Bryophyllum pinnatum (Lam.) Oken

Last updated: 21 Feb 2017

Scientific Name

Bryophyllum pinnatum (Lam.) Oken


Bryophyllum calycinum Salisb., Bryophyllum germinans Blanco, Cotyledon calycina Roth, Cotyledon calyculata Sol. ex Sims, Cotyledon calyculata Solander, Cotyledon pinnata Lam., Cotyledon rhizophylla Roxb., Crassula pinnata (Lam.) L.f., Crassuvia floripendia Comm. ex Lam., Crassuvia floripenula Comm., Kalanchoe brevicalyx (Raym.-Hamet & H. Perrier) Boiteau, Kalanchoe calcicola (H. Perrier) Boiteau, Sedum madagascariense Clus., Vereia pinnata (Lam.) Spreng. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Rajah bangun, sedingin, seringin, setawar padang [2]
English Air plant, clapper bush, green love, leaf of life, life plant, miracle leaf, never die, resurrection plant, tree of life, wonder of the world [2]
China Lao di sheng gen [2]
India Airaavati, basam gatch, basum gatch, bish khapru, dupar tenga, duportenga, hanuman thaba, kppata, manahidak, parnabija, patharkuchi, zakhm-e-hayaat [2]
Indonesia Buntiris, daun sejuk, sosor bebek, taban sakit ulu [2]
Thailand Benchachat, khuwum taai ngaai pen, ton tai bai pen [2]
Laos Poun po, poun tay [2]
Myanmar Yoekiyapinba [2]
Philippines Abisrana, karitana, katakataka [2]
Vietnam C[aa]y thu[oos]c b[or]ng, c[aa]y tr[uw][owf]ng sinh, l[aj]c d[ij]a sinh c[aw]n [2]
Madagascar Sodifafagna [2]
Papua New Guinea Ine renge idu ndronndon, maguliwai, moiatiti, Solomon [2]
Africa Afia-ayo, nkwonkwu [2]
Mauritius Soudefafe [2].

Geographical Distributions

Bryophyllum pinnatum has a pantropical distribution. In Malesia it is naturalised throughout the region. In many places it is a weed; on the other hand it is reported to be cultivated in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indo-China. [3]

Botanical Description

B. pinnatum comes from the family of Crassulaceae. This plant is a smooth, robust and unbranched herb that can grow 30-200 cm tall. [3]

The leaves are fleshy and leathery when older. The younger ones have simple arrangement, egg-shaped with cordate or rounded base while the upper ones is pinnate with 3-5 leaflets that are sized at 5-9(-20) cm x 2.5-5 cm. Its base is wedge-shaped while the apex is blunt. The margin is notched with blunt or rounded teeth. Inflorescence is a lax terminal cyme, 10-80 cm long. [3]

The flowers are pendulous, with a cylindrical sepal up to 25 mm x 8 mm. Sepal is slightly indented at the base with the lobes ovate-triangular, very acutely acuminate, 7-12 mm long. The 30 mm long petal tube is cylindrical which is strongly constricted at about 8 mm from the base. The petal lobes are oblong-egg-shaped, about 6 mm long and abruptly long acuminate. They are green in the lower half and red in the upper half. [3]


B. pinnatum is found in dry rather sunny locations near human habitation up to 1000 m altitude. [3]

Chemical Constituent

The isolation from B. pinnatum leaves has been recorded to contain astragalin, 3,8-dimethoxy-4,5,7 trihydroxyflavone, friedelin, epigallocatechin-3-o-syringate, luteolin, utin, kaempferol [4], quercetin-3L-rhamonsido-L-arabino furanoside [5], kaempferol-3-O-α-L-arabinopyranosyl (1→2)α-L-rhamnopyranoside [6]. B. pinnatum is rich in alkaloids, triterpenes, glycosides, flavonoids, cardenolides, α-amyrin, α-amyrinacetate, β-amyrin, β-amyrinacetate, bryophollenone, taaxerol, pseudo taraxasterol, 18-α-oleanane, friedelin, glutinol, cardienolide, β-sitosterol, bryophyllol, bryophynol, bryophillin A and B [4].

