Marantodes pumilum (Blume) Kuntze

Last updated: 1 December 2014

Scientific Name

Marantodes pumilum (Blume) Kuntze


Labisia pumila (Blume) Fern.-Vill, Labisia pumila (Blume) Mez [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Akar fatimah, belangkas hutan, bunga belangkas hutan, hati fatimah, kacip fatimah, kunci fatimah, mata pelanduk rimba, pokok pinggang, rumput siti fatimah, rumput tadah matahari, rumput palis, sanggul selusoh, selusoh fatimah, remoyan batu (jah-hut); sangkoh (Iban) [2]
Indonesia Kelimparan tuli (Belitung); udu mudung bio' (Kenyah, East Kalimantan). [2]

Geographical Distributions

Marantodes pumilum isnaturally distributed in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indochina. This plant is widely grown in tropical forests in the lowlands or hills at an altitude of 150 m above sea level. [3]

Botanical Description

M. pumilum is the plant species from Primulaceae (known as Myrsinaceae before) family [1][4][5][6]. M. pumilum is a small shrub, erect and ascending undershrub that can grow from 30 cm to 50 cm tall [4][7]. It is an herbaceous shrub with creeping rhizome [5][7].

The stem is unbranched and erects [8][9]. The stem colour is dark brown with distinct scars of fallen leaves. The nodes of the stem are capable of rooting [5][6].

The leaves are arranged alternate, usually 4-12 blades. Leaf simple, elliptic-lanceolate shaped, with a size of (8-)15-25 cm x (2.5-)5-7 cm [7][8]. Pointed shape at the tip of leaf and tapered base [8]. Variably lepidotes are present below the leaves [7]. The colour is dark green on adaxial and lighter green abaxial [8]. When young the leaves are blackish green and crenate pink edges [6]. The margin is slightly toothed or crenulate. The petiole measure 2-8 cm and may reach up to 12 cm long, the leaf-blade extending to the petiole and form a broad or narrow wing [4][8].

The inflorescence is an axillary panicle of small cluster, ferrugineously puberulous, measuring 6-30 cm long [7][8]. The peduncle is pubescent and reddish brown in colour [4]. The flower is small, pink or white in colour and more than 10 flowers per inflorescence. The calyx combines at the base with peduncle to form a short tube, cilia present. The corolla valvate, wrapped round enclosing the stamen


[4][7]. The stamens are opposite the petals while the anthers are sessile. The 1-celled ovary is superior while the style is slender [7].

The fruit is round, 0.5-0.8 cm in diametre, colours bright red or purple. [4][8]

This plant consists of three original varieties that are Labisia pumila var. alata, Labisia pumila var. lanceolata and the typical variety Labisia pumila var. pumila. These three varieties can be distinguished based on their shape of lamina and petiole. Labisia pumila var. alata is the species that is more preferred by the researcher and medicinal practitioner as medicinal plant compared to the other two varieties. [4]


Soil Suitability and Climate Requirement

M. pumilum or 'Kacip Fatimah' thrives in shady places, normally as undergrowth in the forests. Thus the environment for the commercial production of M. pumilum must have good shade (about 80%) and moist. The production area must be well drained and contains high organic matter content. [9]


Figure 1: M. pumilum plants. [9]
Figure 2: The fruits of M. pumilum. [9]

Field Preparation

Land Preparation

For commercial planting, it is recommended to be planted under field nursery production system. The structure uses black plastic netting for shade. The planting media to be used should contain high organic matter contents and well drained. A combination of soil, organic compost and sand should be used. Cocopeat could be used as the mulch to be applied on the soil surface to conserve moisture. [9]

Production of Planting Materials

Presently, the planting materials used in the production of M. pumilum are collected from the wild.  For commercial planting the plant can be propagated by using stem cuttings. The cuttings should be kept under shade and moist conditions. The cuttings are ready for transplanting to polybags after 12 to 14 weeks and subsequently for field planting after another 14 to 16 weeks. [9]


Figure 3: Propagation of M. pumilum by using stem cuttings. [9]
Figure 4: M. pumilum seedlings ready for field planting. [9]

Field Planting

M. pumilum is very sensitive to temperature and water stress. Thus production area should be maintained with moisture and plenty of shade. It is also sensitive to water-logging and thus it is best to plant the herb on beds. Cocopeat should be used as the mulch to apply on the surface of the bed to conserve moisture. The recommended planting density is 24,000/ha. One hectare of space can accommodate 6 units of shade structure measuring by 30 m X 60 m. [9]


Figure 5: Planting of M. pumilum under shade [9].

