Oroxylum indicum (L.) Kurz

Last updated: 11 October 2016

Scientific Name

Oroxylum indicum (L.) Kurz


Arthrophyllum ceylanicum Miq., Arthrophyllum reticulatum Blume ex Miq., Bignonia indica L., Bignonia lugubris Salisb., Bignonia pentandra Lour., Bignonia quadripinnata Blanco, Bignonia tripinnata Noronha, Bignonia tuberculata Roxb. ex DC., Calosanthes indica (L.) Blume, Hippoxylon indica (L.) Raf. Oroxylum flavum Rehder, Spathodea indica (L.) Pers. [1]

Vernacular Name


Kulai, merkulai, merulia, merlai, bonglai kayu, bolai kayu, boli, boloi, bongloi,

berak, beka, beka kampung, bikir, bikir hangkap, kankatang, misai kucing, kulai [2][3]

English Midnight horror, Indian trumpet flower, broken bones, midday marvel [3]
China Mu hu die [3]
Indonesia Pongporang (Sundanese); kayu lanang, mungli (Javanese) [2]
Thailand Phe kaa (Central); litmai (Northern); lin faa (North-eastern) [2]
Laos Lin may, ung ka [2]
Philippines Pingka-pingkahan (Tagalog); abong-abong (Bisaya); kamkampilan (Iloko) [2]
Cambodia Pi ka [2]
Vietnam N[us]c n[as]c, ho[af]ng b[as] nam, m[ooj]c h[oof] di[eej]p [2]

Geographical Distributions

Oroxylum indicum is found from India eastward to southern China and the Philippines, and throughout South-East Asia; in Indonesia eastward to Sulawesi and the Lesser Sunda Islands. [2]

Botanical Description

O. indicum is a member of the Bignoniaceae family. O. indicum is a semi-deciduous and sparingly branched tree that can grow up to 27 m tall. Its trunk is up to 40 cm in diameter, with grey bark, with prominent leaf scars, thick twigs, pithy but turns hollow later and lenticellate. [2]

The leaves are crowded, imparipinnate, 3-4 times pinnate and measure 0.5-2 m long. The petiole is long while rachis is swollen at points of insertion. The stipules are absent. The leaflets are ovate to oblong, measuring 4-11(-15) cm x 3-9 cm, with wedge-shaped or mostly oblique base, acuminate at apex, entire and with scattered glands on the lower surface. [2]

The inflorescence is an erect raceme, terminal, measures 25-150 cm long, and with peduncle and partitioned rachis. The flowers are bisexual while the pedicel is 2-4 cm long and bracteolate. The sepal is coriaceous, bell-shaped, containing water in bud, measures 2-4 cm long, 1.5-2 cm in diametre, brown or dirty violet and becoming almost woody in fruit. The petal is funnel-shaped, measures about 10 cm long with 5 lobes, subequal, with wrinkled margin, reddish outside and yellowish to pinkish inside. There are 5 stamens that are inserted in the throat and hairy at the base. The ovary is superior, 2-celled and many-ovuled. [2]

The fruit is a pendent capsule, sword-shaped measuring 45-120 cm x 6-10 cm, with flat valves, almost woody and finally black. [2]

The seed measures 5-9 cm x 2.5-4 cm, including the membranous and transparent wing. Seedling is with epigeal germination. The hypocotyl is elongated while cotyledons are leafy. [2]


O. indicum is a short-lived nomad tree, nowhere gregarious, always encountered in canopy openings, secondary growths and thickets. It tolerates a wide range of both climatic and soil conditions, and occurs mostly below 1000 m altitude. [2]

Chemical Constituent

O. indicum has been reported to contain oroxylin A (5,7-dihydroxy-6-methoxyflavone), oroxylin B (baicalein-7-O-glucoside), baicalein (5,6,7-trihydroxyflavone), chrysin (5,7-dihydroxyflavone), chrysin-7-O-diglucoside, methoxy chrysin, oroxyloside methyl ester, chrysin-7-O-methyl glucoside, baicalein-7-O-diglucoside, epigenin, benzoic acid, sterols, prunetin, fatty acids, alkaloids, tannins, volatile oils, minerals and vitamins. [4][5][6]

The fruits of O. indicum has been reported to contain flavonoids; oroxylin (5,7-dihydroxy-6-methoxyflavone), aloe-emodin and chrysin, and ursolic acid. [7]

Seed of O. indicum has been reported to contain chrysin, baicalein, baicalein-7-O-glucosice, baicalein-7-O-diglucoside. [8]

Plant Part Used

Entire plant, root bark, bark, leaf, seed, fruit. [3]

Traditional Use

O. indicum has been claimed to be able to act as an antitumor, an antimalarial and an antimicrobial. It is believed to have been prescribed by Malays to treat toothache, rheumatism, wound, splenomegaly, gastralgia, dysentery, cholera, loss of appetite and fever. Any part of the plant may be used for making a decoction for external uses in childbirth. [3]

