Caesalpinia pulcherrima (L.) Sw.

Last updated: 3 August 2016

Scientific Name

Caesalpinia pulcherrima (L.) Sw.


Caesalpinia pulcherrima var. flava Bailey & Rehder, Poinciana bijuga Lour., Poinciana bijuga Burm. f., Poinciana elata Lour., Poinciana pulcherrima L. [1]

Vernacular Name

Chana, jambul merak, semarak api, bunga merak [2]
Barbados pride, dwarf Poinciana, flamboyant tree, peacock flower, red bird of paradise. [2] peacock flower [3]
bunga merak, kembang merak, kembang patra. [3]
khwaang yoi(Eastern), som pho (Northern), hang nokyuung thai. (Central). [3]
Bulaklak ng paraiso (Tagalog), caballero (Tagalog, Sp) [3]
dok fang, kan gok meas, fang ham. [3]
di[eej]p ta, di[eej]p c[us]ng, kim ph[uw][owj]ng. [3]

Geographical Distributions

Caesalpinia pulcherrima originates in tropical America, and is now found throughout the tropics. Cultivated throughout South-East Asia and naturalized in some regions. [3]

Botanical Description

C. pulcherrima falls under the family of Leguminosae. It is a type of shrub or small tree that can grow up to 5m tall with unarmed branches with dew prickles. [3]

The leaves are 5-9 pinnate and 1-3cm long; leaflets in 5-12 pears, oblong, rounded and mucronate at the apex, glabrous, 1-2cm long and 5-8mm broad. [4]

The inflorescence are in terminal or upper axilla racemes. The flowers are yellow, red or orange. The bracts are linear-lanceolate, small and deciduous. The pedicels are slender with 4-8cm long and glabrous. The receptacle is broadly campanulate, 3mm long. The sepals are unequal, the inferior larger, 1.5cm long, cucullate in the bud, the 4 others are about 1cm long. The petals are unguiculate, about 2cm long, superior with longer claw and narrower lamen. The filaments elongated, about 6cm long. The ovary shortly stipitate and glabrous. [4]

The pod linear-oblong, shortly stipitate, acuminate, 8-12cm long and 2cm broad, with partitions between the seeds. [4]

The seeds are 6-8 ovate and compressed. [4]


No documentation

Chemical Constituent

Flavanoids isolated from the aerial part of C. pulcherrima are 5,7-dimethoxy-3’,4’-methylenedioxyflavanone, isobonducelin, 2’-hydroxy-2,3,4’,6’-tetra-methoxychalcone, 5,7-dimethoxyflavanone, homoisoflavanoid, bonducellin. [5]

Dichloomethane extract of air-dried leaves of C. pulcherrima yields caesaldekarin A, spathulenol, caryophyllene oxide, phytol, sitosterol, 2,3-disubstituted furan, mathine carbonyl, furanoid diterpenes, isovoucapenol, methylene carbonyl, dibenzoate, exocyclic methylene. [6]

Plant Part Used

Flowers, barks, leaves and roots. [2]

Traditional Use

In Southwest Africa the tea made from C. pulcherrima is used to treat gastritis and intestinal inflammation and also useful in diarrhea and dysentery. The Indians make use of the leaves to treat flatulence, aphthous ulcers and hepatitis. They make use of the fruits instead to treat diarrhea and dysentery [7][8].

The whole plant has emmenagogue property and various parts of C. pulcherrima had been advocated for use in treating menstrual problems. In India the leaves, bark and flowers has been given for uterine dysfunction. In the Amazon forest the roots were given to procure abortion as within the first trimester [7][8][9].

The flowers are used in the treatment of inflammatory conditions like infections, rheumatism and is useful in fever especially malaria, febrile fits in children, erysipelas and conjunctivitis. The juice of the flowers is a remedy for sores. The Indians make use of the flowers to treat bronchitis and asthma while to the Amazonians the seeds are given in bad cough, breathing difficulties and chest pains. The seeds can be used to treat gum complaints and ringworms. C. pulcherrima also makes good remedy for skin problems like rashes, bites and stings and irritation by poison ivy and chemicals [7][8][9].

Preclinical Data



Antibacterial and antifungal

The ethanol extract of the fruit exhibited a broad spectrum antibacterial activity especially against Escherichia coli, Proteus vulgaris, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. [10]

Four new cassane-type furanoditerpenoids isolated from leaves of C. pulcherrima were found to be active against S. aureus, E. coli, P. aeruginosa, Bacillus subtilis, Candida albicans and Trichophyton mentagrophytes. [11]

Two cassane-furanoditerpenoids (6 beta-benzoyl-7beta-hydroxyvouacapen-5 alpha-ol and 6beta-cinnamoyl-7beta-hydroxyvouacapen-5 alpha-ol) showed potent antitubercular activity with the latter being more effective. [12]


The aqueous extracts of various parts of C. pulcherrima showed significant inhibitory against ADV-8 virus. The strongest being the fruit and seed (EC50 = 41.2mg/L, SI = 83.2), followed by the stem and leaves (EC50 = 61.8 mg/L, SI = 52.1) and finally the flower (EC50 = 177.9mg/L, SI = 15.5). [13]

Antiplasmodial activity

The methanol and acetone extracts of C. pulcherrima leaves had showed significant antiplasmodial activity against Plasmodium falciparum. [14]

