Barringtonia asiatica (L.) Kurz

Last updated: 17 June 2016

Scientific Name

Barringtonia asiatica (L.) Kurz


Agasta asiatica (L.) Miers, Agasta indica Miers, Agasta splendida Miers, Barringtonia butonica J.R.Forst. & G.Forst., Barringtonia levequii Jard. [Invalid], Barringtonia littorea Oken [Illegitimate], Barringtonia senequei Jard., Barringtonia speciosa J.R.Forst. & G.Forst., Butonica speciosa (J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.) Lam., Huttum speciosum (J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.) Britten, Michelia asiatica (L.) Kuntze, Mitrari commersonia J.F.Gmel. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Putat laut, butong, putat ayer (Peninsular) [2]; butun, pertun, putat [3], putat gajah, putat air, butong butun [4]
English Sea putat [2], box fruit, fish-killer tree, fish poison tree, sea poison tree, sea putat, queen of the shores, shaving brush tree [3], barringtonia, butong, butun, langasat, lugo, motong-botong, pertun, putat laut, vuton [4]
China Bin yu rui [3], mo pan jiao shu [4]
India Camuttira, camuttirappalam, cemmulli, cingola, cotanlankay, hu-ah, katanmulli, katarkani, kinyav, kiruttica-kiyam, samudraphala [3]
Indonesia Butun (Javanese, Sundanese); bitung (Northern Sulawesi); keben-keben (Balinese) [2][4]
Thailand Chik ta lae, don ta lae (Peninsular) [2]; chik le, chik ta lae, don ta lae, chik an, chik nam [3]
Myanmar Kyi-git [2][3]
Japan Goban-no-ashi [3]
Taiwan Yin du yu rui [4]
Papua New Guinea Maliou (Plitty, Manus Province) [2]; mbrut, mwanumbu, puc, putu [3]
Hawaii Barringtonia, hotu, hutu [3]
Madagascar Fotabe [3]
Comoros Mpembeya [3]
Russia Barringtonia aziatskaia, barringtonia prekrasnaia [4].

Geographical Distributions

Barringtonia asiatica is distributed from Madagascar to Sri Lanka, India, Burma (Myanmar), Indo-China, the Andaman Islands, Thailand, throughout the Malesian region towards northern Australia and into the Pacific, east to Samoa and the Society Islands (Tahiti); also planted within this region and introduced into East Africa, Hawaii, and the West Indies. [2]

Botanical Description

B. asiatica is a member of the Lecythidaceae family. It is a tree which can reach up to 7-20(-30) m tall. Its trunk measures 25-100 cm in diametre while the twigs measure 6-10 mm in diametre and with large leaf scars. [2]

The leaves are obovate or obovate-oblong, measuring (15-)20-38(-52) cm x (7-)10-18(-21) cm, with wedge-shaped base, emarginate to mucronate at apex, with entire, distinct marginal vein, hairless and with very short petiole. [2]

The raceme is terminal, rarely axillary, erect, measures 2-15(-20) cm long and (3-)7(-20)-flowered while the pedicel is 4-8 cm long where the opening buds are 2-4 cm long. The sepal tube is about 3 mm long, not accrescent, rupturing in 2 unequal segments and green while the 4 elliptical petals are convex, measuring 5-9 cm x 2-5 cm and white. The stamens are in 6 whorls, measure (8-)12(-15) cm long, white at the base and reddish at the apex. The ovary is 4(-5)-celled, with style 9-14 cm long, white at base, reddish at apex and it is accrescent to 15 cm. [2]

The berry is ovate, measuring 8.5-11 cm x 8.5-10 cm, tapers to the apex, sharply tetragonous at the emarginate base, and layered with a thin exocarp with glandular dots and a shining cuticle. The mesocarp measures 2-2.5 cm thick and spongy while the endocarp is a thick layer of longitudinal anastomosing fibres between 2 thin membranes. The oblong seed measures 4-5 cm x 2.5-4 cm, subtetragonous and it tapers to the emarginate apex. [2]


