Quassia indica (Gaertn.) Noot.

Last updated: 8 Nov 2016

Scientific Name

Quassia indica (Gaertn.) Noot.


Samadera indica Gaertn., Samadera madagascariensis A. Juss. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Kelapahit [2], kayu pahit, manuggal [3]
India Gucchakaranjah, karincottai, karinghola, karinghota, karingota, karingotta, karinjotta, karinjottei, karinnotta, lokanti, lokhandi, lokhanti, nibam, niepa, nipa, nipam, notta, samdera [2]
Indonesia Gatep pait [2], sahangi, lani [3]
Philippines Daraput, linatog-anat, linton-gamai, mabing-dato, malunggal, manunggal, mongal, palagurium, palagium, palo santo, ponoan [2]
Vietnam S[aa]m d[ee]f, th[awf]n l[awf]n [aas]n [3]
Papua New Guinea Tosi [3]
Madagascar Befaitra, bamafaitra, bemafaitry, bifaitra, kafaitra [2].

Geographical Distributions

Quassia indica occurs naturally from Madagascar eastward to Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar) and Indo-China, throughout Malaysia (except for Sumatra, Java, Lesser Sunda Islands), and eastward to the Solomon Islands. It is cultivated in Java and also in Malaysia. [3]

Botanical Description

Q. indica is a member of the family Simaroubaceae. It is a shrub or tree that can reach up to 20 m tall. [3]

The leaves are simple, elliptical-oblong to lance-shaped, measuring 12-30 cm x 4-12 cm, with prominent veins, and with pitted glands on both surfaces. The petiole is 1-2.5 cm long. [3]

The inflorescence is a terminal or axillary pseudo-umbel. It is 1-30 cm long. [3]

The flowers are bisexual with 4-lobed sepal, free petals, accrescent, measuring up to 3 cm x 1 cm and creamy green to violet. [3]

The fruit is an aggregate of the 4 carpels, laterally compressed, with a straight inner and semicircular outer margin and measures 4-9 cm x 2.5-5 cm. [3]

The seed is with thin testa, absent endosperm, plano-convex cotyledons and measuring up to 3.5 cm x 2.5 cm. [3]


Q. indica is usually rather rare but locally common in tidal swamp forests or periodically inundated forests. In lowland, mixed dipterocarp forest is usually found below 150 m altitude. [3]

Chemical Constituent

Q. indica has been reported to contain 2-O-glucosylsamaderine C, brucein D, canthin-2,6-dione, cedronin, dihydrosamaderine B, indaquassin A, indaquassin D, indaquassin E, indaquassin F, indaquassin X, samaderines B, samaderines C, samaderines D, samaderines E, samaderines X, samaderines Y samaderines Z, simarinolide, and soulameolide. [4]

Plant Part Used

Bark, leaves, seeds. [4]

Traditional Use

Most traditional medical systems of the tropical belt made use of various parts of this plant to treat fever of different origins but most of all of malaria. The Burmese, Indonesian, Malays and the Filipinos made use of decoction of the bark of Q. indica to treat fever. In India the bark immersed in coconut oil is the preferred remedy for fever while the Solomon Islanders made used of the decoction of the seeds and so does some Ayurvedic practitioners. [5][6]

Q. indica seeds and the seed oil are the remedy for rheumatism [7]. They are applied externally by Burmese and Indonesian traditional practitioners [5].

In India the infusion of the wood and bark is considered as an emmenagogue and is used to treat dysmenorrhoea. [7]

Q. indica juice of the bark is applied to the skin to treat various infective processes of the skin like abscesses, erysipelas. The leaves are also used to treat erysipelas and pruritus of the skin. The seed oil which is considered as an astringent is used to treat leprosy and scabies. The leaves could be used to treat worms. Pounded leaf of Q. indica is rubbed into the scalp to treat dandruff. [5][7][8]

The wood in coconut oil is considered a purgative and is being advocated in the treatment of constipation. The Indians believe the oil of the seeds is purgative. In Borneo the seeds are used to induce vomiting, a belief shared with the people of India. Indonesian advocate the use of a decoction of the seeds to stimulate the production of bile and the same is used in the treatment of cholera. Decoction of the wood chip is given to stimulate appetite amongst the in Indonesia. [5][7][8]

Preclinical Data


Anti-inflammatory activity

Samaderines X and B from the bark of Q. indica exhibited significant anti-inflammatory activity. [4]

Antimicrobial activity

In the process of characterization of the stem of Q. indica, reports had shown that the quassianoids samaderines X, Z, E and B were able to inhibit the growth of cultured malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum (a chloroquuine-resistant K1 strain). [4]

Cytotoxic activity

Quassianoids isolated from the barks of Q. indica was found to have cytotoxic activities against KB cells (a cell line derived from a human carcinoma of the nasopharynx) in vitro. These quassianoids had been identified as the following samaderines B, C, E X, Y and Z, indaquassin C and X. [4]


No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing



Figure 1: The line drawing of Q. indica [3]


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Quassia indica (Gaertn.) Noot. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 26; cited 2016 Nov 1]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2868435
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume IV M-Q. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 797.
  3. Ong HC. Quassia indica (Gaertner) Noot. 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. 465-466.
  4. Kitagawa I, Mahmud T, Yokota K, et al. Indonesian medicinal plants. XVII. Characterization of quassinoids from the stems of Quassia indica. Chem Pharm Bull. 1996;44(11):2009-2014.
  5. Wiart C. Medicinal plants of Asia and the Pacific. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2006; p. 188.
  6. Warrier PK, Nambiar VPK, Ramankutty C, editors. Indian medicinal plants: A compendium of 500 species. Volume 5. Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 1996; p. 55.
  7. Khare CP, editor. Indian medicinal plants: An illustrated dictionary. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2007; p. 531.
  8. Hariana HA. 262 Tumbuhan obat dan khasiatnya. Jakarta: Penebar Swadaya, 2013; p. 119.