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Family Amaryllidaceae
Spider lily
Hymenocallis littoralis
(Jacq.) Salisb.


Scientific names  Common names
Pancratium littorale Jacq. Ajos-ajos nga maputi (Bis.)
Pancratium illyricum Blanco Bakong (Tag..) 
Pancratium maritinum Blanco Lirio (Span.) 
Hymenocallis adnata Herb. Spider lily (Engl.)
Hymenocallis littoralis (Jacq.) Salisb. Beach spiderlily (Engl.)
Hymenocallis tennuiflora Herb. Beach hymenocallis (Engl.)
Hymenocallis tennuiflora Herb. Pancratium (Engl.)
Bakong is a local name shared by (1) Crinum asiaticum (2) Crinum latifolium, lirio and (3) Hymenocallis littorale, spider lily.
Spider lily is a shared common name of (1) Hymenocallis littorale, bakong, lirio and (2) Crinum asiaticum
Lirio is a common name shared by (1) Crinum latifolium (2) Hymenocallis littorale.

Spider lily is a bulbous, herbaceous plant. Leaves are fleshy, crowded, dark green and glossy, narrowly lanceolate, 0.5 to 1 meter long, 6 to 7 centimeters wide. Scape is erect, solid, somewhat compressed, about 0.5 meter tall, bearing at its apex few to many, sessile, umbellate flowers. The flowers are fragrant with the perianth-tube greenish below and whitish above, about 12 centimeters long, the lobes linear, white, and spreading, 10 centimeters long and 5 to 7 millimeters wide. The membraneous cup connecting the filaments is white, funnel-shaped, 4 to 5 centimeters diameter. The anthers are green and erect.

- Cultivated as ornamental hedge in Manila and other large towns.
- Grows wild in waste places, through bulb reproduction.
- Found in a broad range of growing conditions, from wet and boggy to dry areas.

- Native of tropical America.

- Yields a toxic alkaloid, lycorine, which is responsible for its emetic property. The roots contain 0.015 per cent of the alkaloid.
- Phytochemical screening yielded the presence of alkaloids, volatile constituents, tannins, flavonoids, flavonols, saponins, steroids, cardiac glycosides, and terpenoids.
- Pancratistatin isolated from the bulbs.
- Phytochemical screening of bulb and flowers isolated four alkaloids, lycorine (1), hippeastrine (2), 11‐hydroxyvittatine (3), and (+)‐8‐O‐demethylmaritidine (4), and of two flavonoids, quercetin 3′‐O‐glucoside (5), and rutin (6).
GC-MS study of flowers for volatile compounds yielded 26 known compounds . (8)

- Emetic.
- Studies on lycorine has shown antineoplastic cytotoxic, and antiviral properties.

Parts utilized
Bulb, roots.

- In the Philippines, the bulb is the only part of the plant used for wound healing.
- In Lao, roots boiled in water, used for testicles too low because of excessive running.
- Mixture of oil and crushed bulbs applied on face to treat freckles and blemishes.

