Calophyllum inophyllum L.

Last updated: 12 May 2016

Scientific Name

Calophyllum inophyllum L.


Calophyllum wakamatsui Kaneh., Calophyllum spurium Choisy, Calophyllum ovatifolium Noronha [Invalid], Calophyllum blumei Wight, Calophyllum bingator Roxb., Calophyllum apetalum Blanco [Illegitimate], Balsamaria inophyllum Lour. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Penaga laut, bentagor bunga, bintagor, bintangor laut, enaga, penaga air, pudek, senaga [2][3][4]
English Alexandrian laurel, beautyleaf, Indian laurel, laurelwood, mastwood [5], borneo mahogany [2] beach mahogany, poon, oil nut tree [3], ball nut, ball nut tree, portia tree, poonay oil plant, satin touraga, sweet-scented calophyllum [4]
China Hai-tang-guo, hong hou ke, hu tong [4]
India Sultana-champa, surpunka, undi (Hindu); hona, hone, mara, surahonnae ponne, voma, uma (Kannada); betan, cerupunna, pine, ponna (Malayalam); nagchampa, pumag, surangi, undag, undi (Marathi); tungakesara (Oriya); namaeruak, panchakaeshera, punnaman, tunga (Sanskrit); arttakecam, cayantakam, koppika, pinnai, punnakam, tevali (Tamil); naameru, ponna, pumagamu (Telugu) [4]
Indonesia Nyamplung (Javanese and Sundanese); dingkaran (Sulawesi); punaga, penago (Sumatra) [4]
Thailand Kating, kra ting (General); saraphee naen (Northern); naowakan (Nan) [4]
Myanmar Ponnyet, ph'ong [4]
Philippines Bitaog, bitok, bitong, butulau, dagkalan, palo maria de la playa (Tagalog); pamitaogen (Iloko); vutalau (Ivatan) [4]
Vietnam Cong, mù U [4]
Papua New Guinea Beach calophyllum [3][4]
Hawaii Kamani, kamanu, [3] foraha, tamanu [4]

Geographical Distributions

Calophyllum inophyllum is native to Peninsular Malaysia and India. It is commonly planted as ornamental in the West Indies, South Florida, Hawaii and Guam [5]

Botanical Description

C. inophyllum is a member of the Guttiferae family. It is a large tree which can reach up to 20 m high. The trunk is covered by light gray bark with a pink inner bark. The leaves are broad, glossy, leathery and elliptic-oblong and measures 8-16 cm x 4-8 cm. The veins are numerous and run parallel to the sides. The flowers are white in erect racemes and sweetly fragrant. The fruits are globose in shape measuring 2 cm across and are green in colour and become yellowish-brown at maturity. It contains one large seed with a bony shell. The plant has cream coloured resinous latex [5]


Soil Suitability and Climate Requirement

C. inophyllum occurs wild on rocky and sandy sea shores where it grows just above the high-tide mark. Temperatures where it grows are moderated by the proximity of the sea. Annual rainfall is 750-5000 mm. The habitat is often pronouncedly xerophytic due to the exposed situation, brackish ground water and salt-laden winds. C. inophyllum is sensitive to frost and fire. It is sometimes found inland on sandy soils up to 200 m altitude, especially on islands. It is planted inland, up to 1200 m altitude [6]

Field Preparation

Land Preparation

C. inophyllum is rarely planted for its timber, more commonly as an ornamental or roadside tree. [7]

Production of Planting Materials

Natural regeneration usually occurs near the mother tree. Seedlings grown in nurseries require shade. Removal of the endocarp significantly reduces the germination period to about 22 days, increases the germination rate and improves seedling growth and development. Initial growth is slow and repeated weeding is necessary. There are up to 200 seeds/kg. seed storage behaviour is recalcitrant. [7]

Pest and Disease Control

In the Seychelles many C. inophyllum trees are affected by a vascular wilt disease caused by the fungus Leptographium calophylli, which causes severe die-back and ultimately death of the tree. The beetle Cryphalus trypanus is the likely vector of the pathogen. [7]


For production of timber longer than 3 m, trees with straight boles should be selected. For seed oil extraction, seeds are shelled; initially the kernels contain little apparent oil but after about a month the kernels turn chocolate brown and become sticky with oil; they are chopped, dried, pounded and then boiled. The oil is skimmed from the top of the boiling water. The seeds may also be crushed to a paste and the oil is extracted by cold expression and is not refined so as to conserve all medicinal properties. [7]

