Glycosmis pentaphylla (Retz.) DC.

Last updated: 6 September 2016

Scientific Name

Glycosmis pentaphylla (Retz.) DC.


Bursera nitida Fern.-Vill. Chionotria monogyna Walp. Chionotria rigida Jack Glycosmis arborea (Roxb.) DC. Glycosmis chylocarpa Wight & Arn. Glycosmis madagascariensis Corrêa ex Risso Glycosmis quinquefolia Griff. Glycosmis retzii M.Roem. Glycosmis rigida (Jack) Merr. Limonia arborea Roxb. Limonia pentaphylla Retz. Myxospermum chylocarpum (Wight & Arn.) M. Roem. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Merapi, nerapi, terapi [1], napan, nerapan [2], merapi [3]
English Ash sheora, orangeberry, rum berry, gin berry [4]
China Shan xiao jie, shi ling jiu [5]
Indonesia Gongseng (Sundanese); jerukan, totoan (Javanese) [1]
Thailand Khoei tai, luk khoei tai [6]
Philippines Gingging (Tagalog, linauin (Iloko)) [1]
Cambodia Dom phlang [1]
Laos som sum, om chune [1]
Vietnam C[ow]m r[uw]-[owj]u, b[uw][owr]i bung [1].

Geographical Distributions

Glycosmis pentaphylla is found from India and Sri Lanka eastward to Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, southern China and Indo-China, possibly the Philippines, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Java and also cultivated elsewhere. [1]

Botanical Description

G. pentaphylla is a member of the family Rutaceae. It is an evergreen shrub or small tree that reaches to a height of between 1-5 m. The branches are hairless, unarmed, young parts finely rusty and puberulent. [1]

The leaves are alternate, pinnate with an unpaired terminal leaflet with (1-)3-5(-7) leaflets supported by a 2.5-5.5 cm long stalk. The leaflets are narrowly elliptical or oblong-elliptical with a size of 6-24 cm x 2-7 cm. The base is acuminate, margin is entire or minutely and distinctly with small teeth-serrate, lateral veins 6-12 pairs and supported with 3-8 mm long leaflet stalk [1].

The inflorescence is arising from the axils, paniculate, elongated up to 8 cm long, narrow, tri-pinnate, branches short, ascending, axes and bracteoles rusty covered with down and fine hair. Its flowers are about 5 mm long, fragrant; sepals are broadly egg-shaped to rotund, 1-1.5 mm long, margin ciliolate; petals are reverse egg-shaped to elliptical, 5 mm x 2.5 mm, hairless, white with stamens up to 3.5 mm long.The ovary is ovoid, up to 2.5 mm long, coarsely blister-like prominences-glandular, usually 5-celled, style scarcely distinct [1].

The fruit is a berry, nearly spherical, white to pink or crimson, 10-13.5 mm in diametere, 1(-3)-seeded and edible [1]. The seed is round to plano-convex, nearly longer than broad with the side parallel and green [1].


G. pentaphylla prefers relatively dry habitats from sea-level up to 1000 m altitude, and is commonly encountered in secondary thickets [1].

Chemical Constituent

Methanol-dichloromethane extract of G. pentaphylla dried stem bark from Papua New Guinea has been reported to contain naphthoquinone acridone alkaloid (e.g glycoquinone and glycocitrine-III and alkaloids (e.g. noracronycine, des-N-methyl-noracronycine, des-N-methylacronycine, citracridone-I, arborinine, 5-hydroxyarborinine, acrifoline, skimmianine, kokusaginine, avicenol-B, avicequinone-C, and avicenone were also isolated). [6]

G. pentaphylla stems has been reported to contain hydroquinone diglycoside acyl esters (e.g. glypentosides A-C and seguinoside F) [7], apiosyl-(16)-glucosyl isoflavones (e.g.: 3’,7-dihydroxy-4’,5,6-trimethoxyisoflavone 7-O-(5-O-trans-p-coumaroyl)-β-D-apiofuranosyl-(16)-β-D-glucopyranoside, 2’,7-dihydroxy-4’,5’,5,6-tetramethoxyisoflavone 7-O-(5-O-trans-p-coumaroyl)-β-apiofuranosyl-(16)-β-D-glucopyranoside, 2’,7-dihydroxy-4’,5’,5,6-tetramethoxyisoflavone 7-O-β-D-apiofuranosyl-(16)-β-D-glucopyranoside, 7-hydroxy-4’,8-dimethoxyisoflavone 7-O-β-D-apiofuranosyl-(16)-β-D-glucopyranoside, 7-hydroxy-4’,6-dimethoxyisoflavone 7-O-β-D-apiofuranosyl-(16)-β-D-glucopyranoside, and 4’,5-dihydroxy-3’,7-dimethoxyisoflavone 4’-O-β-D-apiofuranosyl-(16)-β-D-glucopyranoside. [8]

G. pentaphylla root bark has been reported to contains alkaloids skimmianine, g-fagarine, dictamine, arborine, carbazole, 3-methoxycarbazole, homoglycosolone, homoglycolone, glycolone, glycozoline, and glycozolicine, and β-sitosterol. The roots contain carbazoles glycozoline, glycozolidine, dictamine, arborine and skimmianine, while the leaves contain arborinine, mupamine, triterpene arborinone, vitexin, 7-methoxy apigenin, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, vanillic acid, syringic acid and ferulic acid. [9]

The flowers has been reported to contain glycophymine, glycosolone, glycophymoline, and an amide glyomide. [9]

