Helicteres isora L.

Last updated: 12 Jun 2015

Scientific Name

Helicteres isora L.


Helicteres grewiaefolia DC., Helicteres roxburghii G. Don,  Ixora versicolor Hassk. Isora grewiaefolia (DC.) Schott & Endl. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Chabai tali, chabai lintal, kayu ulas [2], cabai pintal, kayu ules, kayu mules, cabik tali [3]
English Red isora, Indian screw tree [2], East Indian screw-tree, nut-leaved screw-tree, spiral bush [4]
China Huo suo ma [4]
India Aat hateri, aedamuri kaayi, aithan, antmachra, awartaki, bendu, bhoota-karalu, chachalu, dhamini, edamuri balamuri, cucula, gubadarra, javiri, kappali, mardasing, marophali, nunikaya, teil, valampuri, vurkatee [4]
Indonesia Puteran (Sundanese); elumpang, dlumpangan [2], kayu puter (Ja­vanese) [4]
Thailand Po pit (central, north­ern); cho (Karen, Chiang Mai); po thap (Chiang Mai) [2]
Myanmar Thoo-gnaichay [2]
Vietnam Du[oo]i ch[oo]n [2]

Geographical Distributions

Helicteres isora is distributed from India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka through Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, In­do-China, Malaysia and Indonesia to Southern China and Northern Australia. It is occasionally grown in Java. [2]

H. isora is a gregarious species com­mon in evergreen forests and secondary jungles along roads and forest edges. In Java, H. isora is found in relatively dry areas up to 300 m altitude, the habitats including teak forests, brushwoods and roadsides. In Thailand, it is found in deciduous for­ests and scrub areas. [2]

Botanical Description

H. isora is a member of the family Sterculiaceae. It is a shrub or small tree that can grow up to 2-4(-8) m tall. Its bark is finely wrinkled, lenticellate and pale. All young parts are often densely clothed with long, yellowish and stellate hairs. [2]

The leaves are simple and arranged in two vertical rows. The stipules are slender, measure 3-10 mm long and caducous. The petiole is up to 4 cm long. The blade is rounded to obovate, measuring 5-21 cm x 3-18 cm, and with rounded to subcordate base but sometimes oblique. The margins are irregularly serrate, with rounded to acuminate apex, palmately 3-5-veined and sometimes slightly lobed near the apex. They are variably covered with simple and stellate hairs, often densely on the underside. [2]

The inflorescence is an axillary fascicle of usually 2(-5)-flowered cymes with small, sessile and basal glands. The peduncle is 2-5 mm long, and with linear bracts 3-5 mm long. The flowers are bisexual, irregular, about 2.5 cm in diametre and fra­grant. The pedicel is up to 1 cm long. The bracteoles are linear. The sepal is 1-2 cm long, tubular, yellow, and with 5 triangu­lar and unequal lobes. The 2 inferior lobes are connate al­most to the apex while the 3 superior lobes are separated. There are 5 petals which are unequal, clawed, 3-4 cm long and bluish at anthesis but turn bright red. The 2 broader low­er petals measuring about 3 cm x 1.5 cm with a short claw is winged or widened towards the apex while the 3 upper petals are narrower, measuring about 1 cm x 0.5 cm, and with a claw up to 2.5 cm long which is auricled near the apex. [2]

The gynandrophore is 3-6 cm long with red apical glands. The staminal tube is 2.5 mm long, making an angle of 90° with gynandrophore, ter­minated by 10 stamens (filaments connate in low­er 2/3) and, more inwardly inserted and often hid­den by the stamens. There are 5 staminodes altogether. The filaments are short, and with 2-celled anther which are parallel to each other. The pis­til is with a 5-celled, red-glandular ovary, and 5 sub­connate short styles. [2]

The fruit which is 4-8 cm long consists of 5 twisted follicles. Each follicle is about 20-25-­seeded. The seed is angular-subrhomboid, measuring about 2.5 mm x 1.5 mm x 2.7 mm, finely warty, smooth and dark brown. [2]


H. isora is preferred to grow on fertile soils rich in humus where in sandy and lateritic soils, the plants are stunted, much branched, and with a very thin bark. In Hainan (China), H. isora is a common weed in sown pastures. [2]

Chemical Constituent

No documentation

Plant Part Used

No documentation

Traditional Use

No documentation

Preclinical Data

No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of H. isora [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Helicteres isora L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mac 23; cited 2015 June 12]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2843218
  2. Helicteres isora L. In: Hitchcock M, editor. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 17: Fibre plants. Leiden, Netherlands, Backhuys Publishers; 2007.
  3. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 2. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR; 2002. p. 8-9.
  4. Quattrocchi U. CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume III E-L. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press; 2012. p.440-441.