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Family Hemerocallidaceae / Liliaceae
Sword leaf dianella
Dianella ensifolia (L.) DC.

Shan jian lan

Scientific names Common names
Charlwoodia ensata (Thunb.) Goop. Cerulean flax-lily (Engl.)
Conanthera forsteri Spreng Dianella (Engl.)
Cordyline ensifolia (L.) Planch. New Zealand lilyplant (Engl.)
Dianella arbiflora Hallier f. Sword leaf dianella (Engl.)
Dianella carinata Hallier f. Umbrella dracaena (Engl.)
Dianella ensata (Thunb.) R.J.F.Hend.  
Dianella ensifolia (L.) DC.  
Dianella flabellata Hallier f.  
Dianella forsteri (Spreng.) Endl.  
Dianella humilis Lodd. ex Steud.  
Dianella ledermannii K.Krause  
Dianella mauritiana Blume  
Dianella montana Blume  
Dianella monticola K.Krause  
Dianella nemorosa Lam. [Illegitimate]  
Dianella obscura Kunth  
Dianella parviflora Zipp. ex Hallier f.  
Dianella parviflora Ridl.  
Dianella philippensis Perrier.  
Dianella pullei K,Krause  
Dianella robusta Elm.  
Dianella sparsiflora Schlittler [Illegitimate]  
Dianella straminea Yatabe  
Dracaena ensata Thunb.  
Dracaena ensifolia Linn.  
Dracaena nemorosa (Lam.) Steud.  
Eustrephus javanicus D.Dietr.  
Walleria paniculata Fritsch  
Dianella ensifolia (L.) DC. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Shan jian lan.
INDONESIAN: Jamaka, Jambaka, Labeh-labeh, Menuntil, Suliga, Tegar, Tengar, Rumput siak-siak.
HONG KONG: Sam gam lam.
JAPANESE: Kikyo-ran.
MALAYSIAN: Siak-siak, Siak-siak basya, Siak-siak jantan, Senjuang, Benjuang, Lenjuang benar.
THAI: Ya nu ton.
VIETNAMESE: Cay huong lau.

Species name derives from Latin: Diana, the Roman Sylvan goddess, ella meaning small stature, and ensifolia referring to the sword shaped leaves.

Sword leaf dianella is a perennial with stems 60 to 150 centimeters long. Leaves are grass-like, linear-lanceolate, 30 to 60 centimeters long, and 2 to 4 centimeters wide, growing from a branched and spreading rhizome. Inflorescence is 30 to 60 centimeters long. Flowers are white greenish or bluish, with the segments 6 to 8 millimeters long, and reflexed. Berries are ovoid and bluish.

- In light forests at low altitudes in Palawan, Panay, Jolo, Bucas Grande and Mindanao.
- Also occurs in India to the Mascarene Islands, in China, Taiwan, Malaya, in tropical Australia and in Polynesia.

- Benzenoids: Musizin (dianellidin), methyl 2,4-dihydroxt-3,5,6-trimethylbenzoate, methyl 2.4-dihydroxy-3,6-dimethylbenzoate, methyl 2,4-dihydroxy-6-methylbenzoate (methyl orsellinate), 2,4-dihydroxy-6-methoxy-3-methylacetophenone.
- Leaves yielded armandinol, a new dihydronaphtaquinone 2-hexyl-3-(2-hydroxyethyl)-2,3-dihydronaphtaquinone 1-4, together with two known quinones, chrysophanol (2) and isoeugenitol (3).   (8)
- Study of roots isolated two new favans, (2S)-2',4'-dihydroxy-7-methoxy-8-methylflavan (1) and (2S)-2'-hydroxy-4',7-dimethoxy-8-methylflavan (2). (see study below) (11)
- Study of roots isolated a new cycloartane-type triterpenoid, named 22-hydroxy-cyclolaudenol (1), together with two known cycloartane-type triterpenoids. (see study below) (12)

- Hard roots have a characteristic smell.
- Vermifuge, vulnerary, tonic.
- Studies suggest antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, tyrosinase inhibitory, anticancer properties.

