incision, and burn wound models in rats. Results showed remarkable wound healing activity in measures of wound contracting ability, wound closure time, and tensile strength. (11)
Antimicrobial Activity: Study evaluated the antibacterial activity of three varieties of Codiaeum variegatum against six different bacterial strains. Zones of inhibition varied with the plant varieties. The largest zone of inhibition was seen with a leaf callus extract of var. Punctatum aureum against Arthrobacter. (14)
Cytotoxicity: Phytochemical screening yielded the presence of saponins, reducing sugars, tannins, and gums. Brine shrimp lethality bioassay indicates that the plant has cytotoxic properties. (15) In a study of 61 medicinal plants of Malaysia for cytotoxicity against HeLa cell line, Codiaenum variegatum was one of 18 plants that showed cytotoxic activity. (26)
Antioxidant / Phenolic Content: Study evaluated in vitro antioxidant potential of two varieties of C. variegatum leaves using various assays. Extracts showed effective DPPH radical scavenging, hydrogen peroxide radical scavenging, and NO scavenging activity. Extracts yielded (-)-epicatechin, p-coumaric acid, rutin hydrate and ellagic acid. Results showed CV leaves contain high amount of phenolic compounds which may be responsible for its biologic activities in folkloric medicine. (16)
Anti-Amoebic / Entamoeba histolytica: Study searched for active components from C. variegatum against Entamoeba histolytica and their mechanism of action. Subfractions were identified with significantly higher anti-amoebic activity. Results suggest regulation of ceramide biosynthesis pathway as a target for anti-amoebic compounds could be an alternative for drug development against E. histolytica. (17)
Antibacterial / Fresh Leaves: Study evaluated the antibacterial activity of extract of fresh leaves against four test microorganisms, viz. E. coli, P. aeruginosa, B. subtilis and S. aureus. (19)
Antiviral / Cytotoxicity: In a study evaluating some plants used in Malaysian indigenous medicine, C. variegatum showed activity against VSV (vesicular stomatitis viruses) and cytotoxicity using the HeLa cell line assay. (20)
Larvicidal / Culex quinquefasciatus: Study evaluated five species of Philippine plants for larvicidal potential against Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus. Codiaeum variegatum showed to be the third most potent larvicide against Culex quinquefasciatus. The leaves have previously shown molluscicidal properties against Oncomelania hypensis quadrasi (Garcia, 1990) which suggests an inherent pesticidal component in the leaves. (22)
Genotoxic and Mutagenic Testing of Extract and Amoebicidal Fraction:Study evaluated the genotoxic and mutagenic potential of an aqueous extract and isolated sub-fraction. Results showed the aqueous extract of CV and the amoebicidal fraction SF9B are neither genotoxic on non-competent or metabolic competent cell lines, nor mutagenic in mouse lymphoma mutation assay and therefore can be safely used at lower doses for medicinal purpose. (24)
• Cytotoxicity / Human Leukemic, Breast, and Prostate Cancer Cell Lines: Study evaluated crude extracts and fractions of stem bark and leaf for cytotoxic activity against human leukemic, breast and prostate cancer cell lines. Both crude extracts showed antiproliferative activity towards all cancer cell lines, with the stem bark showing strongest cytotoxicity. Mechanism of cell death was attributed to apoptosis. On further testing, a chloroform fraction of crude extract of stem bark showed increase cytotoxicity against Jurkat cells with IC50 of 44.71 ± 0.44 µg/mL. (30)
• Antilithiatic: In-vitro study of an ethanolic extract of Codiaeum variegatum showed antilithiatic activity in a synthetic urine preparation. (31)
• Histological Effects on Rat Cerebrum / Leaves: Study of ethanolic leaf extract showed adverse effect on the cerebrum of adult Wistar rats as evidenced by sparse cellular population migroglial infiltration, focal and liquefactive necrosis when compared to the control group. (32)
• Phenolic Compounds / Vitexin, Isovitexin, Apigenin / Antioxidant Activity: Study evaluated the antioxidant activity of compounds isolated from a methanol extract of C. variegatum cv. spirale. Vitexin exhibited highest DPPH radical scavenging antioxidant activity (IC50=8.95 µg/ml). Vitexin and isovitexin showed significant reducing power (RP50=8.65 and 9.27 µg/ml, respectively). Apigenin showed highest activity against lipid peroxidation (IC50=31.82 µg/ml). (see constituents above) (33)
