Curculigo orchioides Gaertn.

Last updated: 03 Aug 2016

Scientific Name

Curculigo orchioides Gaertn.


Curculigo brevifolia Dryand. ex W.T.Aiton, Curculigo firma Kotschy & Peyr., Curculigo malabarica Wight, Curculigo orchioides var. minor Benth., Curculigo pauciflora Zipp. ex Span., Curculigo petiolata Royle, Curculigo stans Labill., Franquenvillea major Zoll. ex Kurz, Gethyllis acaulis Blanco, Hypoxis dulcis Steud ex. Baker, Hypoxis minor Seem. [Illegitimate], Hypoxis orchioides (Gaertn.) Kurz. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Black musale [2]
China Xian mao [2]
India Atalami, atalmi, bhuyimaddi, charku, hemapuspi, hin-bin-tal, jamru-tipoi, kakadmatti, kali-moosli, kali musali, kali musli, kalumusali, kalimusli, kanmodi, kari-musali, karimusali, kavrakanda, kende turchi, khijuri, kizhangu, koorpandi, kovaa kaanda, kutra gulam, maniakanda, moosli, musali, musali-kand, musalikand, musli, mussulkund, nae-latadi-chettu, nealatadi-gadda, neelatadi-kelangu, nela pana kelangu, nela tadi, neladaali, neladali, nelandengu, nelapana kelangu, nelapanai, nelappana kizannu, nelatadi, nelatale, nelatadi, gaddalu, nelatatigadda, nelatengu, nelathadi gad-dalu, nellapana-kelangu, nilap-panaik, nelappa-naikelangu, nelappana, nilappanai, nilappanang-kilangu, ponnacheddi, ran musli, sadamusli, sareng jadu, tadakre, talamuli, talamu-lika, talmuli, tarmuli, thalomuli, turain [2]
Nepal Banjari, musali [2]
Indonesia Lampa’ pisa’, lempa’ [2]
Japan Kin-bai-zasa [2]
Okinawa Ninjin-kubagwo [2]
Papua New Guinea Tupa aui [2]
Australia Jool-lun, kom-mol, undora, uoba, yuara (Aboriginal names) [2].

Geographical Distributions

Curculigo orchioides occurs from the subtropical Himalayas of Pakistan and India, to Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, southern China, Taiwan, southern Japan, to Thailand and Malaysia (at least known with certainty from Java and the Philippines), and possibly also to northern and eastern Australia. The distribution in Malaysia is incompletely known. [3]

Botanical Description

C. orchioides is a perennial herb, belonging to the family Amaryllidaceae that can be found growing mostly on hilly slopes and wild places of central and western India. This plant can grow up to 50 cm tall, with vertical, more or less tuberous, and blackish rhizome. [3]

The leaves are arranged alternate, clustered and sessile on rhizome, narrowly lance-shaped, measuring 20- 30 cm x 1-2 cm, long-tapering at base into a pseudo-petiole which is sheath-like at its base, and also long-tapering at apex, plicate, sparsely hairy with long hairs or hairless and with few to several parallel veins. [3]

The inflorescence is axillary, inconspicuous among the leaf bases, spike-like, few-flowered or with a solitary flower, and with a very short scape or peduncle. The bracts are lance-shaped, long, measure 2-4 cm long, membranous, surpassing the peduncle and ovary. [3]

The flowers are long-hairy, where the lower ones in the inflorescence are bisexual while the upper ones are male. The perianth is with long slender tube, measures about 2-3 cm long (resembling a pedicel) and with 6 equal spreading lobes which are lance-shaped to elliptical, measure 5-8 mm long, few-veined, pale outside and bright yellow inside. There are 6 stamens that are inserted on the bases of perianth lobes, about half as long as perianth lobes, and with short filaments attached to the bases of the linear anthers. [3]

The ovary is inferior, 3-locular, with imperfect locules, short and thick style and with 3 stigmas. [3]

The fruit is berry-like, rather fleshy, ellipsoid, measures about 1.5 cm in diametre, surpassed by the bract, beaked by the persistent perianth tube and 1-4-seeded. [3]

The seeds are nearly globular to oblong, measure about 4 mm long, and with beak (elaiosome) lateral to hilum, with crustaceous testa, striate, black and shiny. [3]