Parts used
Rhizomes, roots, leaves.


- Poultices of roots applied to the abdomen as vermifuge.
- Used for dysentery.
- Roots used as postpartum tonic. Also used for leucorrhea and dysuria.
- Ashes of roots and leaves are ingredients in an ointment for herpes.
- Leaves used for poulticing wounds.
- In China, paste of plant applied to swellings.
- In Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, plant used for fatigue. In Indonesia, used for gastrointestinal infections, herpes, urogenital disorders, and skin infections. (5)
- In southern Thailand, roots used for kidney diseases. Preparations from whole plant used to relieve paralysis.
- In Indonesia, dried roots are chewed for deworming.
- Poultice of roots applied externally to the abdomen as vermifuge.
- Ashes of roots and leaves applied as ointment to treat boils, itches, herpetic sores and rheumatism.
- In Thailand, roots used for kidney diseases.
- Dry powdered rhizomes blended with vinegar applied locally for furunculosis and abscesses, lymphangitis, tuberculous lymphadenitis, tinea and traumatic injuries.
- In Malaysia, roots mixed with resin of Styrax and used as incense in healing and other rituals. (13)
- In Madagascar, roots used for abdominal pain. (14)
- Skin pigmentation: An ingredient in skin cream preparations as antioxidant and to reduce hyperpigmentation. Also used in skin whitening preparations.
- Poison: Reported use of roots as rat poison.
- Fumigant: Roots used for fumigation.
- Ceremonial Incense:
Used as incense in Torajanese funeral ceremonies in South Central Celebes.

Poison concerns
- Roots reportedly used as rat poison.
- Berries regard as poisonous, with reported symptoms of dizziness, hiccups, and difficulty breathing. (No studies found on toxicity or poisoning.(

Chemical Constituents / Roots:
Study of roots yielded musizin (dianellidin), methyl 2,4-dihydroxt-3,5,6-trimethylbenzoate, methyl 2.4-dihydroxy-3,6-dimethylbenzoate, methyl 2,4-dihydroxy-6-methylbenzoate (methyl orsellinate), 2,4-dihydroxy-6-methoxy-3-methylacetophenone. (1)
Antioxidant / Skin Discoloration Modification: Skin pigmentation has been linked to free radicals, and free radical scavengers and antioxidants can slow pigmentation. D. ensifolia extracts yielded 1-(2,4-dihydrophenyl)-3-(2,4-dimethoxy-3-methylphenyl) propane (DP), which was found to inhibited free radicals DPPH. Cosmetic formula containing DP produced an increase rate of pigmentation fading compared to two pharmaceuticals containing 4% hydroquinone (HQ). (3)
Anti-Inflammatory / Antibacterial: Study has shown anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities.
UP302 / Natural Antioxidant: Study isolated novel natural antioxidant, UP302, from Dianella ensifolia. (4)
Tyrosinase Inhibitor / UP302a and UP302b: Study of the whole reported a large-scale isolation of 1-(3-Methyl-2,4-dimethoxyphenyl)-3-(2′,4′-dihydroxyphenyl)-propane (UP302a) and 1-(3-methyl-2,4-dimethoxyphenyl)-3-(2′,5′-dihydroxyphenyl)-propane (UP302a). UP302a showed more with potent tyrosinase inhibition at 57%.
• Flavans / Cytotoxic Effects Against Cancer Cell Lines / Roots: Study of roots isolated two new favans, (2S)-2',4'-dihydroxy-7-methoxy-8-methylflavan (1) and (2S)-2'-hydroxy-4',7-dimethoxy-8-methylflavan (2). Compounds 1 ands 2 exhibited cytotoxic effects against cancer cell lines MDA--MB-231, B16-F10, HCT116, and A549. (11)
• Triterpenoid / Cytotoxic Against Cancer Lines / Roots: Study of roots isolated a new cycloartane-type triterpenoid, named 22-hydroxy-cyclolaudenol (1), together with two known cycloartane-type triterpenoids. Compound 1 showed cytotoxicity against cancer cell lines B16-F10, A549, and MDA-MB-231. (see constituents above) (12)

- Wild-crafted.
- Ingredient in skin care products for acne, skin lightening.

© Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D. / StuartXchange

Updated July 2018 / August 2014

IMAGE SOURCE: Français : Dianella ensifolia- Feuilles - Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve - Kuama Lumpur / File:Dianella ensifolia- Feuilles .JPG/ Patrice 78500 / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
OTHER VMAGE SOURCE: Fruit of Daniella ensifolia / File:Dianella ensifolia fruit.JPG / Cychk / GNU Free Documentaion License / Wikimedia Commons
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Illustration / :Dianella ensifolia / Illustrated Garden / Missouri Botanical Garden / Rare Books / Illustrated Garden

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Chemical constituents of Dianella ensifolia Redoute/ Vitchu Lojanapiwatha, Kovit Chancharoen et al / Jour Sci Soc Thailand 8 (1982)
Dianella ensifolia/ Vernacular names / GLOBinMED
Modification of skin discoloration by a topical treatment containing an extract of Dianella ensifolia: a potent antioxidant. / Mammone T, Muizzuddin N, Declercq L, Clio D, Corstjens H, Sente I, Van Rillaer K, Matsui M, Niki Y, Ichihashi M, Giacomoni PU, Yarosh D. / J Cosmet Dermatol. 2010 Jun;9(2):89-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1473-2165.2010.00491.x.
Quantification of a novel natural antioxidant (UP302) in rat plasma using ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry./ Zhang SQ, Zhu L, Wen N, Yu M, Shen YZ, Jia Q, Li ZG, Li B. / J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2011 Dec 1;879(31):3763-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jchromb.2011.10.002.
Medicinal Plants of China, Korea, and Japan: Bioresources for Tomorrow's / By Christophe Wiart / Google Books
Incense and ritual plant use in Southwest China: A case study among the Bai in Shaxi / Peter O Staub, Matthias S Geck and Caroline S Weckerle* / Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2011, 7:43
Dianella ensifolia / Synonyms / The Plant List

A new Dihydronaphtaquinone from Dianella ensifolia L. Redout / Rivoarison Randrianasolo, Armandine Raharinirina, Herilala Léa Rasoanaivo, Hans Christoph Krebs, Amélie Raharisolololao, Andrianambinina Andriamarolahy Razakarivony, Maonja Finaritra Rakotondramanga / Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry 2015; 3(6): pp 140-144
Dianella ensifolita / Useful Tropical Plants
Medicinal Plants of China, Korea, and Japan: Bioresources for Tomorrow’s ... / Christophe Wiart / Google Books
Two new flavans from the roots of Dianella ensifolia (L.) DC. / Tang BQ, Huang SS, Liang YE, Ma Y, Zeng B, Lee SM, Lu JL / Nat Prod Res., 2017 Jul; 31(13): pp 1561-1565 / doi: 10.1080/14786419.2017.1283501. 
A new cycloartane-type triterpenoid from the roots of Dianella ensifolia (L.) DC / Ben-qin Tang, Chu-Wen Li, Jian-Bo Sun, Yu Chang, Judy Yuet-Wa Chan, Simon Ming-Yuan Lee / Natural Product Research, 2016; Vol 31, Issue 8: pp 966-971 / https://doi.org/10.1080/14786419.2016.1258558
Traditional Knowledge and Usage of Medicinal Plants among the Semai Orang Asli at Kampung Batu 16, Tapah, Perak, Malaysia / Hean Chooi Ong, Elley Lina and Pozi Milow / Ethno Med, 2012; 6(3): pp 207-211
Ethnobotanical study of the medicinal plants known by men in Ambalabe, Madagascar / Rabearivony et al. / http://dx.doi.org/10.17348/era.14.0.123-138


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.

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