Eleutherine bulbosa (Mill.) Urb.

Last updated: 16 May 2016

Scientific Name

Eleutherine bulbosa (Mill.) Urb.


Eleutherine americana (Aubl.) Merr. ex K.Heyne, Antholyza meriana Blanco [Illegitimate], Bermudiana bulbosa (Mill.) Molina, Cipura plicata (Sw.) Griseb., Eleutherine anomala Herb., Eleutherine longifolia Gagnep., Eleutherine plicata (Sw.) Herb., Eleutherine subaphylla Gagnep., Ferraria parviflora Salisb., Galatea americana (Aubl.) Kuntze, Galatea bulbosa (Mill.) Britton, Galatea plicata (Sw.) Baker, Galatea vespertina Salisb. [Invalid], Ixia americana Aubl., Marica plicata (Sw.) Ker Gawl. [Illegitimate], Moraea plicata Sw. [Illegitimate], Sisyrinchium americanum (Aubl.) Lemée, Sisyrinchium bulbosum Mill., Sisyrinchium capitatum Pers., Bermudiana congesta (Klatt) Kuntze, Cipura plicata (Sw.) Griseb. [1]

Vernacular Name

English American eleutherine [2]
Indonesia Branbang sabrang, bawang sabrang [2], bawang kapal,babawangan beureum, bawang siyem, teki sabrang, luluwa [3][4]
Bolivia Ajillo [2]
Ecuador Hua-do, lumu lisan [2]
Peru Kampanak, lumumama, mama pirpiri, piripri, yahuar piri-pin, yawar periperi [2]

Geographical Distributions

No documentation

Botanical Description

Eleutherine bulbosa is a member of the Iridaceae family. It is herbaceous plant which can reach up to 40 cm high.

The stem is erect or drooping; subterranean, elongated ovoid and red in colour.

The leaves are radial, lanceolate and glabrous measure 25-60 cm x 1-2.5 cm. The flowers are white or yellow in colour and open in the evening for 2 hours.[5]


No documetation

Chemical Constituent

E. bulbosa  has been reported to contain eleutherol; isoeleutherin; eleutherin; [markedly increase the bloodflow of arteriae coronaria]; elecanacin; isoelecanacin; eleutherinoside A; eleuthoside B; (-)-3-[2-(acetyloxy)propyl]-2-hydroxy-8-methoxy-1,4-naphthoquinone; eleutherinol; 1,5-dihydroxy-3-methylanthraquinone; (-)-isoeleutherin; (+)-eleutherin; (-)-hongconin; (+)-dihydroeleutherinol; isoeleutherol; eleutherin; isoeleutherin; β-sitosterol; 8-hydroxy-3, 4-Dimethoxy-1-methyl-anthra-9, l0-quinone-2-carboxylic acid methyl ester; hongconin; 4,8-Dihydroxy-3-Methoxy-1-methyl-anthra-9,10-quinone-2-carboxylic  acid methyl ester, eleutherinone, kadsuric acid. [2][6][7][8][9][10] 

Plant Part Used

Tuber and leaves [3]

Traditional Use

E. bulbosa is traditionally used in the treatment of uterine haemorrhage, abortion, headache and anaemia. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of the bulb are taken for pertussis, haemoptysis and simple coughs [11]. The bulb is also used in the treatment of abscesses, impetigo, trauma and wounds. The treatment is by using the poultice of pounded bulb over the lesion. The chewed fresh bulb or expressed juice is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery, jaundice, colitis and also in cases of cancer of the colon. [3][11]

Preclinical Data


Anti-oxidant Activity

Seven new naphthoquinone compounds were isolated from the bulb of E. bulbosa.  Some of the compounds showed potent anti-oxidant activity. [9]

Anti-inflammatory Activity

Pyranonaphthoquinoids such as (-)-isoeleutherin was isolated from  E. bulbosa bulb. It exhibited anti-inflammatory activity as evidenced by its ability to inhibit lipopolysaccharide(LPS)-stimulated induction of nitric oxide (NO), suppress the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) protein and interferon-beta, and inhibit the activation of transcriptional activity of nuclear factor - kappa beta (NF-kB) by LPS. [12]

Antimicrobial Activity


E. bulbosa was shown to have antibacterial activity against Streptococcus pyogenesStaphylococcus aureus and Campylobacter sp. The effects of E. bulbosa on S. aureus has been extensively studied. It was found that the extracts of E. bulbosa could inhibit lipase and protease enzymes and enterotoxin production, a process which could be utilized in food preservation and healing of wounds. Amongst the isolated compounds that were assumed to support this activity were including eleutherol, eleutherin, isoeleutherin, hongconin and elecanacin. [13-20] They were also effective against MRSA. [21]

E. bulbosa was able to inhibit the formation of biofilm by S. pyogenes. [13] The ethanol extract of the bulb has been found to demonstrate antibacterial activity against all Campylobacter spp. both from humans and chicken isolates. [20]