• Tumor Promoting Activity: A 1995 study screened 48 species of Euphorbiaceae with an in vitro assay using a human lymphoblastoid cell line harboring the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) genome. Twenty-seven percent (13/48) were found positive, and four species, including Codiaeum variegatum, exhibited EBV-inducing activity. Study suggests caution for the regular users of these plants because of its tumor-promoting activity. (36)
• Antipyretic / Leaves: Study evaluated an ethanol fraction of leaf extract for antipyretic activity in male mice with fever was induced by DPT-HB-HIB vaccine. The extract at dose of 143 and 286 mg/kbw showed antipyretic effect, statistically similar to paracetamol. (38)
• Protective Against Genotoxicity Induced by Carmustine / Leaves: Carmustine (Cr) is a chemotherapeutic drug used in the treatment of brain tumors. Study evaluated the protective role of C. variegatum leaves ethyl acetate fraction against genotoxicity of Cr. Cr induced significant increase in MPCEs and chromosomal aberrations (CAs) in the bone marrow, induced significant percentage of CA in spermatocytes in meiosis, and significant morphological sperm abnormalities.  C. variegatum mitigated all deleterious genotoxic effects of Cr. Chemical analysis showed flavones (35.21%) and phenolic acids (17.62%) as main components. (39)
• Antidiarrheal / Tannin Content / Leaves: Study evaluated the antidiarrheal activity using castor oil-induced diarrhea in mice and total tannin content of ethanolic extract of leaves of Codiaeum variegatum.
Results showed a positive anti-diarrheal effect with inhibition of mean number of defecation by 40.81% and 59.18% (p<0.01 and p<0.001) at 250 and 500 mg/kbw, respectively, along with increase in latent period in the extract group. The total tannin content was significant and high (241.41 mg/g of tannic acid equivalent). Phytochemical screening of leaf extract yielded carbohydrate (reducing sugars), gums, steroids, alkaloids, and tannins. (40)

Toxicity !
• Chewing on the bark and roots can cause burning around and in the mouth. Some leaves are reported irritant. Latex have been reported to cause eczema.
• There has been a report of occupational contact dermatitis.
Report of Contact Dermatitis: Study reports on a case of contact eczema in a nursery gardener. Patch tests with Croton leaves were positive. Results suggest: (1) the latex produces no primary irritant reaction, (2) the latex can induce contact allergy, and (3) contact allergens are constituent of the milky sap. Sensitization experiments in guinea pigs with methanolic extract of leaves were successful. (21)
- Toxicity is attributed to chemical compound 5-desoxyingenol. The plant also contains an oil that is violently purgative, and suspected of being a carcinogen. Consumption of the seeds has been reported fatal to children. (37)


Updated Dec 2022 / June 2018 / May 2017 / January 2016

Photos / Content © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE:  Photograph: Codiaeum variegatum -- Cbaile19 / CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication / Wikimedia Commons
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Photograph: Codiaeum variegatum -- Louise Wolff / CC by SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Cultivars of Codiaeum variegatum (L.) Blume (Euphorbiaceae) show variability in phytochemical and cytological characteristics / African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 6 (20), pp. 2400-2405, 18 October 2007 / http://www.academicjournals.org/AJB / / ISSN 1684–5315 © 2007 Academic Journals
In vitro anti-influenza screening of several Euphorbiaceae species: Structure of a bioactive Cyanoglucoside from Codiaeum variegatum / Phytochemistry Volume 69, Issue 16, November 2008, Pages 2815-2819 / doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2008.09.003
A study of the effect of extracts of Codiaeum variegatum (L.) A. Juss on Picrotoxin-induced convulsions in mice / M J Moshi, G A Kagashe / Tanzania Medical Journal, 2004; Vol 19, No 1
Effect of experimental feeding of Codiaeum variegatum leaves on growth, hematology, gonadal, and extra-gonadal sperm reserves of adult albino rats / Shoyinka S V Olumuyiwa et al / Comparative Clinical Pathology • DOI 10.1007/s00580-009-0894-8
Maternity and medicinal plants in Vanuatu I. The cycle of reproduction / G Bourdya and A Walterb / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 37 (1992) 179-196 /
Codiaeum variegatum (Linnaeus) Rumphius ex A. Jussieu / Chinese names / Catalogue of Life, China
Codiaeum variegatum / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED
Study on Wound Healing Activity of Root of Codiaeum variegatum
/ G. Sangeetha, L Mohan Krishna, G Aruna, M Sekar Babu, G Balammal / International Journal of Innovative Drug Discovery, Vo 1, Issue 1, 2011, 19-23.
