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 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
- 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 tannins, flavonoids, saponins, steroids, cardiac glycosides, and terpenoids.
- Pancratistatin isolated from the bulbs.
- Studies on lycorine has shown antineoplastic cytotoxic, and antiviral properties.
- 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.
• Cytotoxicity: 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.
• Anti-tumor: 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.
• 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
• Pancratistatin / Anticancer: (1) 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. The report describes a method for large-scale production. (2) 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.
• 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.
• 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.