The roots are fleshy, cylindrical, stouts with numerous side roots alongside the main tap root. [3]


C. orchioides occurs in open fields and grasslands. In Java, it grows on periodically very dry, sunny or slightly shaded localities in grasslands and teak forests up to 400 m altitude. In the Philippines, it is also found in grasslands, often dominated by Imperata.[3]

Chemical Constituent

The tubers of C. orchioides contain a glycoside yuccagenin, an alkaloid lycorine, flavones, and 3-methoxy, 5-Ac, 31-tritriacontane. [4]

A new orcinol glucoside, orcinol-1-O-β-D-apiofuranosyl-(16)-β-glucopyranoside, was isolated from the rhizomes of C. orchioides, together with seven known compounds: orcinol glucoside, orcinol-1-O-β-D-glucopyranosyl-(16)-β-D-glucopyranoside, curculigosides A-C, 2,6-dimethoxyl benzoic acid, and syringic acid. Among previously reported phytochemicals are curculigosaponins A-M, 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine, daucosterol, and aliphatic long-chain ketones. [5]

The rhizome of C. orchiodes also has been reported to contain two aliphatic compounds, 21-hydroxytetracontan-20-one and 4-methylheptadecanoic acid. [6]

Plant Part Used

Roots, rhizomes [3][7]

Traditional Use

A decoction of the powdered rhizomes is used in Chinese traditional medicine as a general tonic and analeptic in the treatment of decline (especially of physical strength). In the Philippines, Nepal and India, the rhizome is used as diuretic and aphrodisiac, and to cure skin diseases (externally), peptic ulcers, piles, gonorrhoea, leucorrhoea, asthma, jaundice, diarrhoea and headache. In Thailand, the rhizome is used as a diuretic and to treat diarrhoea. [3]

In Papua New Guinea, the rhizomes and leaves are softened by being heated over a fire, before being rubbed on the body to serve as a contraceptive. In China, additional reported indications include the treatment of lumbago, arthritis, chronic nephritis, hypertension and the use as an emmenagogue, and in India, C. orchioides is used to induce abortion. Powdered rhizomes are normally used in decoction, but are also sometimes given with an equal quantity of sugar in a glass of milk. It is reported that the rhizomes are also used to produce flour in India. [3]

The tubers are a well-known rejuvenative (rasayana) drug and an aphrodisiac. It is slightly bitter, viriligenic, diuretic and is useful in general debility, cough, piles, skin diseases, impotence, jaundice, urinary diseases, leucorrhea and menorrhagia. [4]

In the Philippines the root being given alone, or with carminative drugs in powder, being tonic, pectoral, diuretic and aphrodisiac. [7]

Preclinical Data


Anti-oxidative activity

Ethanol extract of C. orchioides which contained phenols and phenolic glycosides has been reported to exhibit anti-oxidative activity based on their scavenging effects on hydroxyl radicals produced by H2O2/Fe3+, and superoxide anion radicals produced by xanthin/xanthine oxidase systems. The results of the scavenging assays of hydroxyl radicals showed that compounds, orcinol-1-O-β-D-glucopyranosyl-(16)-β-D-glucopyranoside, curculigoside, and curculigoside C exhibited significant scavenging effects comparable to EGCG, with IC50values of 0.87, 0.54 and 0.25mM, respectively.    In the scavenging assay of superoxide anion radicals, only curculigoside C showed comparable effect with that of EGCG, with an IC50 value of 0.88mM. Hence, it can be concluded that the anti-oxidative activities of C. orchioides are partly attributed to these phenols and phenolic glycosides. [5]

Antioxidant activity

Methanol extract of rhizomes of C. orchioides was investigated to demonstrated antioxidant activity in carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-induced liver damage in experimental rats. The hepatotoxic group of rats received the methanol extract of C. orchioides daily at the effective dose of 70mg/kg body weight. The animals were maintained at laboratory conditions for 90 days. After an overnight fast on the 89th day, the animals were scarified and liver and blood samples collected for biochemical estimations. The high concentration of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) and diene conjugates (CD) in CCl4 –treated rats indicates excessive formation of free radicals and activation of lipid peroxidation (LPO) system resulting in liver damage. The significant decline in the concentration of these constituents in the liver tissue of CCl+MEC –administered rats indicates anti-lipid peroxidative effect of  Curculigo orchioides. The levels of glutathione (GSH) and antioxidant enzymes such as SOD, CAT, GPX, GRD showed decreased activities in CCl4–intoxicated rats whilst these constituents attained near normalcy in CCl4 +MEC-administered rats. It can be concluded that the methanol extract of rhizomes of C. orchioides exhibit a liver protective effect against CCl4 –induced hepatotoxicity and possessed anti-lipid peroxidative and anti-oxidant activities. [8]

