Polyalthia longifolia (Sonn.) Thwaites

Last updated: 21 October 2016

Scientific Name

Polyalthia longifolia (Sonn.) Thwaites


Guatteria longifolia (Sonn.) Wall., Unona longifolia (Sonn.) Dunal, Uvaria longifolia Sonn. Uvaria altissima Pennant [Illegitimate]   , Unona altissima Russell ex Wall. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Mempisang [2]
English Green champa, Indian mast tree [2]; mast tree, cemetry tree, fake asoka tree, false devadaru [3][4]
India Debdari, asoka (Hindi); assoti (Kannada); aranamaram (Malayalam); ulkatah, kastadaruh (Sanskrit); asogu, nettilingam (Tamil); asokamu (Telagu) [3][4]

Geographical Distributions

Polyalthia longifolia is native to southern India and Sri Lanka; planted in Southeast Asia, e.g. in Peninsular Malaysia and Java. [3][4]

Botanical Description

P. longifolia is a member of Annonaceae family. P. longifolia is a small to medium-sized tree up to 25 m tall, with a straight hole, dense crown and hairless twigs. [2]

The leaves are ovate-oblong to narrowly lance-shaped, 11-22 cm x 2-4.5(-6) cm, wedge-shaped to rounded at base, wavy at margins, membranous and 4-8 mm long petiole. [2]

The flowers are in axils of leaves or fallen leaves and usually numerous. The petals are narrowly lance-shaped, up to 1.2 cm long and greenish-yellow. The monocarps are nearly globular to ovoid, 2-2.5 cm long while the stalk is 8-12 mm long and 1-seeded. [2]


P. longifolia is planted as an ornamental, roadside and shade tree, sometimes in lower montane forest, up to 1200 m altitude. [2]

Chemical Constituent

The stem bark of P. longifolia has been reported to contain clerodane diterpenes, polyalthialdoic acid and kolavenic acid, cytotoxic aporphine alkaloid, liriodenine, besides nor-oliveroline and oliveroline-beta-N-oxide and azafluorene alkaloids. [4]

Plant Part Used

Bark. [3]

Traditional Use

The bark is bitter, acrid, cooling, febrifuge and anthelmintic. It is useful in fever, skin diseases, diabetes, hypertension and helminthiasis. [3]

Preclinical Data


Cytotoxic activity

P. longifolia has been reported to showed potential treatment of various human cancers. The aporphine alkaloid liriodenine is one of the compounds isolated from the stem and stem bark of P. longifolia which showed cytotoxic activities. [5] Studies have reported that another group of compounds of the clerodane diterpene group (polyalthialdoic acid, kolavenic acid and 16a-hydroxy-cleroda-3,13(14)Z-dien-15,16-olide, (-)-3alpha,16alpha-dihydroxycleroda-4(18),13(14)Z-dien-15,16-olide, (-)-3beta,16alpha-dihydroxycleroda-4(18), 13(14)Z-dien-15,16-olide) also showed cytotoxic activities in three human tumour cell lines. [6] Studies have reported that amongst the human cancer cell lines tested P. longifolia was found that the maximum inhibition was seen in colon cancer cells SW-620. [7]

Studies have reported that the clerodane diterpenoids isolated from bark of P. longifolia exhibited significant cytotoxic activity towards Hep G2 and Hep 3B hepatoma cell lines. In another study the methanol extract of the stem showed antiproliferative activities against A549 and MCF-7 cancer cells. Amongst the substances tested it was found that 16-oxo-cleroda-3,13-dien-15-09c acid was the one exhibiting cytotoxicity. [8]

Antimicrobial activity


P. longifolia has been reported to showed significant antibacterial activties and amongst the alkaloids isolated from it. It was found that pendulamine A and pendulamine B were the most active antibacterial compounds with MIC ranging from 0.02–20 µg against the tested bacteria. [9] From the stem a lactone (3S,4R)-3,4,5-trihydroxypentanoic acid-1,4-lactone) was isolated which showed promising antibacterial activity against thirteen Gram-positive and nine Gram-negative organism. [10] The diterpenoids 16α-hydroxy-cleroda-3,13 (14)-Z-diene-15,16-olide (1) and 16-oxo-cleroda-3, 13(14)-E-diene-15-oic acid (2), isolated from the hexane extract of the seeds of P. longifolia, demonstrated significant antibacterial and antifungal activities. [11] Studies have reported that from the methanol extracts of various parts of the plants it was found that 5 clerodanes and one diterpenoid (16(R and S)-hydroxy-cleroda-3,13(14)Z-dien-15,16-olide, 16-oxo-cleroda-3,13(14)E-dien-15-oic acid, (R and S)-hydroxy-cleroda-3,13(14)Z-dien-15,16-olide-2-one,(4-->2)-abeo-16(R and S)-hydroxy-cleroda-2,13(14)Z-dien-15,16-olide-3-al3β,16α-dihydroxy-cleroda-4(18), 13(14)Z-dien-15,16-olide, and kolavenic acid) were the most active antimicrobial agnets with MIC values ranging from 7.8 and 500 µg/mL. [12] Studies have reported that (-)-16α-hydroxycleroda-3,13 (14)Z-dien-15,16-olide was isolated from the ethanolic extracts of the leaves was found to be the most potent of the compounds isolated with MIC value of 6.25 µg/mL against Streptococcus aureus and Sporothrix schenckii. [13]

Antileishmanial activity

P. longifolia has been reported that 16α-Hydroxycleroda-3,13 (14)Z-dien-15,16-olide (Compound 1) from P. longifolia was found to be a potential antileishmanial and non-cytotoxic, as evidenced by long-term survival (>6 months) of treated animals. Studies have reported that compound 1 inhibited recombinant DNA topoisomerase I which, ultimately induced apoptosis. Five strong hydrogen-bonding interactions and hydrophobic interactions of compound 1 with L. donovani DNA topoisomerase are responsible for its anti-leishmanial activity. [14]