B. asiatica is an almost exclusively littoral species, in some localities, trees may grow further inland on calcareous hills or cliffs, generally growing on sandy beaches or coral sand flats, along rivers or in mangrove swamps at sea level, occasionally up to 350 m altitude. [2]

Chemical Constituent

B. asiatica  fruits has been reported to contain 19-epi-bartogenic acid, anhydrobartogenic, and bartogenic acid while the seeds has been reported to contain hydrocyanic acid, barringtonin, berringtogenetin, and A1-barrinin. [5]

B. asiatica  has been reported to contain 3-O-{[β-D-galactopyranosyl (1→3)-β-D-glucopyranosyl(1→2)]-b-D-glucuronopyranosyloxy}-22-O-[2-methylbutyroyloxy]- 15,16,28-trihydroxy-(3β, 15α, 16α, 22α)-olean-12-ene, (3β,11α)-11-hydroxyolean-12-en-3-yl palmitate, (3β)-olean-12-en-3-yl palmitate, (3β)-urs-12-en-3-yl palmitate, (3β)-olean-18-en-3-yl palmitate, 22-O-tigloylcamelliagenin A, acutangulic acid, α-amyrin, α-amyrin, β-sitosterol, barringtogenol B, barringtogenol C, barringtogenol D, barringtogenol E, barringtogenol C monobenzoate, barringtogentin, barringtonic acid, barrinic acid, betulinic acid, camelliagenone, dimethyl barringtogenate, ellagitannins, garringtogenin, germanicol, germanicol caffeoyl ester, germanicol trans-coumaroyl ester, methyl barringtogenol, methyl acutagenate, oleanolic acid, stigmasterol, tanginol, tangulic acid, verimol k [6][7][8][9], A1-barrinin, ranuncoside VIII, and A1-barrigenin [10].

Methanol extract of B. asiatica  seeds has been reported to contain saponins (e.g. 3-O-[[beta-D-galactopyranosyl(1-->3)-beta-D-glucopyranosyl(1-->2)]-beta-D-glucuronopyranosyloxy]-22-O-[2(E)-methyl-2-butenyloyloxy]-15,16,28-trihydroxy-(3beta,15alpha,16alpha,22alpha)-olean-12-ene and 3-O-[[beta-D-galactopyranosyl(1-->3)-beta-D-glucopyranosyl(1-->2)]-beta-D-glucuronopyranosyloxy]-22-O-(2-methylbutyroyloxy)-15,16,28-trihydroxy-(3beta,15alpha,16alpha,22alpha)-olean-12-ene). [4]

Plant Part Used

Barks, leaves and fruits. [10][10]

Traditional Use

Throughout its distribution, B. asiatica has been used by the native population to treat a number of diseases. Amongst the common uses of this plant is to treat fungal infections, burns and wounds. In the Philippines, the heated B. asiatica leaves are used to treat stomachache and rheumatism by locally applying it over the affected regions [10].  A decoction of the leaves is used by the Fijians to treat hernia [11]. The Pacific Islanders treat inflammation of the ear and headache by using the leaves of B. asiatica [12].

The fruit of B. asiatica is poisonous to fish, and the juice is used to control scabies. The seeds are anthelmintic and piscicide. They are also used to treat sores, cough, influenza, sorethroat, diarrhoea and swollen spleen after malaria. In Vietnam, the fresh nut is scraped and scrapings are applied on sores. The dried nut is ground into powder and mixed with water and drunk to cure coughs, influenza, soer throat, bronchitis, diarrhoea and swollen spleen [11]. The seeds are used in treatment of abdominal colic both externally and taken orally. It is the ash of the seed mixed with water together with other ingredients that is being used. It is also used to treat worm infestations. The juice of the fruit is used to treat parasitic skin problems [13].