Antihyperglycaemic activity

Crude ethanolic extract of powdered dried rhizomes of C. orchioides has been demonstrated antihyperglycaemic activity in normal, normoglycaemic and alloxan-induced diabetic rats compared to that of the effect of a standard antidiabetic agent Glimeperide. [9]

A similar study investigated the antidiabetic activity of C. orchioides root tuber. Both alcohol and aqueous extracts were tested on alloxan-induced diabetic rats. The study concluded that doses of 500 and 1000mg/kg b.w. of both extracts produced significant glucose lowering activity in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. [10]

Immunostimulatory activity

The methanolic extract of the dried rhizomes of C. orchioides was fractionated by maceration into five insoluble fractions (hexane, chloroform, ethyl acetate and n-butanol).  Repeated chromatography of ethyl acetate fraction over silica gel led to the isolation of Orcino-3-O-b-D-glucoside, Orchiside A and a purified glycoside fraction. The crude methanol and ethyl acetate extracts and the isolated glycosides and a purified glycoside-rich fraction were studied for their effect on microphage migration index (MMI), haemagglutination (HA) titre, plaque forming cell (PFC) response in an animal model (BALB/c mice). The active glycoside purified fraction was further studied for its effect on phagocytic activity of peritoneal macrophages, PHA-induced blast transformation of lymphocytes (BTL) and delayed type hypersensitivity (DTH) response to sheep BBC. The results of this study confirms the immunostimulant activity of C. orchioides and at the same time presents evidence for the presence of other substances besides the curculigosides, which induced stimulation of immune response in the treated animals. Significant immunostimulant activity was found in the purified glycoside-rich fraction isolated from the ethyl acetate extract. The enhancement of HA titre and PFC count in one hand and DTH response on the other, indicates glycoside stimulates both humoral and cell-mediated immune responses. The glycoside-rich fraction stimulates immune response by acting both on macrophages and the lymphocytes. [11]

The methanol extract of rhizomes of C. orchioides has been demonstrated immunostimulatory effect in immunosuppressed animals (Swiss albino mice).  Myelosuppression in the animals was induced by injecting cyclophosphamide  (30mg/kg, i.p), a cytotoxic drug.  Administration of the extract of rhizomes of C. orchioides was found to increase the total white cell count, which was lowered by cyclophosphamide, indicating stimulation of the bone marrow by the C. orchioides methanol extract. The high values of HA titre obtained in animals treated with C. orchioides indicate that immunostimulation was achieved through humoral immunity. The animals treated with the extract showed a significant increase in the DTH response indicating that C. orchioides possesses stimulatory effect on lymphocytes and on other necessary cell types required for the expression of the reaction. Based on these results, it can be concluded that C. orchioides is a potential immunostimulant against cytotoxic drugs and can be used as a complimentary therapeutic agent. [12]

Hepatoprotective activity

The methanolic extract of C. orchioides (MEC) rhizomes has been evaluate to exhibit hepatoprotective effect in Sprague-Dawley albino rats treated with carbon tetrachloride (CCl4). Liver damage was studied in hepatotoxic rats by assessing the marker enzymes such as AST, ALT, ALP, GGT in serum as well as concentrations of total proteins, total lipids, phospholipids, triglycerides and cholesterol in both serum and the liver. The animals were divided into 3 groups vis. Group I (control), Group II (received CClalone) and Group III (received both CCl+ MEC). Animals of Group III showed a significant increase in body weight, and food consumption and the values were significantly higher than Group I rats. This suggested that MEC has significantly neutralised the toxic effect of CCland helped regenerate the hepatocytes. The concentration of the serum marker enzymes in Group III rats showed near normal level compared to the enhanced enzyme activities in Group II rats, showing a clear manifestation of anti-hepatotoxic effect of MEC. [13]

