Graptophyllum pictum (L.) Griff.

Last updated: 16 May 2015

Scientific Name

Graptophyllum pictum (L.) Griff.


Graptophyllum hortense Nees, Graptophyllum medioauratum Linden ex K.Koch, Graptophyllum picturatum W.Bull, Justicia picta L., Marama picta (L.) Raf. [1] 

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Pudding [2], puding, benalu, pudding benalu, demung, tulak [3]
English Caricature plant [2][4], graptofilum [3]
India Kaala-aduusa, ysjudemaram
Indonesia Wungu, daun temen-temen [3], handeuleum (Sundanese) [3]; daun unggu [4]
Thailand bai ngon [3], bai tawng [4]
Philippines Antolang, atai-atai, balasbas, balasbas-malomai, kalpueng, kalupeng, , pasau, sarasa, ternate, yovas [2][3], morado [4]
Cuba Guacamari, camagua, guacamayo [5][6][7][8]
Papua New guinea Kutung, nepec [2]

Geographical Distributions

No documentation

Botanical Description

Graptophyllum pictum is a member of the Acanthaceae family. It is a shrubby stove plant that can reach up to 3 m high. The leaves are green with irregular blotches of pale yellow and white. They are broadly ovate, pointed at both ends, measuring 10-15 cm long. The flowers are in cymes forming a terminal panicle, measure 3-12 cm long. The bracts are small with five-toothed calyx. The corolla is funnel-shaped, measuring 2-3 cm long, 2-lipped and crimson purple colour. The flower has four stamens but only two are fertile. [5][9]


No documentation

Chemical Constituent

G. pictum  has been reported to contain alkaloids, pectin, saponin, tannin, flavonoid and alcohol. [10]

Plant Part Used

Leaves, flowers [8][11][12]

Traditional Use

Traditionally, G. pictum is considered an emollient, resolvent, laxative, diuretic and anti-inflammatory. [11][12] In Cuba, the plant is prescribed in the treatment of earache, sores, swellings and wounds. [7] The Indonesian used it to treat tonsillitis, abscess and rheumatism. [8][11] Herbarium Amboinense on the eastern and central Indonesian plants mentioned that it has been used to treat breast engorgement and breast abscess. [6]

The leaves of G. pictum have been used to treat constipation, piles, swelling and ulcers [8][11] [12].  The Indians used the leaves as an emollient and resolvent. [12] In Malaysia the leaves was boiled and drunk to relieve the haermoorhoids, expel gallstoned and to assuage liver discomfort. For the swollen part a paste of the leaves is applied to soothe. [4] The flowers are considered an emmenagogue to regulate menstruation. [8][11]

Preclinical Data



Anti-inflammatory activity

Anti-inflammatory activity was detected in the ethanol extract, the water-soluble fraction, 1-butanol-solution fraction, methanol-soluble fraction and fr.II (a chromatographed fraction of hot methanol soluble fraction) of the G. pictum leaves. Fr. II contains flavonoids which could be responsible for the anti-inflammatory activity of the ethanol extract. [13]

Antibacterial activity

The leaves of G. pictum are active against Streptococcus mutans. A study was conducted to evaluate the effects of various concentrations of extracts of G. pictum leaves on the growth of plaques on acrylic resin denture. The result showed that the extract was effective in controlling the growth in a dose dependent manner [14].

Antifungal activity

The leaves extract of G. pictum was found to inhibit the growth of Candida albican on acrylic resin dentures [15].

Antidiabetic activity

The aqueous extract of the leaves of G. pictum exhibited hypoglycaemic activity comparable to metformin in alloxan-induced diabetic Wistar rats. The established effective dose was at 100 mg/kg. [10]

Oestrogenic activity

Oral administration of extracts of G. pictum leaves (0.5 mg/ 0.05 mL olive oil) to 3 month old female mice were found to produce increases in uterine diameter, mucous layer thickness, lumen epithelial cell height and glandular epithelial cell height (oestrogenic activities) when compared to distilled water treatment. These effects were lower than those in mice treated with ethinyl estradiol. [16]

Oxytocic and antiimplantation activities

Ethanol extract of G. pictum was able to induce the contraction of isolated strip of gravid rat uterus in mid pregnancy but the aqueous extract on the other hand reduced the normal contraction of the uterine strip. It was also found that the ethanol extract had an anti-implantation value of 93.8 % while the aqueous extract had only 16.8% compared to 3.9% in the group given distilled water. [17]