Ethyl acetate soluble fraction of leaf extract of G. Pentaphylla leaf extract has been reported to containarborine [2-benzyl-1-methyl-4(1H)-quinazolone] as the major compound. [10]

Plant Part Used

Leaf, stem, root. [3]

Traditional Use

In Malaysia, an infusion of the G. pentaphylla leaves and roots is prescribed to mothers during confinement. In Java, a decoction of the roots and leaves is taken to treat intestinal ailments. In India, the herb is used to treat diarrhoea, coughs, rheumatism, anaemia, and jaundice. The juice from the leaves is used to treat fever, liver problems and also as anthelmintic. A paste prepared from the leaves of the herb and ginger can be used for the treatment of eczema and other skin infections. [3]

Preclinical Data


Antitumor activity

An acridone alkaloid called arborinine obtained from G. pentaphylla showed significant inhibition of crown gall tumours in a simple potato disc bioassay. The arborinine has the potential as an anticancer agent, hence further in vitro assay using cancer cell lines are needed to confirm this activity. [11]

Insecticidal and Larvicidal activity

A study to identify (i) the active principle in the leaf extract of G. pentaphylla and (ii) the structure of at least one of the effective compounds using in vitro bioassay which measures the rate of juvenile hormone biosynthesis in the corpora allata of insects. The ethanolic acetate fraction of G. pentaphylla leaf extract inhibits the juvenile hormone biosynthesis in the corpora allata from 3 day old females of the field cricket Gryllus bimaculatus in a dose-dependent manner. The bioactive compound was identified as the alkaloid arborine. This alkaloid was also found to contain strong insecticidal activity against dipteran species as well as showing larvicidal activity against the mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus. [10]

Hepatoprotective activity

The effects of leaf extracts and stem bark of G. pentaphylla were studied on CCl4 induced hepatic injury in albino rats. The parameters studied include plasma liver enzymes (ALT, AST and ALP), total bilirubin and tissue histopathology. The recovery of hepatic tissues was demonstrated with the highest dose of leaf extract at 750mg/kg body weight and at this therapeutic dose, there was no toxic effect shown. At and above the dose of 2.5g/kg body weight, toxicity of leaf extract was observed as shown by the tissue histopathology. [12]

Another study on the hepatoprotective activity of extracts from the stem bark of G. pentaphylla and the whole plant of Phyllanthus fratermus was evaluated against CCl4-induced jaundice in rats. The extracts were administered orally for 7 days. On the 3rd and 6th days, the rats were given CCl4 and olive oil subcutaneously in 50:50 ratio. The blood samples were taken on the 8th day and serum liver enzymes such as ALP, ALT, ALT, g-GT and total bilirubin were analysed. The results of the study showed the crude extracts of G. pentaphylla and P. fratermus demonstrated the ability to prevent hepatic injury/liver necrosis in the preventive group and showed enhanced regeneration on the curative group. [13]


The leaf extract of G. Pentaphylla showed toxicity level to be at and above 2.5 g/kg body weight as was histopathologically observed in tissues of albino rats. [12]

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of G. pentaphylla [1]


  1. Chua L. Valkenburg V. Glycosmis pentaphylla (Retz.) DC. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 2001; p. 275-278
  2. Burkill IH. A dictionary of economic products of the Malay Peninsula Vol. 1: Kuala Lumpur Governments of Malaysia and Singapore by the Ministry of Agriculture and cooperatives; 1966; p. 1086.
  3. Samy J, Sugumaran M, Lee KLW. Herbs of Malaysia. Federal Publications Sdn. Berhad, Shah Alam. 2005; p. 114-115
  4. TopTropicals–Rare plants for home and garden. [homepage on the Internet]. Florida; c2003-2016 [updated 2016 September 9] Available from:
  5. Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database. [homepage on the Internet]. Melbourne: University of Melbourne; c1995-2020 [updated 2007 Mar 28; cited 1997 July 72] Available from:
  6. Ito C, Kondo Y, Rao S, Tokuda H, Nishino H, Furukawa H. Chemical constituents of Glycosmis pentaphylla. Isolation of a novel napthoquinone and a new acridone alkaloid. Chem Pharm Bull. 1999;47:1579-1581.
  7. Wang J. et al. Hydroquinone diglycoside acyl esters from the stems of Glycosmis pentaphylla. Phytochemistry. 2006;67:486-491.
  8. Wang J. et al. Isoflavone diglycosides from Glycosmis pentaphylla. J Nat Prod. 2006;69:778-782.
  9. Daniels M. Medicinal plants: Chemistry and properties. Science Publishers, Enfield, USA. 2005; p. 43.
  10. Muthukrishnan J. et al. Inhibition of juvenile hormone biosynthesis in Gryllus bimaculatus by Glycosmis pentaphylla leaf compounds. Phytochemistry. 1999;50(2):249-254.
  11. Quader MA, Nutan MTH, Rashid MA. Antitumor alkaloid from Glycosmis pentaphylla, Fitoterapia. 1999;70:305-307.
  12. Mitra S, Sur RK. Hepatoprotection with Glycosmis pentaphylla (Retz). Indian J. Exp Biol. 1997; 35:1306-1309.
  13. Borah RC, Mohan P, Choudhury BH, Barua IC. Hepatoprotective activity of Phyllanthus fraternus L. and Glycosmis pentaphylla (Retz.) correa used against jaundice in N.E. India. Jorhat: Indian Society of Agricultural Biochemists, 2004; p. 259-262.