Methylflavan / Antioxidant: Study isolated 7,4'-dihydroxy-8-methylflavan from the extract of P littorale stem and assessed for its radical scavenging properties. (1)
Cytotoxicity / Pancrastistatin: A 1993 study isolated pancratistatin (PST) from H littoralis which displayed potent cytotoxicity against a human tumor cell line. A recent study showed selectivity of PST to cancer cells and sparing of normal cells. This study investigated the anti-cancer efficacy and specificity of two PST-related natural compounds, AMD4 and AMD5. Results showed AMD5 had efficacy and selectivity similar to PST and AMD4 lacked apoptotic activity. The phenanthridone skeleton in natural Amaryllidaceae alkaloids may be a common element for selectivity against cancer cells.   (2)
Anti-tumor / Alkaloids: The biologic activities of isocarbostyril alkaloids showed excellent in vitro and in vivo cytotoxicity against many tumor cell lines and high selectivity for cancer cells versus normal cells. (3)
Lycorine Alkaloids / Littoraline / HI Reverse Transcriptase Inhibition / Cytotoxicity: Study isolated a new alkaloid, littoraline, with 13 other known lycorine alkaloids and one lignan. Littoraline showed inhibitory activity of HIV reverse transcriptase and lycorine and haemanthamine showed potent in vitro cytotoxicity. (4)
Pancratistatin / Anticancer / Large Scale Production: Study reports on a method for large scale production of H. littoralis by tissue culture. The species serves as an effective source of pancratistatin, a powerful anticancer agent. Pancratistatin is primarily produced in the bulbs, to a lesser extent, in the roots, and not in the seeds and leaves. Bulbs cultivated in Arizona yielded ca. 9-24 mg/kg f.w. (5) Narciclasine was employed as precursor for synthetic conversion to natural (+) pancratistatin. ()
Alkaloids: Phytochemical screening of bulbs and flowers yielded four alkaloids: lycorine, hippeastrine, 11-hydroxyvittatine, and (+)-8-O-demethylmaritidine, plus two flavonoids, quercetin 3-O-glucoside and rutin. Study investigated the antimicrobial activity of a petroleum ether extract of the flowers.
Narcistatin / Antineoplastic: Human cancer cell line inhibitory isocarbostyril precursors were isolated from the bulbs of Hymenocallis littoralis from the horticultural production or reduction of narciclasine 1a-4 from the same source. (9)
Anti-Candida Activity: Study evaluated the inhibitory activity of a methanol extract of various plant parts against Candia albicans. The flower and anther were effect at 6.25 mg/ml. (10)
Antimicrobial: Study evaluated an aqueous extract against three organisms: E. coli, S. aureus, and Candida albicans. Varied concentrations showed inhibitory activity against all the tested organisms.
Antibacterial: Ethyl acetate and methanol extracts of leaves, flowers, and stem barks showed antibacterial activity against B. subtilis.
Anti-Inflammatory / Flowers: Study evaluated the anti-inflammatory potential of crude extract of flowers using inhibition of protein denaturation method. Successive ethanol extract have shown potent anti-inflammatory activity by HRBC membrane stabilization method with 83.46% and 84.72% for 100 and 500 µg/ml, respectively. (12)
Wound Healing / Bulb, Roots, Stem, Anther: Study evaluated the wound healing activity of various methanol extracts of H. littoralis. Bulbs, roots, and anther extracts exhibited wound healing activity at 1 µg/ml at 16 h of treatment. (13)
Biofilm Inhibition / Leaves: Study evaluated antimicrobial, antioxidant, and antibiofilm potentials of H. littoralis against pathogenic microorganisms using experiment and computtional biology methods. Promising antibiofilm and antimicrobial activities were confirmed against S. aureus NCIM 2654 and C. albicans NCIM 3466. Leaf extract showed good antioxidant activity attributed to phenols and flavonoids. The in vitro and in silico results suggest potential for design of new lead compounds against biofilm producing pathogenic microorganisms. (14)
Lycorine Quantification in Different Plant Parts: Study developed an analytical method using HPLC for quantification of lycorine in various plant extracts and tissue culture of H. littoralis. The bulb extract yielded hihest lycorine content with 2.54 ± 0.02 µg/mg; the root extract yielding least with 0.71 ± 0.02 µg/mg. The analytical method has potential for quantification of lycorine in tissue culture production and standardization. (15)
Brine Shrimp Cytotoxicity of Various Plant Parts: Study evaluated the correlation between brine shrimp lethality test (BSL( abd anticancer activity in various methanolic extracts of H. littoralis root, bulb, anther, and leaves. A methanol leaf extrct showed highest cytotoxic effect to the nauplii followed by bulb, root, anther, stem, and flower. Results indicate the extracts are toxic at low concentrations. Studies were suggested to evaluated in vivo toxicity and cytotoxicity assay in mammalian cell lines for safe application to humans. (16)
Anti-Arthritic / Flowers: Study evaluated the anti-arthritic potntial of a crude extract of flowers using inhibition of protein denaturation method. Results showed potentdose-dependent anti-arthritic activity by inhibition of protein denaturation method. (17)


