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Family Apocynaceae
Strophanthus caudatus (L.) Kurz
Luan e yang jiao niu

Scientific names Common names
Apocynum floristratum Noronha Abuhab-baging (Tag.)
Echites caudatus L. Lanot (Ilk.)
Nerium caudatum (L.) Lam. Lasiu (Ibn.)
Nerium scandens Lour. Lasuiu (Ibn.)
Strophanthus caudatus (L.) Kurz. Sara-sara (Ilk.)
Strophanthus caudatus var. billardierei Franch. Medusa gorgona (Engl.)
Strophanthus caudatus var. giganteus Pit. Red rapunzel (Engl.)
Strophanthus caudatus var. javensis Franch. Twisted cord flower bush (Engl.)
Strophanthus caudatus var. lanceolatus Franch.  
Strophanthus caudatus var. macrophyllus Franch.  
Strophanthus caudatus f. marckii (A.DC.) Franch.  
Strophanthus caudatus f. undulatus Franch.  
Strophanthus cumingii A.DC.  
Strophanthus dichotomus DC.  
Strophanthus dichotomus var. cochinchinensis Ker Gawl.  
Strophanthus dichotomus var. loureiroi A.DC.  
Strophanthus dichotomus var. luzoniensis S.Vidal  
Strophanthus dichotomus var. marckii A.DC.  
Strophanthus erectus Merr.  
Strophantus giganteus Pierre.  
Strophanthus griffithii Wight  
Strophanthus horsfieldianus Miq.  
Strophanthus letei Merr.  
Strophanthus longicaudatus Wight  
Strophanthus macrophyllus (Franch.) Pierre  
Strophanthus pierrei F.Heim  
Strophanthus scandens (Lour.) Roem. & Schult.  
Strophanthus terminalis Blume  
Quisumbing's compilation lists Strophanthus letei Merr. (Sarasara) as a separate species from Strophanthus cumingii A. DC. Plants of the World Online lists both S. letei and S. cumingii as synonyms of Strophanthus caudatus (L.) Kurz.
Strophanthus cumingii A.DC. is a synonym of Strophanthus caudatus (L.) Kurz.
Strophanthus caudatus (L.) Kurz is an accepted species. KEW: Plants of the World Online
Note: Sara-sara (Strophanthus letei Merr.) and Abuhab-baging (Strophanthus caudatus L.) are synonyms, and have been merged into one entry as Abuhab-baging.

Other vernacular names
CHINA: Luan e yang jiao niu.
MALAYSIA: Tandok-tandok, Tanduk-tanduk, Dudur kijang.
VIETNAM: Sung chau.

Gen info
• Strophantus is a genus of 35-40 species of flowering plants in the Apocynaceae family.
• Etymology: The genus Strophanthus derives from Greek Strophos anthos, meaning "twisted cord flower", referring to the long twisted threadlike segments of the corolla. The species epithet is Latin, caudatus meaning "tailed". (2)

Abuhab-baging is a stout, smooth, woody vine which , when young, may be erect and shrub-like. Leaves are elliptic-ovate, 8 to 15 centimeters long, and slightly pointed at the base, with a short point at the tip. Inflorescences are terminal, smooth, and few-flowered. Calyx lobes are slender and 7 to 9 millimeters long. Corolla is very characteristic; the tube is white, about 2 centimeters long with lobes which are about 8 millimeters wide at the base and continuing into long, slender and drooping tips. Lobes are about 1 centimeters long. Fruit is a double follicle. Follicle is woody, oblong-ovoid, about 16 centimeters long and 7 centimeters in diameter, containing numerous, elongated seeds, each of which terminates in very long projections with numerous long hairs.

Strophanthus caudatus is a trailing shrub to a woody climber that can grow up to 12 m long. Leaves are opposite, shortly stalked, wit thickly papery to leathery leaf blades that are elliptic-oblong or drop-shaped and measures 4.2 - 17.5 cm long, 1.5–7.5 cm across, with 6-12 pairs of veins. Leaf blade has acuminate to rounded leaf tip, and cuneate base. Stems are about 2 cm in diameter. Bark is dark and dotted with many lenticels. Flowers grow in axillary, stalked, few-flowered clusters. Calyx lobes are egg-shaped, and 0.6 cm wide, with long narrow tails. Its corolla-tube is white and 1.3 cm long with purplish-red lobes with white and yellow in the center. Fruits are large and woody, green, oblong-shaped, and about 10-30 cm long, 1.9-4.8 cm in diameter, wit small grain-like seeds. 