Quercetin , quercetin-3L-rhamonsido-L-arabino furanoside, quercetin-3-O-diarabinoside, kaempferol, kaempferol-3-glucoside, kaempferol-3- O-α-L-arabinopyranosyl(1,2)α -L-rhamno pyranoside, quercetin-3-O-α-L-arabino pyranosyl (1,2)α -L-rhamno pyranoside, syringic acid, luteolin, rutin, bufadienolides, bryophyllol, bryophynol, bryophyllin derivatives, bersaldegenin-3-acetate , bryotoxin A, bryotoxin B, sitosterol, anthocyanins, malic acid, quinines, tocopherol, lectins and coumarins [7]

Plant Part Used

Leaves and root. [4]

Traditional Use

B. pinnatum is traditionally used as remedy for treatment of headache, high blood pressure, kidney and prostate problems, and gastrointestinal disease such as diarrhoea and dysentery. Most communities considered B. pinnatum as disinfectant and antibacterial. This is evidenced by its wide use in the treatment of inflammatory conditions such as eye infection, sore throat, abscesses, insect bites and infected wounds. [8][9][10][11][12][13]

The heated leaves are placed over boils to hasten the process of suppuration and natural drainage. The juice expressed from fresh leaves mixed with shea butter is applied over abscesses, swellings, ulcers and burns. The expressed juice can be dropped into the ear or eye to treat inflammatory conditions of these organs [8][9][10][11][12][13]. The leaves of B. pinnatum B. pinnatum is used for headache by applying the crushed leaves on the forehead. It is also commonly used as a remedy for cough, pain and fever. The leaves may be pounded in water and the infusion is taken as a drink for feveror shivering fits. It is also used for skin complaints.[14] In Guyana (area in northern South America) the juice from leaves is mixed with a pinch of salt and given orally for these two conditions. In Jamaica, a cough mixture is prepared from the juice of warmed leaves mixed with honey and lime which is thickened by heating and given to soothe throat and boost the immune system. [8][12]

Besides, B. pinnatum leaves have been advocated for use in the control of diabetes, remedy for tuberculosis, haemorrhoids, irregular menstruation, haemoptysis, haematemesis, and bleeding wounds [9][13][15]. Malays used the leaves to treat haematemesis [15]. In India the leaves are mixed with Aegle marmelos to treat bloody and amoebic dysentery [8]. Guyana people relieved the pain from hernia by strapping the whole leaves of B. pinnatum together with leaves of wild tobacco (Lisianthius grandiflorus) at the bulge area [11].

In Nigeria, the leaves, roots and leaf sap have been used as a sedative, anticancer, and remedy to epilepsy and dysentery. [8]

Preclinical Data


Neurosedative activity

Two studies on rats and mice showed that the extracts of B. pinnatum leaves have depressive effects on the central nervous system. Both the methanolic fraction and saline leaves extract produced an alteration of behaviour pattern, potentiate pentobarbitone sleeping time and significant analgesic activity. There was also reduction in exploratory behaviour and loss of residual curiosity. Additionally, in the saline leaf extract it was observed that there was muscle incoordination and delayed onset of convulsion in both strychnine and picrotoxin-induced seizures. [16][17]

Antimicrobial acitivity

Methanol extract of B. pinnatum leaves (512 mg/mL) showed greater antibacterial activity towards Gram-positive organisms when tested among different extracts including traditional methods. The comparison with control ciprofloxacin (cip) for agar plate antimicrobial inhibition zones showed marked antibacterial activities of Staphylococcus aureus control stain (21 mm; cip 20 mm), Enterococcus faecalis (18 mm; cip 14 mm), Bacillus subtilis (23 mm; cip 24 mm) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (17 mm; cip 27 mm). The extract exhibited Minimum Bactericidal Concentration (MBC) of 128 mg/mL, 256 mg/mL, 128 mg/mL, and 512 mg/mL, respectively while the Minimum Inhibitory Concentration (MIC) for P. aeruginosa is 64 mg/mL and 32 mg/mL for all other mentioned strains including S. aureus. [18]

Methanol extract (60 %) of B. pinnatum leaves (25 mg/mL) showed bacterial inhibition against B. subtilis (NCIB 3610) (Zone of inhibition: 14.5 mm, Streptomycin: 23.5 mm; MIC: 4.38 mg/mL), Escherichia coli (NCIB 86) (Inhibition: 15.0 mm, Streptomycin: 0 mm; MIC: 2.19 mg/mL), Proteus vulgaris (NCIB 67) (Inhibition: 13.4 mm, Streptomycin: 30.0 mm; MIC: 2.19 mg/mL),   Shigella dysenteriae (LIO) (Inhibition: 16.8 mm, Streptomycin: 22.8 mm; MIC: 2.19 mg/mL), and Staphylococcus aureus (NCIB 8588) (Inhibition: 13.5 mm, Streptomycin: 21.4 mm; MIC: 4.38 mg/mL). [19]

Another study showed that the 5% v/v extract from the leaves of B. pinnatum exhibited bactericidal activity against the following Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria: B. subtilis, S. aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, Streptococcus faecalis, E. coli, Proteus spp., Klebsiella spp., Shigella spp., Salmonella spp., Serratia marcescens and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. [20]