Antispermatogenetic activity

The extracts of G. pictum do not have any effects on the level of testosterone, weight of testes and fertility index in male rats. However, histopathological studies showed that there were significant changes in the spermatogonium, spermatocyte, spermatids and total spermatogenic cell number and spermatozoa of normal morphology in a dose dependent manner. Higher doses reduced the quality of spermatogenesis and the population of normal spermatozoa. [18]

Nephroprotective activity

Cisplatin caused nephrotoxicity in albino rats resulting in depletion of renal antioxidant defence systems. Treatment with alcoholic extract of G. pictum has caused a reversal of the nephrotoxic effects of cisplatin as evidenced by reduction in elevated serum creatinine and urea levels and restoration of the renal antioxidant defence systems. The restoration was indicated by the reduction in induced lipid peroxidation caused by cisplatin. [19]


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation


No documentation

Side effects

No documentation

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

This plant should not be used by women during pregnancy due to the oxytocic and anti-implantation activities found in animal studies. [18]

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation

Interaction with drug

There is a great possibility that when used with antidiabetic drugs, it could cause the development of hypoglycaemia. Diabetic patients on antidiabetic drugs should be cautious. [10]

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Graptophyllum pictum. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2015 May 20]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume III E-L. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 379
  3. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 1. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR, 2002; p. 47.
  4. Wiart C. Medicinal plants of The Asia-Pacific: Drugs for the future?. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, 2006; p. 552.
  5. Lowe EJ, Howard W, Fawcett B, Lydon AF. Beautiful leaved plants. London: Groombridge & Sons, 1886; p. 92
  6. Rumphius. Herbarium Amboinense Volume 4 Amsterdam; 1741. pg. 73
  7. Quiros-Moran D., Guide to Afro-cuban Herbalism, Authors House, Bloomington; 2009, pg. 314
  8. Thomas ANS. Tanaman obat traditional 2. Jakarta: Kanisius, 1992; p. 31–33
  9. Keng H. The concise flora of Singapore: Gymnosperms and dicotyledons Volume 1. Singapore: Singapore University Press, 1990; p. 188
  10. Olagbende-Dada SO, Ogbonnia SO, Coker HAB, Ukpo GE. Blood glucose lowering effect of aqueous extract of Justicia picta (Linn) Griff. on alloxan-induced diabetic rats and its acute toxicity in mice. Afr J Biotechnol. 2011;10:1039–1043.
  11. Hariana HA. Tumbuhan obat dan khasiatnya. Seri Pertama. Jakarta: Niaga Swadaya, 2004; p. 105
  12. Khare CP, editor. Indian medicinal plants: An illustrated dictionary. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2007; p. 294
  13. Ozaki Y, Sekita S, Soedigdo S, Harada M. Anti-inflammatory effect of Graptophyllum pictum (L.) Griff. hem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 1989;37(10):2799-802.
  14. Wahyuningtyas E. The Graptophyllum pictum extract effect on acrylic resin complete denture plaque growth. Maj. Ked. Gigi. (Dent.J). 2005;38(4):201–204
  15. Wahyuningtyas E. Pengaruh ekstrak Graptophyllum pictum terhadap pertumbuhan Candida albican pada plat gigi tiruan resin akrilik Indonesian. J Dentistry. 2008;15(3):187- 191
  16. Suhargo L. Efek estrogenik ekstrak daun handeuleum (Graptophyllum pictum (l.) Griff) pada histologi uterus mencit betina ovariektomi. Berk Penel Hayati. 2005;10:107–110
  17. Olagbende-Dada SO, Ukpo GE, Coker HAB, Adesina SA. Oxytocic and anti-implantation activities of the leaf extracts of Graptophyllum pictum (Linn) Griff. (Acanthaceae). Afr J Biotechnol. 2009;8(2):5979-5984
  18. Pranoto H. Kadar testosterone serum dan spermatogenesis tikus putih dewasa (Rattus norvegicus L.) setelah pemberian ekstrak daun wungu (Graptophyllum pictum (L.) Griff.) Electronic Theses & Dissertations Gadja Mada University. 2008
  19. Srinivasan KK, Mathew JE, Joseph K, Vachala SD, Malini S. Effect of ethanol extract of Graptophyllum pictum (Linn.) Griff. on cisplatin induced nephrotoxicity in rats. Herba Polonica. 2011;57(2):51-65