Occupational contact dermatitis due to croton (Codiaeum variegatum (L.) A. Juss var. pictum (Lodd.) Muell. Arg.). Sensitization by plants of the Euphorbiaceae. / Hausen BM, Schulz KH. / Contact Dermatitis. 1977 Dec;3(6):289-92.
Notes on poisoning: Codiaeum variegatum / Canada
ANTIMICROBIAL ACTIVITY OF LEAF EXTRACTS OF CODIAEUM VARIEGATUM (L.) BLUME / Bhot, M; Saha, M; Phatak, A; Chandra, N / Health and Environmental Research, 2010, Vol 4, Issue 1, Apr 2010.
Phytochemical and Cytotoxic Investigation of Codiaeum variegatum Linn. Leaf / Dr. Md Ashraful Alam / S. J. Pharm. Sci. 3(2): 51-53
In Vitro Anti-Oxidant Activity and HPLC-DAD System Based Phenolic Content Analysis of Codiaeum Variegatum Found in Bangladesh / Nadia Saffoon, Riaz Uddin, Nusrat Subhan, Hemayet Hossain, Hasan Reza, Md Ashraful Alam * / Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin 1;0(0)
Bioassay-Guided Fractionation of Extracts from Codiaeum variegatum against Entamoeba histolytica Discovers Compounds That Modify Expression of Ceramide Biosynthesis Related Genes / Emmanuel Mfotie Njoya, Christian Weber, and Nancy Guillén / PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Jan 2014; 8(1): e2607 / DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0002607
Antibacterial activity of the extracts of the fresh leaves of Codiaeum variegatum cv. (L.) BI. (croton), family euphorbiacea / Florabel T. Gastador, Irish O. Oling / Thesis / March 2011
Antiviral and Cytotoxic Activities of Som.e Plants Used in Malaysian Indigenous Medicine / ABDUL MANAF ALI, MUHAMMAD MUKRAM MACKEEN, SALEH H. EI-SHARKAWY , JUNAINAH A. HAMID, NOR HADIANI ISMAIL, FAUJAN B. H. AHMAD and NORDIN H. LAJIS / Pertanika J. Trop. Agric. Sci. 19(2/3): 129-136 (1996)
Occupational contact dermatitis due to Croton (Codiaeum variegatum (L.) A. Juss var. pictum (Lodd.) Muell. Arg.) Sensitization by plants of the Euphorbiaceae / B. M. Hausen* andK. H. Schulz / Contact Dermatitis
Volume 3, Issue 6, pages 289–292, June 1977 / DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0536.1977.tb03688.x
Ethnomedicinal applications of plants by the traditional healers of the Marma tribe of Naikhongchhari, Bandarban district, Bangladesh. / Corresponding author: Dr. Mohammed Rahmatullah / Study was supported by internal funding from the University of Development Alternative.