Updated Dec 2019 /Apr 2013

Photos ©Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
A methylflavan with free radical scavenging properties from Pancratium littorale/ Jean-Robert Ioset et al / Fitoterapia Vol 72, Issue 1, January 2001, Pages 35-39 / doi:10.1016/S0367-326X(00)00250-1
Selective cytotoxicity of Pancratistatin-related natural Amaryllidaceae alkaloids: evaluation of the activity of two new compounds / Carly Griffin, Natasha Sharda et al / Cancer Cell Int. 2007; 7: 10. / doi: 10.1186/1475-2867-7-10.
Amaryllidaceae Isocarbostyril Alkaloids and Their Derivatives as Promising Antitumor Agents / Laurent Ingrassia, Florence Lefranc et al / Transl Oncol. 2008 March; 1(1): 1–13.
Lycorine alkaloids from Hymenocallis littoralis/ Long-Ze Lin, Shu-Fang Hu et al / Phytochemistry Vol 40, Issue 4, November 1995, Pages 1295-129 / doi:10.1016/0031-9422(95)00372-E
BIOSYNTHESIS OF THE ANTINEOPLASTIC PANCRATISTATIN FOLLOWING TISSUE CULTURE OF HYMENOCALLIS LITTORALIS (AMARYLLIDACEAE) / R A Backhaus et al / ISHS Acta Horticulturae 306: International Symposium on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, XXIII IHC, Art No 306_49: pp 364-366 / DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.1992.306.49
The role of medicinal plants in the provision of health care in Lao PDR
/ Claudio O Delang / Journal of Medicinal Plants Research Vol. 1(3), pp. 050-059, October 2007
Antineoplastic Agents. 450. Synthesis of (+)-Pancratistatin from (+)-Narciclasine as Relay / George R Pettit, Noeleen Melody and Delbert Herald / J. Org. Chem., 2001, 66 (8), pp 2583–2587
DOI: 10.1021/jo000710n
Phytochemical and biological investigation of Hymenocallis littoralis SALISB. / Amina H Abou-Donia, Soad M Toaima et al / Chemistry biodiversity, 2008; 5(2): pp 332-340 /  https://doi.org/10.1002/cbdv.200890031
Antineoplastic Agents. 527. Synthesis of 7-Deoxynarcistatin, 7-Deoxy-trans-dihydronarcistatin, and trans-Dihydronarcistatin 1 / George Pettit and Noeleen Melody / J. Nat. Prod., 2005, 68 (2), pp 207–211
DOI: 10.1021/np0304518
Anti-candida activity by Hymenocallis littoralis extracts for opportunistic oral and genital infection Candida albicans / Jeevandran Sundarasekar, Geethaa Sahgal, Sreeramanan Subramaniam / Bangladesh Journal of Pharmacology, Vol 7, No 3 (2012)
Extraction and Evaluation of Antibacterial Activity from Selected Flowering Plants
/ Erlina Abdullah, Raha Ahmad Raus and Parveen Jamal / American Medical Journal, 2012; 3(1): pp 27-32
Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Ethanolic Extract of Flowers Hymenocallis littoralis (Jacq.) Salisb. By HRBC Membrane Stabilization Method / Ramadoss Karthikeyan, Sai Koushik O, Srinivasa Babu P and Jayendra Chunduru / Translational Biomedicine, 2016; 7(2) / DOI: 10.21767/2172-0479.100060
Wound healing activity of Hymenocallis littoralis - Moving beyond ornamental plant / Geetha Sahgal, Jeevandran Sundarasekar, Vikneswaran Murugaiyah et al / Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nov 2018; 31(6): pp 2537-2543
Biofilm inhibition mechanism from extract of Hymenocallis littoralis leaves. / Nadaf NH, Parulekar RS, Patil RS, Gade TK, Momin AA et al / 2018 Aug 10; 222:121-132. / doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2018.04.031.
Comparative analysis of lycorine in wild plant and callus culture samples of hymenocallis littoralis by HPLC-UV method / Subramaniam S, Sundarasekar J, Sahgal G et al / Scientific World Journal (2014) /DOI: 10.1155/2014/408306
Brine Shrimp Cytotoxicity Activity for Different Parts of Hymenocallis littoralis / Geethaa Sahgat, Jeevandran Sundrasekar, and Sreeramanan Subramaniam / Rapports De Pharmacie, 2017; 3(4): pp 423-428
Anti-Arthritic Activity of Ethanolic Extract of Hymenocallis littoralis (Jacq.) Salisb. by Bovine Serum Denaturation Method / Karthikeyan, H Anusha, D Kavya, P Sai Prathyusha, D Gnana Bhaskar, P Srinivasa Babu  / Inventi Rapid-Ethnopharmacology, Apr-Jun 2016; 2:1-2

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