Chemical Constituent

C. inophyllum is reported to contain 1, 3, 5-trihydroxy-2-methoxyxanthone; 1,3,5,6-tetrahydroxy-2-isoprenylxanthone; 1,5-dihydroxyxanthone; 1, 7-dihydroxyxanthone; 2-hydroxyxanthone; 3,4-secofriedelan-3,28-dioic acid; 3β, 23-epoxy-friedelan-28-oic acid; 3-oxo-27-hydroxyacetate friedelan-28-oic acid; 3-oxo-friedelan-28-oic acid; 4-hydroxyxanthone; 6-oxyjacareubin; 27-hydroxyacetate canophyllic acid; (+)-calanolide A; a-tocopherol; b-sitosterol; d-tocopherol; amentoflavone; brasiliensic acid; calaustralin; calophinone; calophyllolide; calophyllumin C; caloxanthones A and B; caloxanthone E; caloxanthone N; caloxanthone O; caloxanthone P; canophyllal; canophyllic acid; canophyllol; canophyllic acid; calophynic acid; epifriedelanol; friedelin; friedelan-3-one; gerontoxanthone B; gerontoxanthone C; guanandin; inocalophyllins A and B; inophyllin A; inophyllolide; inophylloidic acid; inophyllum B,C, E and P; Inophyone; inophyxanthone A; jacareubin; kaempferol-3-O-α-L-rhamnoside; macluraxanthone; oleanolic acid; oleic acid; palmitic acid; pancixanthone A; patulone; pyranojacareubin; quercetin-3-O-α-L-rhamnoside; stearic acid; stigmasterol; tamanolide; tamanolide D; tamanolide P. [8-13]

Plant Part Used

Bark, fruit, juice and leaves [8][14]

Traditional Use

Properties include antibacterial, anticancer/antineoplastic, anti-inflammatory, antiplatelet, antipsychotic, antiviral, photoprotective and piscicidal. [8] The bark has astringent activities and a decoction is used to treat diarrhea and dysentery. However, when pounded, the juice expressed is a purgative. The fruit is also a purgative. The gum is also an emetic. [8][14][15]

The plant is used in treatment of rheumatism. Some advocate the use of the whole plant while others the seed oil applied topically over the affected areas. The juice extracted from pounded bark is applied over swollen testicles to help relieved pain and inflammation. [8][14]

The seed oil of C. inophyllum had been used to treat skin diseases like scabies, ringworms and dermatosis. The leaves are used for chicken pox, skin inflammation and sunburn. A decoction of the bark is used to dress ulcers. In Indochina the powdered resin is applied over ulcers and infected wounds. [8][14][15][16] The gum is emetic and purgative. Migraine and Vertigo is treated using the leaf. The seed oil is used in the treatment of genitourinary and venereal diseases. [8][14]

Preclinical Data


Antiviral activity

One of the interesting feature of C. inophyllum is the recent discovery of its anti-HIV activity. Inophyllum B and P10 were the first of the many compounds isolated from C. inophyllum to show active inhibition of HIV reverse transcriptase with IC50 of 38 and 130 nM respectively. Studies [17] reported that the inophyllums are non-nucleotide inhibitors, slow on-rate and that template-primer must bind to reverse transcriptase prior to inhibitor binding. The inhibition of reverse transcriptase by inophyllums was shown to be reversible. One study isolated another coumarin costatolide, which also has anti-HIV activity. [18]

Cancer chemopreventive activity

The 4-phenylcoumarins isolated from C. inophyllum showed inhibitory effects on Epstein-Barr virus early antigen activation induced by 12-O-tetradecanolyphorbol-13-acetate in Raji cells. The most potent is Calocoumarin-A which also exhibited marked inhibitory effect on mouse skin tumour promotion in an in vivo two stage carcinogenesis test. [19]  Caloxanthone N and O, and gerontoxanthones were isolated from the ethanolic extract of the twigs of C. inophyllum and proven to have cytotoxic activity against chronic myeloid leukemia cell cine (K562) with IC50 values of 7.2 and 6.3 µg/ml, respectively. [9][11]

Healing of ocular burns activity

Said et al found that the controlled ionization marine solution with 10% C. inophyllum oil and 90% Aleurites moluccana oil induced regeneration of the corneal epithelium and decrease in inflammatory cells. They concluded that irrigation with marine solution followed by treatment with a mixture of C. inophyllum and Aleurites moluccana oils is a promising treatment of ocular burns. [20]

Cytoprotective effects against UV-induced damage activity

Studies shows on the cytoprotective effects of C. inophyllum oil against UV-induced DNA damage and oxidative stress. They found that at a low concentration (1/10,000 v/v) the oil exhibited significant UV absorption properties (max. 300 nm) and was associated with and important sun protection factor. At a concentration of 1% there were no cytotoxic activity against human conjunctival epithelial cells; at the same time it was observed to protect cells against oxidative stress and DNA damage and did not induce in vivo ocular irritation. [21]


The seed kernel is poisonous. It contains inophyllum A – E, calophyllolide,and  calophynic acid. Upon ingestion it can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea and dehydration. The latex is non-toxic but has been known to cause keratoconjunctivitis when in contact with the cornea. [22]

The unrefined oil is toxic. Mild, focal to severe and widespread lesions were noticed in kidneys, hearts and livers of rats fed with C. inophyllum seed oil.[8]

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

Ingestion of the fruit of C. inophyllum can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhoea, and dehydration. The latex is used as a home remedy in the West Indies and the Pacific and appears to be non-toxic, although it can cause keratoconjuctivitis when in contact with the cornea [2][5].


