Desmos chinensis Lour.

Last updated: 17 Aug 2016

Scientific Name

Desmos chinensis Lour.


Artabotrys esquirolli H.Lév., Desmos chinensis var. brevifolius (Teihsm. & Binn. ex Boerl.) Bân, Desmos chinensis var. lawii (Hook.f. & Thomson) Bân, Desmos chinensis var. macropetalus (Teijsm. & Binn. ex Boerl.) Bân, Desmos lawii (Hook.f. & Thomson) Saff., Unona amherstiana Wall. ex A.DC., Unona biglandulosa Blume, Unona chinensis (Lour.) DC., Unona discolor Vahl, Unona discolor var. angustipetala Boerl., Unona discolor var. bracteata Blume, Unona discolor var. brevifolia Teijsm. & Binn. ex Boerl., Unona discolor var. laevigata Hook.f. & Thomson, Unona discolor var. latifolia Hook.f. & Thomson, Unona discolor var. macropetala Teijsm. & Binn. ex Boerl., Unona discolor var. neglecta Boerl., Unona discolor var. parviflora Miq., Unona discolor var. pubescens Hook.f. & Thomson, Unona discolor var. pubiflora Hook.f. & Thomson, Unona discolor var. siamensis Scheff. ex Boerl., Unona laevigata Wall. [Invalid], Unona lessertiana Dunal, Unona monilifera (Gaertn.) DC., Unona roxburghiana Wall. [Invalid], Unona undulata Wall. [Illegitimate], Uvaria amherstiana (Wall. ex A.DC.) Walp., Uvaria cordifolia Roxb., Uvaria discolor (Vahl) Walp., Uvaria monilifera Gaertn., Uvaria undulata Roxb. [Invalid], Uvaria undulata Walp. [Illegitimate], Waria zaylanica Aubl. [Unresolved]. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Pagar anak, tepang, [2] kenanga hutan, akar darah, akar mariam, [3] akar pisang, pepisang, merpisang, pisang-pisang buku, akar sugi-sugi, akar sesugi, akar singga, sekenchong, sempoh barok, jari ayam [4]
China Jia ying zhua [2]
India Zun-in-domdowi [2]
Thailand Sai yut [4].

Geographical Distributions

Desmos chinensis is a liana that has been found in Southern China and southwards throughout Malaysia. This species is very common in Peninsular Malaysia as a shrub usually in the open countries, thickets and wood borders. [4]

Botanical Description

D. chinensis is a shrub of the Annonaceae family. It is a climber with straggling branches that can reach height up to 4 m tall. [5]

The branches are stout, sparsely hairy when young, with raised greyish white lenticels. [5]

The petiole is 3-8 mm length; leaf blade is oblong to elliptic, rarely broadly ovate, 6-14 x 2-6.5 cm, membranous to thinly papery, abaxially glaucous and sparsely appressed hairy, adaxially glossy, secondary veins 7-12 on each side of mid vein, base rounded to slightly oblique, apex acute to acuminate. [5]

The inflorescences are superaxillary or leaf-opposed, 1-flowered. [5]

The flowers are 3-6 cm wide, pendulous. Pedicel 2-6.5 cm. Sepals ovate to lanceolate, 4-10 x 2-4.5 mm. Outer petals oblong to oblong-lanceolate, 3-6.5 x 1-2 cm; inner petals lanceolate, 4-7 x 1-2 cm. Stamen connectives apically truncate to rounded. The carpels are 25-35; stigmas clavate, apex 2-cleft. [5]

Fruiting pedicel is measure of 2-6 cm length; monocarp stipes 4-14 mm; monocarps ellipsoid or moniliform, 0.8-6 cm x 4-6 mm, with 2-6 joints; joints yellowish brown, subglobose, ca. 7 x 6 mm, sparsely hairy, apex of terminal obtuse to shortly rostrate. [5]


D. chinensis occurs in open locations and borders of lowland forest. It is also found in living fences and brushwood, up to 1500 m altitude.[5]

