Limonia acidissima Groff

Last updated: 02 Mar 2017

Scientific Name

Limonia acidissima Groff


Schinus limonia L. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Belinggai, gelinggai [2], belingei [3][4]
English Indian wood apple, elephant apple [3], the wood apple [4], curd fruit, monkey fruit [5]
China Nu ping guo [3]
India Kapipriya (Sanskrit); bilin, kait (Hindi); katbel, kothun, kovit, velaga, bela, vila [3], kaith, kavita (Hindi); vilarmaram, vilavu (Malayalam); kapitthah (Sanskirt); vilankay maram (Tamil); velagapandu (Telagu) [5]
Sri Lanka Diwul, mayladikkuruntu, vila, vilatti [2]
Pakistan Kaith bel [2]
Indonesia Kawiste [3]
Thailand Makwit [3][4]
Philippines Ponoan [3]
Nigeria Kokuwa [2]
France Pommier d’éléphant [3]
Germany Olifants appel [3]

Geographical Distributions

Limonia acidissima occurs naturally in India, Sri Lanka, Burma and Indo-China, where it is limited to the drier regions. It is cultivated in villages and parks throughout its natural range, and naturalized in Malaysia and Indonesia (Java, Bali). It was introduced long ago into the United States (California, Florida) for experimental purposes. [6]

Botanical Description

L. acidissima is a member of Rutaceae family. It is a small, deciduous tree that can reach up to 12 m tall, with numerous, slender-armed branches with sharp and straight spines up to 4 cm long. [6]

The leaves are up to 12 cm long, imparipinnate with narrowly-winged rachis and petiole. The leaflets are arranged opposite in 2-3 pairs and one terminal, obovate, up to 4 cm long, with dotted oil glands and faintly aromatic when crushed. [6]

The flowers are staminate and perfect, 5-merous, white, green or reddish-purplish, usually together in lax, terminal or axillary inflorescences. [6]

The fruit is a hard-shelled, spherical berry, up to 10 cm diameter, with whitish scurfy surface and filled with pinkish, aromatic pulp which contains numerous slimy seeds. [6]

The seeds are 5-6 mm long, hairy, with thick and green cotyledons. The germination is epigeal. Seedling stem is slender and slightly zigzag. The first 1-4 leaves are unifoliolate. [6]


L. acidissima thrives in monsoon or seasonally dry tropical climate. It grows up to an elevation of 450 m in the western Himalaya where it is native. In Malaysia and Indonesia, trees are pre- dominantly cultivated in the coastal regions. It is apparently drought-tolerant and best adapted to light soils. [6]

Chemical Constituent

The ethanol extract of the dried bark of L. acidissima was found to contain neolignan (e.g. (7'E)-(7R,8S)-4-hydroxy-3,5'-dimethoxy-4',7-epoxy-8,3'-neolig-7'-en-9,9'-diyil diacetate); lignans (e.g. (+)-yangambin (2) and (+)-syringaresinol (3)); triterpenoids (e.g. hederatriol); basic acid methyl ester; 3β-hydroxyolean-12-en-11-one; and fatty acid derivatives (e.g. cascarillic acid, (+)-α-dimorphecolic acid (8), 8(R)-hydroxylinoleic acid, and (6Z,9Z,12Z)-pentadecatrienoic acid). [7]

The bark of L. acidissima was found to contain benzamide derivatives (e.g. N-{[ P-(3,7-dimethyl-6 R,7-dihydroxy-4 R-octadecanoyloxy-2-octenyloxy)phenyl]ethyl} benzamide; N-{[ P-(3,7-dimethyl-6 R,7-dihydroxy-4 R-9'''( E)-octadecenoyloxy-2-octenyloxy)phenyl]ethyl} benzamide; N-{[ P-(3,7-dimethyl-6 R,7-epoxy-4 R-9'''( E)-octadecenoyloxy-2-octenyloxy)phenyl]ethyl} benzamide; 13 α,14 β,17 α-lanosta-7,9,24-triene-3 β,16 α-diol; 4-methoxy-1-methyl-2(1 H)-quinolinone; and 13 α,14 β,17 α-lanosta-7,24-diene-3 β,11 β,16 α-triol (13). [8]

Plant Part Used

Bark and leaves. [5]