In vitro genotoxic and mutagenic evaluation of the aqueous extract of Codiaeum variegatum and its amoebicidal sub-fraction. / Emmanuel Mfotie Njoya, Paul F Moundipa, Helga Stopper / J Ethnopharmacol 2014 Aug 24;155(1):823-9. Epub 2014 Jun 24.
/ Istieake Ahmed, Sabbir Ahmed Opu, Ahmed Abrar Muttaki, Md. Al-Mamun, Md. Tabibul Islam, Protiva Rani Das, Mohammed Rahmatullah* / WORLD JOURNAL OF PHARMACY AND PHARMACEUTICAL SCIENCES, Volume 4, Issue 11, 186-198
Anticancer and Immunomodulatory Studies / Chapter 5 / Shodhganga
Codiaeum variegatum (L.) Bl. var moluccanum (Dec.) Muell. Arg / R. C. Cambie, Alexandra Brewis / Anti-fertility Plants of the Pacific
Codiaeum variegatum / KEW: Plants of the World Online
Phytochemical profile of Codiaeum variegatum (L.) Bl. / Sangha R Bijekar, M.C.Gayatri / nternational Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2014; 2(3): pp 22-31
Extracts of Codiaeum variegatum (L.) A. Juss is Cytotoxic on Human Leukemic, Breast and Prostate Cancer Cell Lines / Mathias Tawiah Anim, Christopher Larbie, Regina Appiah-Opong, Abigail Aning et al / Jour of Applied Pharm Science , Dec 2016; 6(11): pp 87-93 / DOI: 10.7324/JAPS.2016.601114
In-Vitro Antilithiatic Effect of Ethanolic Extract of Codiaeum Variegatum (L.) Blume / Urmilesh Jha*, Anoop Singh, Rajesh J Oswal / Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical Technology & Innovation, 2016; 4(17): pp 95-102
Histological effects of ethanolic leaf extract of Codiaeum variegatum on the cerebrum of adult Wistar rats / Elizabeth Finbarrs-Bello, Ogugua Augustine Egwu, Vivian Atuadu, Eni Ogbonnia Egwu / Journal of Experimental & Clinical Anatomy, 2016; Vol 15, Issue 1: pp 1-4
Phenolic Metaboloites and Antioxidant Activity of Codiaeum variegatum CV. spirale / Emad M. Hassan, Rasmia A. Hassan, Sayed A. El-Toumy, Samy M. Mohamed, Elsayed A. Omer /
Journal of Pharmacy Research, 2014; 8(5): pp 619-623
Medicinal Plants in Papua New Guinea: Codiaeum variegata: / WHO: Western Pacific Region
Common plant could help fight Zika virus (Extract of leaves of the San Francisco plant (Codiaeum variegatum) kill larvae of a mosquito that helps spread diseases) / Jerouen Paul Lumabao / Science News for Students
Tumour promoter activity in Malaysian Euphorbiaceae / AW Norhanom and M Yadav / British Journal of Cancer (1995); 71: pp 776-779

Codiaeum variegatum / Wikipedia
Antipyretic effect of ethanol extract of plant leaves of Garden Croton (Codiaeum variegatum) in male mice / Mohammad Kanedi, Wawan Abdullah Setiawan, Kusuma Handayani, Nopiansyah, Vivi Febriyanti / GSC Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2021; 14(3) / DOI : 10.30574/gscbps.2021.14.3.0087 /
eISSN: 2581-3250
Protective role of Codiaeum variegatum against gebnotoxicity induced by carmustine in somatic and germ cells of male mice / Maha A Fahmy, Ayman A Farghaly, Howaida I Abd-Alla et al / Molecular Biology Reports, 2022; 49: pp 9543-9553 / DOI: 10.1007/s11033-022-07845-9
Antidiarrhoeal activity and total tannin content of ethanolic leaf extract of Codiaeum variegatum / Zubair Khalid Labu, Farhina Rahman Laboni, Mir Md Abdullah-Al Mamun and Md Sariful Islam Howlader / Dhaka Univ. J Pharm Sci., 2015; 14(1): pp 87-90


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