Chemical Constituent

D. chinensis seed has been reported to contain lawinal, desmosal, desmethoxymatteucinol, unonal, isounonal, desmosflavone, allantoic acid, succinic acid, daucosterol, beta-sitosterol, and stearic acid. [6]

D. chinensis leaf oil has been reported to contain limonene, germacrene, alpha-pinene, benxyl benzoate, beta-caryophyllene, and beta-pinene. [7]

D. chinensis root has been reported to contain unonal, negletein, desmethoxymatteucinol, dsmethyoxymatteucinol-7-methylether, benzoic acid, beta-sitosterol, and stigmasterol. [8]

Plant Part Used

Roots [4]

Traditional Use

The decoction root of D. chinensis is made used by the Malays to treat diarrhoea, dysentery, vertigo and in post partum pot herbs. [4]

Preclinical Data


Antimicrobial activity

The leaves of D. chinensishave been shown to exhibit antimicrobial activity. This is prominent with crude chloroform extract which showed activity against Straphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis and Bacillus subtilis with MIC values ranging from 500-1000 μg/mL; also against dermatophytes Trichophyton rubrum, Trichophyton menatgrophytes and Microsporum gypseum with MIC ranging from 31.25-62.50 μg/mL. [9]

Cytotoxic activity

Desmal isolated from chloroform extract of D. chinensis, showed strong inhibitory activity against thyrosine kinase enzymes. Desmal competed with peptide substrate and non-competed with ATP. It inhibited tyrosine kinase in situ in epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor-overexpressing NIH3T3 (ER12) cells. It also inhibited EGF-induced inositol phosphate formation and morphological changes. [10]

NFAT transcription inhibitory activity

Six phenolic compounds were isolated from the methanol extract of dried leaves of D. chinensis. Of the six compounds, negletein and 2',3'-dihydroxy-4',6'-dimethoxydihydrochalcone were found to have potent inhibitory activity activity against nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) transcription factor. [11]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing



Figure 1: The line drawing of D. chinensis [12]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Desmos chinensis Lour. [homepage on the Inetrnet]. c2013 [cited 2012 Mac 23, cited 2016 Aug 17]. 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. 678-679.
  3. Wiart C. Medicinal Plants of Southeast Asia. 2nd ed. Selangor, Malaysia: Prentice Hall, 2002; p. 22.
  4. 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. 796.
  5. Flora of China. Volume 19. Desmos chinensis Loureiro. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [cited 2016 Aug 17]. Available from:
  6. Ju J, Yu J. [Studies on chemical constituents of seeds of Desmos chinensis Lour]. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 1999;24(7):418-421. Chinese.
  7. Dài DN, Thang TD. Chemical composition of the leaf essential oil of Desmos chinensis Lour. (Annonaceae) from Vietnam. J Essen Oil Bear Plants. 2012;15(6):1044-1048.
  8. Jiuhong W, Chuanqing L, Shilong M, Shixuan L, Zhongwu S. [Chemical constituents from the root of Desmos chinensis]. Chin Trad Herb Drugs. 1999;31(8):567-569. Chinese.
  9. Kummee S, Intraksa N. Antimicrobial activity of Desmos chinensis leaf and Maclura cochinchinensis wood extracts. Songklanakarin J Sci Tech. 2008;30(5):635-639.
  10. Kakeya H, Imoto M, Tabata Y. Isolation of a novel substrate-competitive tyrosine kinase inhibitor, desmal, from the plant Desmos chinensis. FEBS Lett. 1993;320(2):169-172.
  11. Kiem PV, Minh CV, Huong HT, Lee JJ, Lee IS, Kim YH. Phenolic constituents with inhibitory activity against NFAT transcription from Desmos chinensis. Arch Pharm Res. 2005;28(12):1345-1349.
  12. Lemmens RHMJ, Bunyapraphatsara N, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia 12(3): Medicinal and poisonous plants 3. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publishers; 2003.