The bark is used to treat tuberculosis. In Sudan, the inner bark is crushed and mixed with water and taken to ease aching associated with malaria. It is also used in combination with other plants as a medicine to treat tuberculosis in New Ireland and the Solomon Islands [10]. The decoction of the bark is used to treat constipation and epilepsy. Other, the juice of the bark is given for chest pains or for vomiting from heart trouble [11]. The sap from the bark has been used for treating ciguatera poisoning, coughs, and urinary infections, and the red-leafed form is used as a contraceptive and for abortion [12].

Preclinical Data


Antimicrobial activity

In a screening for antimicrobial activity of selected Hawaiian plants, it was found that B. asiatica extract showed some antifungal activity [14]. In another screening activity various extracts (methanol, hexane and dichloromethane) of the dried leaves are active against Mycobacterium tuberculosis at 200 mg/mL [15]. The crude methanol extracts of various parts (leaves, fruits, seeds, stem and root barks) of the tree and its fractions (petrol, dichloromethane, ethylacetate, butanol) showed good level of broad spectrum antibacterial and antifungal activity [10]. Several compounds isolated from various parts of the plant showed antifungal activity against Candida albicans, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus [6].

Cytotoxic activity

The crude extract of the B. asiatica seeds exhibited high biological activity in brine shrimp hatchability and lethality assays that could be used to treat cancer or tumour. [17]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of B. asiatica [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Barringtonia asiatica (L.) Kurz [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Jun 17]. Available from:
  2. Yaplito MA. Barringtonia asiatica (L.) Kurz In: van Valkenburg JLCH, Bunyapraphatsara N, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publishers, 2001; p. 104-105.
  3. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume I A-B. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 540-541.
  4. Lim TK. Edible medicinal and non-medicinal plants. Volume 3, fruits. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer, 2012; p. 101-103
  5. Daniel M. Medicinal plants: Chemistry and properties. Enfield, New Hampshire: Science Publishers, 2006; p. 182.
  6. Ragasa CY, Espineli DL, Shen CC. New triterpenes from Barringtonia asiatica. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2011;59(6):778-782.
  7. Rumampuk RJ, Pongoh EJ, Tarigan P, Herlt AJ, Mander LN. A triterpene ester saponin from the seed of Barringtonia asiatica. Indones J Chem. 2003;3(3):149–155.
  8. Herlt AJ, Mander LN, Pongoh E, Rumampuk RJ, Tarigan P. Two major saponins from seeds of Barringtonia asiatica: putative antifeedants toward Epilachna sp. larvae. J Nat Prod. 2002 Feb; 65(2): 115-120.
  9. Robert AB,Steven GW, Noel LO. Elucidation of a new oleanane glycoside from Barringtonia asiatica.  ARKIVOC. 2003 (13): 137–146.
  10. Koh HL, Kian CT, Tan KH. A guide to medicinal plants: An illustrated, scientific and medicinal approach. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd, 2009; p. 24–25.
  11. Cambie RC, Ash J. Fijian Medicinal Plants. New Zealand: Csiro Publishing, 1994; p. 37.
  12. Elevitch CR, editor. Traditional trees of Pacific Islands: Their culture, environment, and use. Holualoa, Hawaii: Permanent Agriculture Resources, 2006; p. 166.
  13. Ong HC. Tumbuhan Liar: Khasiat ubatan & kegunaan lain. Kuala Lumpur: Utusan Publications and Distritbutors Sdn. Bhd., 2008; p. 163.
  14. Locher CP, Burch MT, Mower HF, et al. Anti-microbial activity and anti-complement activity of extracts obtained from selected Hawaiian medicinal plants. J Ethnopharmacol. 1995 Nov 17; 49(1):23-32.
  15. Suchada C, Ariya C, Prasart K. Anticancer and antituberculous activities of Barringtonia. LEAF 37th Congress on Science and Technology of Thailand.
  16. Khan MR, Omoloso AD. Antibacterial, antifungal activities of Barringtonia asiatica. Fitoterapia. 2002 Jun; 73(3):255-260.
  17. Elmer Rico EM, Jose Rene LM. Bioactivity study of Barringtonia asiatica (Linnaeus) Kurz. seed aqueous extract in Artemia salina. Int J Bot. 2007;3(3):325–328.