Field Maintenance


Applying rock phosphate as basal fertiliser in the planting hole at early stage of planting could encourage the better growth of the plant. Organic fertiliser such as processed chicken dung at the rate of 100 g/plant should be given at timeframes of 3, 6 and 9 months after planting. [9]

Weed Control

Weed is not a problem if the mulch such as cocopeat is used. If there is a need, the weeds should be removed manually. [9]

Water Management

M. pumilum needs optimum water supply to grow well. The recommended irrigation system to be used for M. pumilum is either micro sprinkler or mist systems. These systems are easy to handle, cheap and does not need a large water source. At early stage of planting (1-3 months), water twice daily is must but gradually decrease after 4-12 months after planting to once a fortnight intervals. [9]

Pest and Disease Control

Presently, M. pumilum cultivation does not face many pests and disease problems. However, close monitoring should be made for the presence of diseases such as fungus since the growing environment is always wet and moist. [9]


Usually the whole plant is harvested when collection are made from the wild. However for commercial production, only the leaves and the stem are harvested after 12 months of planting. It is estimated that about 200-300 g/plant of fresh materials can be harvested at 12 months after planting. Subsequent harvesting can be done at 3 months intervals (for fresh leaves production). [9]

Postharvest Handling

After harvesting, the herb has to be dried as soon as possible to maintain the quality. For small scale cultivation, the herb can be air dried or under rain-shelter. For long storage the herbs should be dried up to less than 12 % moisture content by using commercial drying oven. [9]

Estimated Cost Of Production

The estimated production cost per hectare of Kacip Fatimah under field nursery production is about RM45,000. This is based on the assumption that the shade structures will last for 5 years. Based on the fresh yield at 6,000 kg/ha, the cost of production for a kilogram of fresh M. pumilum is RM7.50. The production cost was estimated based on the cost of current inputs during writing of this article. [9]

Chemical Constituent

Methanol extracts of the roots of L. pumila var. alata (M. pumilum variety) has been found to contain flavonoids (e.g. kaempferol, myricetin, naringin and rutin) and other phenolics (e.g. gallic acid and pyrogallol) [10].

Dichloromethane extract of the roots of L. pumila var. alata has been found to contain (Z)-5-(pentadec-4’-enyl)benzene-11,3-diol, (Z)-5-(pentadec-8’-enyl)benzene-1,3-diol and (Z)-5-(pentadec-10’-enyl)benzene-1,3-diol [11].

Plant Part Used

Leaves, roots, and whole plants. [8][12][13]

Traditional Use

M. pumilum has been universally used to treat women’s conditions [12]. The plant is also used for firming and toning of abdominal muscles, assist women to achieve fuller and firmer breasts and to tighten vaginal muscles, helps to reduce or eliminate painful and difficult menstruation and even to treat dysentery, rheumatism and women’s ailments associated with childbirth, sensational plant which caters to any woman’s need [8][9][14]. Sometimes, it is also used to treat cases of gonorrhoea [4].

Its native habitat is amongst most of the ethnic population. It has been advocated in the relief of dysmenorrhoea and also labour pains. In a decoction form of the roots it is given as a delivery aid to ease the process of delivery and in the postnatal period given to help in the healing process of delivery related internal injuries. [4]

It has been used to treat abdominal distension in infants. This is done by crushing the leaves in coconut oil and subsequently applying this oil over the abdomen [15]. Other uses include the use in treatment of sickness in the bones and rheumatism [16]. Traditionally, the water decoction of the root or whole plant of M. pumilum are consumed by the Malay pregnant women between one and two months before she is due to give birth for induction and facilitation of labour [12][17]. The plant is also used in postpartum medication as mixed preparation to help contract the birth canal, to delay fertility and to regain body strength [18]. Its other folkloric uses include treatment of flatulence [16].