Cytotoxic activity

In a brine shrimp larvae test, it was found that methanol and aqueous extracts of the wood and methanol extract of aerial parts of C. pulcherrima were relatively toxic to the shrimp larvae. This cytotoxic activity was attributed to the high total phenolic content of the wood. [15] [16]

Two cassane-furanoditerpenoids (6 beta-benzoyl-7beta-hydroxyvouacapen-5 alpha-ol and 6beta-cinnamoyl-7beta-hydroxyvouacapen-5 alpha-ol) expressed moderate cytotoxic activity against KB (Human oral carcinoid cancer), BC (Human breast cancer) and NCI-H187 (Small cell lung cancer) cell lines. [12]

Anti-inflammatory activity

The ethanolic and aqueous extracts of the aerial parts of C. pulcherrima was subjected to anti-inflammatory studies. It was found that both extracts had significant anti-inflammatory activity as evidenced by a decrease in granuloma tissue development. Five flavonoids isolated from C. pulcherrima exhibited anti-inflammatory activities and these were 5,7-dimethoxyflavanone (1), 5,7-dimethoxy-3',4'-methylenedioxyflavanone (2), isobonducellin (3), 2'-hydroxy-2,3,4',6'-tetramethoxychalcone (4) and bonducellin. The order of the anti-inflammatory potency was 3>5>4>2>1. [17][18]

Antiulcer activity

The aqueous and ethanol extracts of C. pulcherrima was found to have the ability to decrease the ulcer score in two ulcer models (pylorus ligation and aspirin induced models). This indicate that both extracts have antiulcer activity and not ulcerogenic. [18]


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation


No documentation

Adverse reaction

C. pulcherrima contains a variety of tannins, flavonoid and diterpene compounds which are considered toxic and has been implicated as a cause of dermatitis and gastrointestinal irritation upon ingestion. However there are limited human data on the ingestion of the seeds or parts of the plant. The availability of tannin could possibly cause gastrointestinal irritation including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Severe symptoms are unusual and persistence of symptoms beyond 24 hour suggest another etiology. [18]


Dosage Range

No documentation

Poisonous Management

Toxic parts

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Caesalpinia pulcherrima (L.) Sw. [homepage on the Internet] c2013. [updated on 2010 Jul 14; cited on 2016 Apr 5]. Available from:
  2. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 1. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR, 2002; p. 130.
  3. Utomo BI. Caesalpinia pulcherrima (L.) Swartz In: van Valkenburg JLCH, Bunyapraphatsara N, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publishers, 2001; p. 86.
  4. Srinivas KV, Rao YK, Mahender I, Das B, Krishna KR, Kishore KH, Murty US. Flavanoids from Caesalpinia pulcherrima. Phytochemistry. 2003 Aug 31;63(7):789-93.
  5. Ragasa CY, Ganzon J, Hofileña J, Tamboong B, Rideout JA. A new furanoid diterpene from Caesalpinia pulcherrima. Chemical and pharmaceutical bulletin. 2003;51(10):1208-10.
  6. Wijayakusuma H. Ensiklopedia melenium: Bunga-bungaan PT. Prestasi Insan Indonesia Jakarta; 2000. p. 87.
  7. Kane CW. Herbal Medicine of the American Southwest: A Guide to the Identification, Collection, Preparation and Use of Medicinal and Edible Plants of the Southwestern. United States Lincoln Town Press; 2006. p. 23.
  8. Panda H. Medicinal plants cultivaton and their uses. National Institute of Industrial Research New Delhi; 2002. p. 510.
  9. Sudhakar M, Rao ChV, Rao PM, Raju DB, Venkateswarlu Y. Antimicrobial activity of Caesalpinia pulcherrima, Euphorbia hirta and Asystasia gangeticum. Fitoterapia. 2006;77(5):378-380.
  10. Ragasa CY, Hofileña JG, Rideout JA. New furanoid diterpenes from Caesalpinia pulcherrima. Journal of Natural Products. 2002;65(8):1107-1110.
  11. Promsawan N, Kittakoop P, Boonphong S, Nongkunsarn P. Antitubercular cassane furanoditerpenoids from the roots of Caesalpinia pulcherrima. Planta Medica. 2003;69(8):776-777.
  12. Chiang LC, Chiang W, Liu MC, Lin CC. In vitro antiviral activities of Caesalpinia pulcherrima and its related flavonoids. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2003;52(2):194-8.
  13. Venkatesalu V, Gopalan N, Pillai CR, et al. In vitro anti-plasmodial activity of some traditionally used medicinal plants against Plasmodium falciparum. Parasitol Res. 2012 Jan 31.
  14. Pawar CR, Mutha RE, Landge AD, Jadhav RB, Surana SJ. Antioxidant and cytotoxic activities of Caesalpinia pulcherrima wood. Indian J Biochem Biophys. 2009;46(2):198-200.
  15. Chanda S, Baravalia Y. Brine shrimp cytotoxicity of Caesalpinia pulcherrima aerial parts, antimicrobial activity and characterisation of isolated active fractions. Natural Product Research. 2011;25(20):1955-64.
  16. Roach JS, McLean S, Reynolds WF, Tinto WF. Cassane diterpenoids of Caesalpinia pulcherrima. Journal of Natural Products. 2003;66(10):1378-81.
  17. Sharma V, Rajani GP. Evaluation of Caesalpinia pulcherrima Linn. for anti-inflammatory and antiulcer activities. Indian J Pharmacol. 2011;43(2):168-171.
  18. Barceloux DG. Medical toxicology of natural substances. John Wiley & Sons Inc.; 2008. p. 479–480.