Acanthus ebracteatus Vahl

Last updated: 01 June 2016

Scientific Name

Acanthus ebracteatus Vahl


Acanthus ilicifolius Lour. [Illegitimate], Acanthus ilicifolius var. ebracteatus (Vahl) Benoist, Dilivaria ebracteata (Vahl) Pers. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Beruju, jeruju, jeruju hitam; gerige (Sarawak) [2]
English Holly-leaved mangrove, sea holly [2]
Singapore Jeruju hitam [2]
Indonesia Daruju, juruju [2]
Thailand Ghuark-plar-mor, ngueak plaa mo, ngueak plea mo, ngueg-pla-moh [2]
Vietnam [oo] r[oo], uh ruh [2].

Geographical Distributions

Acanthus ebracteatus is endemic in Southeast Asia and is seen more in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, [3] but less found in Indonesia. It also widely distributed in northern Australia. [4]

Botanical Description

A. ebracteatus is one of the mangrove herbs of the family Acanthaceae. It is an erect herbaceous plant which can grow up to 1 m tall with woody material only seen in older branches. [3][4]

The stem is green to dark brown to black colour and is armed with numerous spines. It can grow up to 1.5-2m tall. [3][4]

The leaves are oblong and with a size of measuring 12-20 cm x 3-5 cm. [4] The leaf blade being dark green, stiff and deeply lobed. The apex of the lobes each has a sharp spine. [3]

The flowers are in terminal or axillary spikes of about 10 cm long with several flowers. The bracts are ovate and 0.6cm long while the bracteoles are absent. Corolla usually white in colour but there are varieties with pale blue colour. The lip is 2.5cm long and 1.5cm wide, white entirely or with cobalt blue tip and yellowish central keel, elliptic-oblong. The stamens are pink. [3]

The spike is up to 10 cm long, many-flowered, ovate bracts which are measures 6-8 mm long.. The sepal lobes are ovate in shape. The petal lobe is elliptical-oblong, measuring 2.5 cm x 2 cm, white and rarely bluish in colour. [4]

The fruit is a square-shaped capsule, which explodes when ripe and projecting the seeds measure up to 2m from the plant. [3]

The seeds are off-white and flat. [3]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

Aerial parts of A. ebracteatus has been reported to contain benzoxazinoid glucosides (e.g. 7-chloro-(2R)-2-O-beta-D-glucopyranosyl-2H-1,4-benzoxazin-3(4H)-one and (2R)-2-O-beta-D-glucopyranosyl-5-hydroxy-2H-1,4-benzoxazin-3(4H)-one). [5]

Crude water-soluble polysaccharides obtained from A. ebracteatus stem were reported to contain galactose, 3-O-methylgalactose and arabinose, galacturonic acid, rhamnose. [6]

Plant Part Used

Leaves, fruits, seeds, stems and roots. [7]

Traditional Use

Throughout Southeast Asia, the leaves of A. ebracteatus are being used to treat inflammatory conditions like rheumatism. The seeds on the other hand are highly regarded as a remedy for persistent boils. Pounded and mixed with water, it would render the person free of boils for a year for each seed taken. [8] In addition, the seeds are used to treat intestinal worms. [7]

For snakebites, the Malays often advocate the use of the roots as an immediate remedy. The same is used to treat effects of other animal toxins. [8] However, in Kalimantan, the fruit pulp is used to dress wounds of snakebites. [3]

It is generally known amongst the inhabitants of mangroves that the juices of the leaves are good for preventing hair loss. [3]

The roots are used to treat herpes zoster. [7]

A cough mixture is made from the seeds together with flowers of Averrhoa and black sugar cane, cinnamon and rock sugar. [7]

Preclinical Data


Antimutagenic activity

Various extracts of A. ebracteatus were found to be able to inhibit chemical mutagenesis by inhibiting enzyme activities necessary for the activation of indirect mutagens/carcinogens. [8]

Anti-inflammatory activity

In a study to evaluate the anti-inflammatory activity of A. ebracteatus, Laupattarakasem et al [10] found that the aqueous extract could reduce the production of eicosanoid. 

Antimicrobial activity

Hot water extracts of A. ebracteatus was shown to be able to inhibit growth of the following strains of bacteria S. aureus, S. epidermidis, L. plantarum, K. pneumoniae and P. vulgaris with minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) and minimum bactericidal concentrations (MBCs) in the range of 1-2 and 2-4 g/L, respectively. Thus, A. ebracteatus has good antimicrobial activity against nosocomial pathogen and skin infection bacteria at low concentrations. [11]


Chronic toxicity

Chronic toxicity studies done on rats given aqueous extracts of the roots of A. ebracteatus did not show any significant effects when given within therapeutic range. However, mild degree of changes in liver and kidneys were observed histopathologically with an exceptional increase in nephropathy observed in female rats receiving 2.7 and 13.5 gm/kg of the extract. Thus, aqueous extracts of the roots of A. ebracteatus would be considered safe for human use but prolonged use and overdose should be avoided to prevent nephrotoxicity. [12]

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

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  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Acanthus ebracteatus Vahl. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2013, cited 2016 June 01]. Available from
  2. 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. 43.
  3. MacKinnon K, Hatta G, Halim H, Mangalik A. The ecology of Kalimantan: Indonesia Borneo. Volume 3 of Ecology of Indonesia series. Ecology of Kalimantan. Dalhousie University Singapore: Tuttle Publishing, 2013; p. 512.
  4. Ong, HC. Acanthus ebracteatus Vahl In: van Valkenburg JLCH, Bunyapraphatsara N, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Leiden, The Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 2001; p.38.
  5. Kanchanapoom T, kamel MS, Kasai R, Picheansoonthon C, Hiraga Y, Yamasaki K. Benzoxazinoid glucosides from Acanthus ilicifolius. Phytochemistry. 2001;58(4):637-640.
  6. Hokputsa S, Harding SE, Innqjerdingen K, et al. Bioactive polysaccharides from the stems of the Thai medicinal plant Acanthus ebracteatus: Their chemical and physical features. Carbohydr Res. 2004;339(4):753-762.
  7. Burkill IH. A dictionary of economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Volume 1. Kuala Lumpur: Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives of Malaysia, 1966; p. 27.
  8. Ridley HN. The Flora of the Malay Peninsula Volume 2. London: Reeves and Co., 1923; p. 577.
  9. Rojanapo W, Tepsuwan A, Siripong P. Mutagenicity and antimutagenicity of Thai medicinal plants. Basic Life Sci. 1990;52:447-52.
  10. Laupattarakasem P, Houghton PJ, Hoult JR, Itharat A. An evaluation of the activity related to inflammation of four plants used in Thailand to treat arthritis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2003;85(2-3):207-215.
  11. Sittiwet C, Niamsa N, Puangpronpitag D. Antimicrobial activity of Acanthus ebracteatus Vahl. aqueous extract: The potential for skin infection treatment Int J Biol Chem. 2009;3(2):95-98.
  12. Siripong P, Kupradinan P, Piyaviriyagul S, et al.  Chronic toxicity of Acanthus ebracteatus Vahl. in rats. Bulletin of the Department of Medical Sciences (Thailand). 2001;43(4):293-307.