Preclinical Data


Antioxidant activity

M. pumilum extract showed strong antioxidant activity with 50% free radical scavenging activity (FSC50) of 0.006% (60.82±3.10 µg/mL) which was comparable to that produced by 156 μM ascorbic acid (27.62±1.05 µg/mL) using 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) scavenging activity [18]. In a study of two of the three varieties of M. pumilum known as Labisia pumila var. alata (LPvA) and Labisia pumila var. pumila, it was found that L. pumila var. alata had a higher antioxidant activity than the var. pumila [19].    

Antiphotoaging activity 

M. pumilum extract showed significant dose dependent recovery on ultraviolet-B (UVB) induced irradiation of human dermal fibroblast cell viability using Thiazolyl Blue Tetrazolium Blue (MTT) assay. The extract inhibited tumour necrotic factor (TNF)-α expression in immortalized human keratonocytes (HaCaT) cells while reducing the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression in UVB-induced irradiation of normal human skin keratinocytes. The extract also recovered the type 1 pro-collagen expression while down-regulated the matrix metallanoproteinase (MMP)-1 expression in UVB-irradiated human dermal fibroblast. MMP-9 expression in UVB induced irradiation of normal human epidermal keratinocytes was also decreased. [18]

Oestrogenic activity 

Aqueous extracts of M. pumilum variety (L. pumila var. alata (LPvA)) showed significant dose-dependent reduction in the body weight while increase significantly in dose-dependent the uterus weight of ovariectomized (OVX) Sprague Dawley rats comparable to OVX rats treated with Oestrogen Replacement Therapy (ERT). The extracts significantly increase the mRNA and plasma leptin but reduce the mRNA level in adipose tissue. Both ERT and LPvA reduced the plasma resistin levels in OVX-rats when compared to Sham group but no difference in adiponectin level of was observed in all groups. [20]

The extracts also increase the uterus weight (27%) and plasma resistin of nonaromatizable dihydrotestosterone (DHT)-induced Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Wistar rats. The LPva decreased leptin mRNA expression in adipose tissue but did not affect expression of resistin and adiponectin. No effects on body composition, adipocyte size, or plasma leptin levels were observed but lipid total cholesterol and triglycerides level was decreased. [21]

Anti-obesity activity 

Aqueous extracts of LPvA is able to regulate body weight and adipokines in OVX rats. Treatment with LPvA showed a reduction in weight gain in the OVX rats. It also increased the plasma leptin levels and the mRNA expression of leptin. The plasma resistin level was in reduced. These effects are secondary to its oestrogenic activities. [20] 

Antidiabetic activity 

LPva increased insulin sensitivity when administered orally to (DHT)-induced Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Wistar rats. At the same time the lipid profile was also improved. The mechanism of this is yet to be determined. [21]

Antiangiogenesis activity

Methanol extract of M. pumilum significantly restrain the rat aorta endothelial vasculature using 5-day ex-vivo rat aortic arch ring assay from 20 weeks old male Sprague Dawley rat. This suggests M. pumilum has the potential to prevent tumour development through endothelial vasculature development cascade making it a promising candidate as an anticancer agent. [22]


A 28 days subacute toxicity study was done to determine the safety of use of M. pumilum. The results showed that at a dose of 50 mg/kg there were no adverse effects detected. However, at higher doses there were some associated toxicity concerns. [23] 

Genotoxicity study of M. pumilum was done using micronuclei formation as the toxicological endpoints. No significant increase in the micronucleated polychromatic erythrocyte was observed at all tested dose levels (100, 700 and 2000 mg/kg body weight). However, it was noted that there was a significant decrease in the polychromatic erythrocytes/normochromatic erythrocytes (PCE:NCE) ratio from the highest dose level (2000 mg/kg of body weight) at 48 h harvest time point. [24]