- Native to the Philippines.
- Found in thickets and forests at low and medium altitudes in Cagayan, Abra, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Batangas, Rizal, Cavite, Bataan, Laguna, and Sorsogon Provinces in Luzon; and in Palawan, Leyte, Negros and Mindanao.

- From sea level to 1,000 m altitude.
- Also native to Andaman Is., Borneo, Cambodia, China, India, Jawa, Laos, Lesser Sunda Is., Malaya, Maluku, Myanmar, New Guinea, Nicobar Is., Sulawesi, Sumatera, Thailand, Vietnam.
- In the Malaysian Red Plant List classified as Near Threatened (NT).

- Seeds, like that of other species of the genus Strophanthus, yield the glucoside, strophanthin.
- Strophanthin is a digitalis glucoside used as a heart stimulant.
- Bark, as with other Strophanthus species, probably yields strophanthin.
- Study of 80% ethanol extract of folium yielded terpenoid, glycoside, saponin, anthraquinone; cortex yielded alkaloid, terpenoid, tannin, glycoside, saponin.

- Studies have shown suggested chronotropic cardiac effects, α-glucosidase inhibitory property. 

Parts used
Leaves, bark, seeds.


- The Ayta in Dinalupihan, Bataan, apply stem sap on bleeding wounds. (8)
- In Vietnam, the Dao use decoction whole plant for treatment of hypertension. (7
- Seeds used as heart stimulant.
- Used as diuretic.
- Poison:
In the Philippines, bark is employed as an effective arrow-poison.
In Vietnam, also used as fish poison.

The glycosides of Strophanthus cumingii A. DC. were compared with cardiogenic glycosides (digitoxin, ouabain, and strophanthin) by paper chromatography. (1)
• Chronotropic Cardioactivity / Bark: Study evaluated the cardioactivity of bark extract of S. cumingii and its sub-fractions on isolated frog hearts. The hexane fraction was the most cardioactive with maximum 30.58% increase in force of contraction and 38.24% increase in frequency of contraction. The non-polar fraction of the crude extract from bark elicited a positive inotropic and negative chronotropic effect. (4)

• α-Glucosidase Inhibitory Activity: In a study screening 45 samples for in-vitro α-glucosidase activity, 37 samples, including Strophanthus caudatus (Blume.f.) Kurz cortex (IC50 13.93 µg/ml)showed IC50 values between 2.33 µg/ml and 112.02 µg/ml, which were lower than acarbose at 117.20 µg/mL. (9)

- Wild-crafted.
- Ornamental cultivation.

y - gamma


y - gamma

Updates June 2023 / January 2017

OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Photo: Twisted Cord Flower Bush (Strophanthus caudatus) / © URBAN Tropicals / Non-commercial use / Click on image or link to go to source page / URBAN Tropicals
IMAGE SOURCE: Flowering stem / Strophanthus caudatus / Photograph by Yee Alex Thiam Koon / Creative Commons • CC by NC.SA 2.0 / click on image or link to go to source page / Useful Tropical Plants
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Illustration / Apocynaceae-Strophanthus caudatus - S. dichotomus / From I'horticulteur universal. journal general des jardiniers et amateurs by Charles Lemaire (editor), Paris, H. Cousin, 1841, Vol 2. Hand-coloured engraving / Click on image to go to source page / Meemelink
Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Studies on Philippine medicinal plants. I. Paper chormatography and spectrophotometric determination.
/ Manalo GD, Lleander GC / Philippine Journal of Science, 1961
Strophanthus / The Full Wiki
Strophanthus caudatus / Synonyms / KEW: Plants of the World Online
Also read: Sarasara
Strophanthus caudatus / National Parks: FLORA & FAUNA WEB
TRADITIONAL MEDICINAL PLANTS IN BEN EN NATIONAL PARK, VIETNAM / Hoang Van Sam, Pieter Baas, Paul J A Kebler / BLUMEA,  2008; 53: pp 569-601 / DOI: 10.3767/000651908X607521
Ethnobotanical Survey of Medicinal Plants used by Ayta Communities in Dinalupihan, Bataan, Philippines/ Ourlad Alzeus G. Tantengco, Marlon Lian C. Condes, Hanna Hasmini T. Estadilla, Elena M. Ragragio / Pharmacogn J., 2018; 10(5): pp 859-870 
Screening of α-Glucosidase Inhibitory Activity from Some Plants of Apocynaceae, Clusiaceae, Euphorbiaceae, and Rubiaceae / Berna Elya, Katrin Basah, Abdul Mun’im, Wulan Yuliastuti, Anastasia Bangun, and Eva Kurnia Septiana / Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, 2012; Article ID 281078 / doi:10.1155/2012/281078 

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

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