Traditional Use

The various parts of the plant used in traditional medicine posses different properties. The bark of L. acidissima is aromatic and cooling. The leaves are aromatic, astringent, carminative, constipating, antiemetic, expectorant and cardiotonic. The unripe fruit is sour, astringent, constipating and alexipharmic while the ripe fruit is sweet, sour, astringent, bitter, refrigerant, aromatic, anodyne, constipating, aphrodisiac, antiscorbutic, alexipharmic, cardiotonic, diuretic, vulnerary, expectorant, stomachic and antiemetic. [5]

The astringent, carminative, constipating, antiemetic activities render the plant useful in the treatment of various gastrointestinal diseases. The bark was prescribed for the treatment of stomach-ache, eating disorder, diarrhoea, vomiting and hiccup. The stomach-ache and intestinal problems also can be treated using the fruits and additionally it can form a paste to be applied to tone the breast. [5][9]

The leaves were traditionally used in the treatment of cough, respiratory problem and in cases of snakebites while for piles, both the leaves and fruits can be used. [10]

Preclinical Data


Antimicrobial activity

The methanol extracts of the bark, leaf, rind, pulp and seeds of L. acidissima showed varying degrees of antimicrobial activity against Escherichia coli and Staphylococus aureus[11]

Nitric oxide production inhibition activity

Several compounds isolated from L. acidissima potently inhibited nitric oxide (NO) production in microglia cells. [7][8]

Antihyperglycaemic and antihypercholesterolaemic activity

Fruit pulp of L. dicissima was found to exhibit antihyperglycaemic activity in fluoride-exposed rats. Exposure to fluoride had caused a significant increase in plasma and hepatic carbohydrate. Feeding fluoride-exposed rats with a diet laced with L. acidissima fruit powder for four weeks resulted in a significant decrease in plasma glucose. [12]

Antihypercholesterolemic activity

Fruit pulp of L. dicissima also was found to exhibit antihypercholesterolemic activity in fluoride-exposed rats. Results showed that exposure to fluoride had significantly increase lipid profiles and hepatic glucose-6-phosphate activity. There is also a significant increase in hepatic glycogen content and hexokinase activity, and plasma high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. [12]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing


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


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Limonia acidissima Groff. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Apr 18; cited 2017 Mar 02]. 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. 780-781.
  3. Hanelt P, Buttner R. Mansfeld’s encyclopedia of agricultural and horticultural Crops. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2001; p. 1037-1038.
  4. Burkill IH. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Volume 1. London: Published on behalf of the governments of the Straits settlements and Federated Malay states by the Crown agents for the colonies, 1935; p. 2303-2304. 998-999.
  5. Warrier PK, Nambiar VPK, Ramankutty C. Indian medicinal plants: A compendium of 500 species, Volume 3. Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 1995; p. 327.
  6. Jones DT. Limonia acidissima L. In: Verheij EWM, Coronel RE, editors. Plant resources of South-East Asia No. 2: Edible fruits and nuts. Wageningen, Netherlands: Pudoc, 1991; p. 190-191.
  7. Kim KH, Ha SK, Kim SY, Youn HJ, Lee KR. Constituents of Limonia acidissima inhibit LPS-induced nitric oxide production in BV-2 microglia. J Enzyme Inhib Med Chem. 2010;25(6):887-892.
  8. Kim KH, Lee IK, Kim KR, Ha SK, Kim SY, Lee KR. New benzamide derivatives and NO production inhibitory compounds from Limonia acidissima. Planta Med. 2009;75(10):1146-1151.
  9. Khare CP. Indian herbal remedies: Rational western therapy, Ayurvedic, and other traditional usage, botany. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2004; p. 214–215.
  10. Nadkarni KM. Dr. K. M. Nadkarni's Indian materia medica. Volume 1. Mumbai: Popular Prakashan, 1996; p. 742.
  11. Thomas A, Ponnammal NR. Preliminary studies on phytochemical and antibacterial activity of Limonia acidissima L. plant parts. Anc Sci Life. 2005;25(2):57-61.
  12. Vasant RA, Narasimhacharya AV. Limonia fruit as a food supplement to regulate fluoride-induced hyperglycaemia and hyperlipidaemia. J Sci Food Agric. 2013;93(2):422-426.