Side effects

No documentation

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

No documentation

Age limitation

No documentation

Adverse reaction

Tamanu oil extracted from the fruits or seeds of C. inophyllum been reported to cause allergic dermatitis, with photo worsening of patch tests [23].

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation


No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

Toxic parts

Seed kernel, oil expressed from the seeds. The leaves are poisonous to the fish. [2][5]


The unrefined oil extracted from the seeds is considered toxic. In rats fed with the oil, mild, focal to severe and widespread lesions were found in the kidneys, hearts and livers [2].

Risk management

C. inophyllum has been planted for shade in many parts of the world. It is a prolific seeder. The hard, golf ball-sized fruits are not only mildly poisonous especially the ripe ones, but can pose a problem when they fall on sidewalks, streets, lawns and other areas. People accidentally stepping on them may slip and fall. These fruits should be frequently removed by the local authority workers to avoid this from happening. [3]

Line drawing




Figure 1: The line drawing of C. inophyllum L. [6]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Calophyllum inophyllum L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 May 12]. Available from:
  2. 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. 33.
  3. Elevitch CR. Traditional trees of pacific islands: Their culture, environment, and use. Holualoa: Permanent Agriculture Resources, 2006; p. 194.
  4. Lim TK. Edible medicinal and non-medicinal plants. Volume 2: Fruits. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer, 2012; p. 7.
  5. Nelson LS, Shih RD, Balick MJ. Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2007; p. 100-101.
  6. Lemmens RHMJ, Bunyapraphatsara N. Medicinal and poisonous plants no 12(3). Wageningen, Netherlands: Backhuys Publishers, 2003; p. 104-105
  7. Lemmens RHMJ, Bunyapraphatsara N. Medicinal and poisonous plants no 12(3) In: Louppe D. Plant Resources of Tropical Africa: Timbers 7. Wageningen, Netherlands: PROTA Foundation, 2008; p. 120-124
  8. 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. 32–33
  9. Xiao Q, Zeng YB, Mei WL, Zhao YX, Deng YY, Dai HF. Cytotoxic prenylated xanthones from Calophyllum inophyllum. J Asian Nat Prod Res. 2008;10(9-10):993-997.
  10. Li YZ, Li ZL, Yin SL, et al. Triterpenoids from Calophyllum inophyllum and their growth inhibitory effects on human leukemia HL-60 cells. Fitoterapia. 2010;81(6):586-589.
  11. Dai HF, Zeng YB, Xiao Q, Han Z, Zhao YX, Mei WL. Caloxanthones O and P: two new prenylated xanthones from Calophyllum inophyllum. Molecules. 2010;15(2):606-612.
  12. Leu T, Raharivelomanana P, Soulet S, Bianchini JP, Herbette G, Faure R. New tricyclic and tetracyclic pyranocoumarins with an unprecedented C-4 substituent. Structure elucidation of tamanolide, tamanolide D and tamanolide P from Calophyllum inophyllum of French Polynesia. Magn Reson Chem. 2009;47(11):989-993.
  13. Li Y, Li ZL, Liu MS, Li DY, Zhang H, Hua HM. [Xanthones from leaves of Calophyllum inophyllum Linn.] Yao Xue Xue Bao. 2009;44(2):154-157.
  14. Khare CP. Indian medicinal plants: An illustrated dictionary. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2007; p.113.
  15. Khare CP. Indian herbal remedies: Rational western therapy, ayurvedic, and other. Berlin: Springer, 2004; p.118.
  16. Jean H. Langenheim plant resins: Chemistry, ecolution, ecology and ethnobotany. Portland: Timber Press Inc, 2003; p. 382.
  17. Taylor PB, Culp JS, Debouck C, et al. Kinetic and mutational analysis of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reverse transcriptase inhibition by inophyllums, a novel class of non-nucleoside inhibitors. J Biol Chem. 1994;269(9):6325-6331.
  18. Spino C, Dodier M, Sotheeswaran S. Anti-HIV coumarins from Calophyllum seed oil. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 1998;8(24):3475-3478.
  19. Itoigawa M, Ito C, Tan HT, et al. Cancer chemopreventive agents, 4-phenylcoumarins from Calophyllum inophyllum. Cancer Lett. 2001;169(1):15-9.
  20. Said T, Dutot M, Labbé A, Warnet JM, Rat P. Ocular burn: rinsing and healing with ionic marine solutions and vegetable oils. Ophthalmologica. 2009;223(1):52-59.
  21. Said T, Dutot M, Martin C, et al. Cytoprotective effect against UV-induced DNA damage and oxidative stress: role of new biological UV filter. Eur J Pharm Sci. 2007;30(3-4):203-210.
  22. Nelson LS, Shih RD, Balick MJ. Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. United State: Springer-Verlag, 2007; p. 100–101
  23. Frosch PJ, Menne T, Lepoittevin JP. Contact dermatitis. 4th Edition. Berlin: Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2006; p. 786