Aphrodisiac activity

The ethanolic extract of the rhizomes of C. orchioides was evaluated for its effect on sexual behaviour in male rats. Administration of 100mg/kg of extract change significantly the sexual behaviour as assessed by determining parameters such as penile erection, mating performance, mount frequency and mount latency. The ethanolic extract has also accelerated the process of spermatogenesis by increasing the sperm count and accessory sex organ weights. The treatment also markedly affected sexual behaviour of animals as reflected in reduction of mount latency, an increase in mount frequency and enhanced attract ability towards female. The present investigation of C. orchioides established some evidence to support the folklore claim that it is used as an aphrodisiac. [14]

Estrogenic activity

A comparative study between the alcoholic extract of the rhizomes of C. orchioides with diethylstilbesterol was conducted in bilaterally ovariectomised young albino rats. The bilaterally ovariectomised albino rats were divided into 5 groups, each group receiving different treatment including ethanolic extract of rhizomes of C. orchioides at 3 different doses (300, 600, 1200mg/kg body weight) and standard drug diethylstilbesterol  at a dose of 2 mg/kg body weight. The parameters of assessment for estrogenic activity were assessed by taking percentage vaginal cornification, uterine wet weight, uterine glycogen content and uterine histology. The result of the study exhibited a significant increase in percentage vaginal cornification, uterine wet weight (P<0.001), uterine glycogen content (P<0.001) and proliferative changes in uterine endometrium compared to the control. [15]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing



Figure 1: The line drawing of C. orchioides [3]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Curculigo orchioides Gaertn. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Aug 03]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U.  CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume II C-D. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 539-540.
  3. Lemmens RHMJ, Horsten SFAJ. Curculigo orchioides Gaertner In: de Padua LS, Bunyapraphatsara N, Lemmens RHMJ, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(1): Medicinal and poisonous plants 1. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 1999; p. 207-210.
  4. Daniel M. Medicinal plants: Chemistry and properties. New Hampshire, USA: Science Publishers, 2006; p. 126.
  5. Wu Q, Fu DX, Hou AJ, et al. Antioxidative phenols and phenolic glycosides from Curculigo orchioides. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2005;53(8):1065-1067.
  6. Triguna NM, Ram SS, Deonath MT. Aliphatic compounds from Curculigo orchioides rhizomes. Phytochem. 1984;23(10):2369-2371.
  7. Burkill IH. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Volume 1. London: Published on behalf of the governments of the Straits settlements and Federated Malay states by the Crown agents for the colonies, 1935; p. 703.
  8. Venukumar MR, Latha MS. Antioxidant activity of Curculigo orchioides in carbon tetrachrride-induce hepatopathy in rats. Indian J Clin Biochem. 2002;17(2):80-87.
  9. Chauhan NS, Dixit VK. Antihyperglycaemic activity of the ethanolic extract of Curculigo orchioides Gaertn. Phcog. Mag. 2007;3:237-40.
  10. Madhavan V, Joshi R, Murali A, Yoganarasimhan SN. Antidiabetic activity of Curculigo orchioides root tuber. Pharma Biol. 2007;45(1):18-21.
  11. Lakshmi V, PAndey K, Puri A, Saxena RP, Saxena KC. Immunostimulant principles from Curculigo orchioides. J Ethnopharmacol. 2003;89(2-3):181-184.
  12. Bafna AR, Mishra SH. Immunostimulatory effect of emtahnol extract of Curculigo orchioides on immunosuppressed mice. J Ethnapharmacol. 2006;104(1-2):1-4.
  1. Venukumar MR, Latha MS. Hepatoprotective effect of the methanolic extract of Curculigo orchioides in CCl4-treated male rats. Indian J Pharmacol. 2002;34: 269-75.
  2. Chauhan NS, Rao ChV, Dixit VK. Effect of Curculigo orchioides rhizomes on sexual behaviour of male rats. Fitoterapia. 2007;78:530-534.
  3. Vijayanarayana K, Rodrigues RS, Chandrashekhar KS, Subrahmanyam EV. Evaluation of estrogenic activity of alcoholic extract of rhizomes of Curculigo orchioides. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007;114(2):241-245.