Antiviral effect of the quercetin compound

Animal study which tested on four different bioflavanoid compounds against dengue virus type-2 (DENV-2) showed that only quercetin showed significant anti dengue virus type-2 inhibitory activity at 35.75 µg/mL and reduced DENV-2 RNA levels by 67% in the presence of 50µg/mL of quercetin using Foci Forming Unit Reduction Assay [21]

In vitro study showed methanol extracts of Kalanchoe pinnata (synonym of Bryophyllum pinnatum) leaves (17.2µg/mL) on Huh7it-1 cells from human hepatocellular carcinoma cells which was infected with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) had 50% of inhibitory concentration of HCV [22]

The mechanism of quercetin lies in its ability to interfere with NS5A/HSP complex and inhibition of HSP70 expression thus inhibits the viral proliferation [23]

Antiulcer activity

Methanol extract of B. pinnatum leaves has significant antiulcer activity in in nine different experimental animal models (rats and guinea pigs). The significant protection was seen in aspirin-induced ulcer in pylorus-ligated rats and for histamine-induced duodenal ulcers in guinea pigs. The enhancement of healing process was also found in acetic acid-induced gastric lesions in rats. [24]

Antinociceptive and anti-inflammatorry activity

Aqueous extract of B. pinnatum leaves were subjected to antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory studies. The study showed that the extract (25-800 mg/kg) produced significant (p < 0.05-0.001) antinociceptive effects against thermally- and chemically-induced nociceptive pain stimuli in mice. Besides, it was found that this extract also showed anti-inflammatory properties comparable to diclofenac. This is attributed to the presence of different flavonoids, polyphenols and triterpenoids isolated from the leaves. [25]

Antiurolithic activity

Ethanol extract of B. pinnatum (1, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 80, and 100 mg/mL) was found to have the ability to increase the crystallization process and reduce the size of calcium oxalate monohydrate crystals in sodium oxalate solution-induced crystallization in urine sample in a dose dependent manner. The complete dissolution of the crystals was significantly (p < 0.05) attained at a dose of 100 mg/mL. It also promote the formation of calcium oxalate dehydrate which is less damaging. [26]

Tocolytic activity

The juice of B. pinnatum leaves was found to be able to inhibit human myometral cell contraction induced by oxytocin. The juice was able to prevent oxytocin-induced increase in Ca2+ and delay the depolarization-induced increase in Ca2+ in SH-SY5Y cells. It is evident that the juice has specific and concentration-dependent effect on the oxytocin signalling pathway. Further investigation proved that this action is probably due to the presence of bufadienolids, flavonoids and cinnamic acids. [27][28]

Liver protective

In the liver, the dengue virus might affect the sinusoidal endothelial or Kupffer cells and therefore causing obstruction to the hepatic sinusoidal capillary lumen resulting in decreased portal venous blood velocity and flow to the liver which cause irreversible damage [29].

Animal study showed leaf juice of Kalanchoe pinnata (synonym of Bryophyllum pinnatum) was effective as liver protectant as evident from the in vivo, in vitro and histopathological studies on the rat hepatocytes and able to decrease the elevated level of serum bilirubin [30].



While there has not been any reported case of poisoning due to B. pinnatum in humans, there are two published papers on poisoning in cattle in Australia during the flowering season of the plant (May to October). Results from natural cases and experiments with cattle showed that flowering plants from Bryophyllum (Kalanchoe) spp including B. pinnatum contributed to poisoning in Australia. Queensland recorded 41 poisoning cases affecting 379 cattle in 1960 to 1984. Another case revealed two adult cattle died within 48 h of being fed a large amount of B. pinnatum plants collected from a house garden. Signs such as hypersalivation, ataxia, severe cardiac arrhythmia and laboured respiration became clinically apparent the day after feeding. [31][32]

These toxic effects also showed in rabbits when a study on the antihypertensive activity of the leaf extract was conducted. The result showed that at the highest dose of 300 mg/kg/day, all the animals in this group were found dead on the 4th day of initiating treatment. This is might be due to the alteration in the structure of liver and kidney of the animal caused by many ordinary foods that contain poisonous constituents. There was evidence of hepatotoxicity, nephrotoxicity and cardiotoxicity in the animals receiving 150 mg/kg body weight and 300 mg/kg body weight. [33]

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

Tocolytic Activity

A clinical trial was done to characterize the phytotherapeutic tocolytic of B. pinnatum among 14 women. It was found that the extract was able to inhibit spontaneous contraction in a dose dependent manner i.e. 16% at maximum concentration of 10 mg/L; increased contraction frequency by 91% at constant amplitude and inhibited oxytocin-stimulated contractions by 20% at constant amplitude with slightly decrease frequency. [34]

Another study to assess the tolerability and tocolytic outcome between the extract of B. pinnatum and β-agonists given intravenously was found that the extract was better tolerated than the β-agonist but no significant differences in their efficacy. [35]


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of B. pinnatum [3]


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