Antifungal activity

Eleutherin, a naphthoquinone isolated from the bulb of E. bulbosa showed inhibitory activity to Trichophyton mentagrophytes in a dose dependent manner and is comparable to miconazole. The same compound showed potent antimelanogenesis activity with low toxicity as compared to the commercial skin-whitening agent arbutin. [22]


The extract of E. bulbosa and its oligosaccharides extract showed growth-promoting activity on mixed infant intestinal microbiota and individual bacterial species including bacteroides, bifidobacteria, clostridia, and lactobacilli. The highest levels of bacterial populations were seen from the oligosaccharide extract. This shows that E. bulbosa has the potential of being developed as a prebiotics ingredient in functional foods. [23]


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation

Side effects

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Eleutherine bulbosa. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2014 July 10. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-327974
  2. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 1. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR, 2002; p. 315.
  3. Jangkaru Z. Tanaman obat pelancar air seni. Jakarta: Penebar Swadaya, 2006; p. 21.
  4. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume IV E-L. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 38.
  5. Puri RK. Bulungan Ethnobiology Handbook. Bogor: Center for International Forestry Research, 2001; p. 78.
  6. Yaniv Z, Bachrach U. Handbook of medicinal plants. New York: Haworth Medical Press, 2005; p. 79.
  7. Nielsen LB, Wege D. The enantioselective synthesis of elecanacin through an intramolecular naphthoquinone-vinyl ether photochemical cycloaddition. Org Biomol Chem. 2006;4(5):868-876.
  8. Paramapojn S, Ganzera M, Gritsanapan W, Stuppner H. Analysis of naphthoquinone derivatives in the Asian medicinal plant Eleutherine americana by RP-HPLC and LC-MS. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2008;47(4-5):990-993.
  9. Han AR, Min HY, Nam JW, et al. Identification of a new naphthalene and its derivatives from the bulb of Eleutherine americana with inhibitory activity on lipopolysaccharide-induced nitric oxide production. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2008;56(9):1314-1316.
  10. Liu XJ, Yan XQ, Wang NL. Studies on chemical constituents of Eleutherine americana. Zhong Yao Cai. 2009;32(1):55-58.
  11. World Health Organization (WHO), Institute of Materia Medica Hanoi. Medicinal Plants in Viet Nam. Manila: World Health Organization-Regional Office for the Western Pacific/Institute of Materia Medica Hanoi, 1990; p. 167
  12. Song SH, Min HY, Han AR, et al. Suppression of inducible nitric oxide synthase by (-)-isoeleutherin from thebulbs of Eleutherine americana through the regulation of NF-kappaB activity. Int Immunopharmacol. 2009;9(3):298-302.
  13. Limsuwan S, Voravuthikunchai SP. Boesenbergia pandurata (Roxb.) Schltr., Eleutherine americana Merr. And Rhodomyrtus tomentosa (Aiton) Hassk. as antibiofilm producing and antiquorum sensing in Streptococcus pyogenes. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2008;53(3):429-436.
  14. Ifesan BO, Hamtasin C, Mahabusarakam W, Voravuthikunchai SP. Inhibitory effect of Eleutherine americana Merr. extract on Staphylococcus aureus isolated from food. J Food Sci. 2009;74(1):M31-M36.
  15. Ifesan BO, Siripongvutikorn S, Voravuthikunchai SP. Application of Eleutherine americana crude extract in homemade salad dressing. J Food Prot. 2009;72(3):650-655.
  16. Ifesan BO, Hamtasin C, Mahabusarakam W, Voravuthikunchai SP. Assessment of antistaphylococcal activity of partially purified fractions and pure compounds from Eleutherine americana. J Food Prot. 2009;72(2):354-359.
  17. Ifesan BO, Voravuthikunchai SP. Effect of Eleutherine americana Merr. extract on enzymatic activity and  enterotoxin production of Staphylococcus aureus in broth and cooked pork. Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2009;6(6):699-704.
  18. Mahabusarakam W, Hemtasin C, Chakthong S, Voravuthikunchai SP, Olawumi IB. Naphthoquinones, anthraquinones and naphthalene derivatives from the bulbs of Eleutherine americana. Planta Med. 2010;76(4):345-349.
  19. Ifesan BO, Joycharat N, Voravuthikunchai SP. The mode of antistaphylococcal action of Eleutherine americana. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2009 Nov;57(2):193-201.
  20. Sirirak T, Voravuthikunchai SP. Eleutherine americana: A candidate for the control of Campylobacter species. Poult Sci. 2011;90(4):791-796.
  21. Ifesan BO, Hamtasin C, Mahabusarakam W, Voravuthikunchai SP. Assessment of antistaphylococcal activity of partially purified fractions and pure compounds from Eleutherine americana. J Food Prot. 2009;72(2):354-359.
  22. Kusuma IW, Arung ET, Rosamah E, et al. Antidermatophyte and antimelanogenesis compound from Eleutherine americana grown in Indonesia. J Nat Med. 2010;64(2):223-226.
  23. Phoem AN, Voravuthikunchai SP. Eleutherine americana as a growth promoter for infant intestinal microbiota. Anaerobe. 2013;20:14-19.