Aqueous extract of M. pumilum studied on female reproductive toxicity showed a non-observable adverse effect level at 800 mg/kg/day. At this level there were not alterations in the general health and the oestrus cycle of the rats, they mated and became pregnant normally, gestation period was reduced to 21 days however there were no evidence of prematurity nor abortion occurred, and no foetal resorption occurred at any time during the test period. This indicates that at 800 mg/kg/day the aqueous extra of M. pumilum is considered safe for pregnant rats to consume. [16]

Aqueous extract of M. pumilum (1,000 mg/kg/day) was evaluated for teratogenicity. It was found that at all levels of doses no teratogenic effects were detected. Gravid uterine weight, number of corpora lutea, number of implantation sites and percentage of foetal resorptions, number of life foetuses, foetal weight and foetal sex ratio showed no significant differences among all group animals. Although considered statistically insignificant, an increase in body weight of pregnant animals was observed. [25] 

Petroleum-ether extracts of M. pumilum showed significant damage in the liver and kidneys of rats in a progressive manner. Subcutaneous injection of the extract were given to three groups of rats in doses of 0.1 mg/mL, 0.05 mg/mL and 0.025 mg/mL respectively and histological examinations of the liver was done in these rats that were sacrificed on day 1, day 3 and day 7 post injection. It was found that histological evidence of liver damage was seen from day 1 with worsening of condition subsequently. Glomerulonephritis and nephrosis was demonstrated in the kidneys. This indicates that M. pumilum does contain hepatotoxic and nephrotoxic elements in them. [26]

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

Clinical studies have been conducted using whole plant water extracts of M. pumilum which is produced by patented technology. However, none is available for the root extract. Based on the clinical and laboratory evidence, daily intake of this herb’s water extract up to 560mg/day for 6 months was found to be safe and no adverse effect was documented [27].  

A study to investigate the effect of M. pumilum on menopausal symptoms, cardiovascular risk factors, and hormonal profiles in Malay post-menopausal women, showed that water extracts of M. pumilum were able to displace estradiol binding to antibodies raised against estradiol, making it similar to other estrogens such as estrone and estradiol. This study concluded that daily intake of M. pumilum at 280 mg/day for 6 months was found to provide benefit in reducing the triglyceride (TG) values. Thus, it may be a useful phytosupplement for maintaining cardiovascular health in menopausal women. There is no effect of M. pumilum on the menopausal symptoms and hormonal profiles in the post-menopausal women might due to the small sample size. [28]


Avoid use if there is a known allergy or hypersensitivity to any of the components of M. pumilum. [29]

Side effects

The fresh plant of M. pumilum (leaf and root) can cause contact dermatitis to hypersensitive people. [30]

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women without supervision of a healthcare professional. Due to lack of clinical data, its utilization during pregnancy and lactation should be avoided. [29]

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

The plant contains iron and may provide additive adverse effects in patients being treated with iron supplements. The herb may have estrogen-like effects; avoid use in patients with estrogen-sensitive cancers or patients being treated with hormonal supplements. The herb also may have additive adverse effects if patients are being treated with cholesterol medications. [29]

Interaction with drug

No documentation.

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.


Avoid use if there is a known allergy or hypersensitivity to any of the components of L. pumila. [29]

Case Report

A patch test was carried out to observe the allergic reaction on a human body. A number of standard chemical reagents known to cause irritation and blistering of the skin as well as the leaf and root of M. pumilum were patched onto the skin. After 48h slight blisters were observed on patches containing nickel sulphate (5%) and M. root. The condition aggravated after 96h and slight blisters were also observed with the leaf. [30]


Dosage Range

No documentation.

Most Common Dosage

The herb, or formulation with other herbs, is available in many commercial products as a capsule, tea, or coffee, and as a canned beverage for human consumption. A pilot study documents dosages of up to 560 mg/day in postmenopausal women. Most commercial formulations are 154 mg capsules taken twice daily. [29]


No documentation.


No documentation.

Line drawing



Figure 6: Line drawing of M. pumilum. [4]


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