In India, Indonesia and Malaysia, the bitter root bark is used as an astringent and a tonic. It has been used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery. The records show that it is used by Malays to treat diarrhoea and also used by others to relieve constipation. In Philippine Islands, the bark of the root is claimed as an antirheumatic, an antidysenteric and a diaphoretic. An alcoholic maceration of fresh bark is applied externally as a lacquer to relieve allergic dermatitis. [3]

The leaves, rather than the bark, seem to have greater uses among the Malays. A decoction is recommended to treat gastralgia, loss of appetite, rheumatism and wounds. The same decoction is used externally as a hot fomentation during confinement and to relieve cholera, fever and rheumatic swelling. The boiled leaves may be used as an application during and after delivery as well as for treating dysentery. The hot leaves may be applied to treat splenomegaly. The leaves are applied to the cheek to treat toothache and as poultice to relieve headache. [3]

The seed of O. indicum is used by the Chinese to relieve abdominal pain, mouth ulcers and sore throat. It has been claimed to be beneficial for chronic cough and gastralgia. [3]

Preclinical Data


Antimutagenic activity

Methanolic extract of fruit of O. indicum has been reported to have antimutagenic activity of toward the food-derived mutagen, Trp-P-1, was determined by the Ames test. The significant activity was detected in a fraction eluted with 70-80% methanol. Further purification yielded baicalein as the antimutagenic principal. [4]

Anticancer activity

O. indicum has been reported to exhibited some cytotoxic activities in the brine shrimp lethality assay, sea urchin eggs assay, hemolysis assay and MTT assay using tumour cell lines. The extract of O. indicum showed the highest toxicity on all tumour cell lines tested, with an IC50 of 19.6 mg/mL for CEM, 14.2 mg/mL for HL-60, 17.2 mg/mL for B-16 and 32.5 mg/mL for HCT-8. [9]

Antiproliferative activity

O. indicum has been reported to have the antiproliferative activity on different human cell lines including erythroleukemic K562 cells, B lymphoid Raji and T lymphoid Jurkat human tumour cell lines. The data obtained indicate that the ethanolic extract of the stem bark of O. indicum showed an antiproliferative activity on all analysed human tumour cell lines: erythroleukemic K562 cells (IC50=3.77±0.32 mg/mL), B lymphoid Raji (IC50=23.20±9.6 mg/mL) and T lymphoid Jurkat (IC50=4.11±0.1 mg/mL).   The same plant extracts were screened for their activity in inhibiting the interactions between nuclear factors and double stranded target oligonucleotides mimicking the transcription factors such as Nuclear Factor-kappa B (NF-kB), activator protein (AP-1), signal transducer and activator of transcription (STATs), cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) and GATA-1 factors. The results showed that high concentration of O. indicum extract was unable to inhibit almost all TFs/DNA interactions, while it is active on the other AP-1/DNA interactions only when added at 50 mg/mL. [10]


No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation


No documentation

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of O. indicum. [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Oroxylum indicum (L.) [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Oct 19]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-317739
  2. Rasadah MA. Oroxylum indicum (L.) Kurz. In: van Valkenburg JLCH, Bunyapraphatsara N, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 2001; p. 394-396
  3. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 2. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR, 2002; p. 183-184.
  4. Nakahara K, Onishi-Kameyama M, Ono H, Yoshida M, Trakoontivakorn G. Antimutagenic activity against trp-P-1 of the edible Thai plant, Oroxylum indicum vent. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2001;65:2358-2360.
  5. Chen LJ, Song H, Lan XQ, Games DE, Sutherland IA. Comparisan of high-speed counter-current chromatography instruments for the separation of the extracts of the seeds of Oroxylum indicum. J Chromatogr A. 2005;1063:241-245.
  6. Chowdhury NS, Karim MR, Rana MS. In vitro studies on toxicological property of the root and stem bark extracts of Oroxylum indicum. Dhaka University J Pharm Sci. 2005;4:1-5
  7. Wiart C. Medicinal plants of The Asia-Pacific: Drugs for the future?. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, 2006; p. 567-568.
  8. Chen LJ, Games DE, Jones J.  Isolation and identification of four constituents from the seeds of Oroxylum indicum by high-speed counter-current chromatography. J Chromatogr A. 2003; 988:95-105.
  9. Costa-Lotufo LV, Khan MT, Ather A, et al. Studies of the anticancer potential of plants used in Bangladeshi folk medicine. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005; 99:21-30.
  10. Lampronti I, Mahmud THK, Borgatti M, Bianchi N, Gambari R. Inhibitory effects of Bangladeshi medicinal plant extracts on interactions between transcription factors and target DNA sequences. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2008;5(3):303–312.