Anti-inflammatory activity

P. longifolia has been reported that various concentrations of the methanolic extracts has significant anti-inflammatory. P. longifolia has been reported that 23 compounds isolated from the bark, 5 compound showed a potent anti-inflammatory activity towards formyl-L-methionyl-L-leucyl-L-phenylalanine/cytochalasin B (fMLP/CB)-induced superoxide generation by neutrophils with IC50 = 0.60 +/- 0.09 µg/mL. [15][16]

Hepatoprotective activity

Studies have reported that the methanolic extract of the leaves of P. longifolia has hepatoprotective effect but no concentration effect. [16]

Antineurotoxicity activity

P. longifolia has been reported that the effects of 6-hydroxycleroda-3,13-dien-15,16-olid (PL3) on lipopolysachharide(LPS)-induced inflammation in microglia-like HAPI cells and primary microglia cultures. It was found that PL3 was able to decrease the expression of iNOS, COX-2, gp91 (phox), and NF-kappaBp65, the degradation of I kappaB alpha, and the production of NO, PGE(2), iROS, and TNF-alpha. It also enhanced the expression of HO-1, a cytoprotective and anti-inflammatory enzyme. In addition to this it also reduced LPS-activated inflammation-related neuronal cell death. They concluded that this compound would be use in the treatment of inflammation-related neurodegenerative diseases. [17]

Antiulcer activity

P. longifolia has been reported that for its anti-ulcer activity against aspirin plus pylotus ligation induced gastric ulcer in rats, HCL-Ethanol induced ulcer in mice and water immersion stress induced ulcers in rats. Studies have reported that P. longifolia has significant anti-ulcer activity was observed in all models. [18]

Hypotensive activity

P. longifolia has been reported to have significant ability to reduce blood pressure to the tune of 22% and 47% fall in mean arterial blood pressure in rats at doses of 3 mg/kg and 30 mg/kg respectively. It was found that the compound kolavenic acid was responsible for this effect. The whole extract also decrease the blood pressure of normotensive and egg yolk induced hypertensive rats. The LD50 of the root extract was 100 mg/kg in mice. [19]


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation

Side effects

No documentation

Interaction & Depletion

Interaction with drug

Studies have reported that root bark of P. longifolia has significant hypotensive activity. It should not be used with antihypertensive medication. [19]

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of P. longifolia [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Polyalthia longifolia. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 May 27]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2407957
  2. Lemmens RHMJ, Bunyapraphatsara N, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia 12(3): Medicinal and poisonous plants 3. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publishers; 2003.
  3. Warrier PK, Nambiar VPK, Ramankutty C. Indian medicinal plants: A compendium of 500 species. Volume 5. Chennai: Orient Longman, 2002; p. 444
  4. Khare CP. Indian medicinal plants: An illustrated dictionary. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2007; p. 505.
  5. Wu YC, Duh CY, Wang SK, Chen KS, Yang TH. Two new natural azafluorene alkaloids and a cytotoxic aporphine alkaloid from Polyalthia longifolia. J Nat Prod. 1990;53(5):1327-1231.
  6. Zhao GX, Jung JH, Smith DL, Wood KV, McLaughlin JL. Cytotoxic clerodane diterpenes from Polyalthia longifolia. Planta Med. 1991;57(4):380-383.
  7. Verma M, Singh SK, Bhushan S, et al. In vitro cytotoxic potential of Polyalthia longifolia on human cancer cell lines and induction of apoptosis through mitochondrial-dependent pathway in HL-60 cells. Chem Biol Interact. 2008;171(1):45-56.
  8. Lee TH, Wang MJ, Chen PY, et al. Constituents of Polyalthia longifolia var. pendula. J Nat Prod. 2009;72(11):1960-1963.
  9. Faizi S, Khan RA, Azher S, Khan SA, Tauseef S, Ahmad A. New antimicrobial alkaloids from the roots of Polyalthia longifolia var. pendula. Planta Med. 2003;69(4):350-355.
  10. Faizi S, Mughal NR, Khan RA, et al. Evaluation of the antimicrobial property of Polyalthia longifolia var. pendula: Isolation of a lactone as the active antibacterial agent from the ethanol extract of the stem. Phytother Res. 2003;17(10):1177-1181.
  11. Marthanda MM, Subramanyam M, Hima Bindu M, Annapurna J. Antimicrobial activity of clerodane diterpenoids from Polyalthia longifolia seeds. Fitoterapia. 2005;76(3-4):336-339.
  12. Faizi S, Khan RA, Mughal NR, Malik MS, Sajjadi KE, Ahmad A. Antimicrobial activity of various parts of Polyalthia longifolia var. pendula: isolation of active principles from the leaves and the berries. Phytother Res. 2008;22(7):907-912.
  13. Sashidhara KV, Singh SP, Shukla PK. Antimicrobial evaluation of clerodane diterpenes from Polyalthia longifolia var. pendula. Nat Prod Commun. 2009;4(3):327-330.
  14. Misra P, Sashidhara KV, Singh SP, et al. 16alpha-Hydroxycleroda-3,13 (14)Z-dien-15,16-olide from Polyalthia longifolia: A safe and orally active antileishmanial agent. Br J Pharmacol. 2010;159(5):1143-1150.
  15. Chang FR, Hwang TL, Yang YL, et al. Anti-inflammatory and cytotoxic diterpenes from formosan Polyalthia longifolia var. pendula. Planta Med. 2006;72(14):1344-1347.
  16. Tanna A, Nair R, Chanda S. Assessment of anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective potency of Polyalthia longifolia var. pendula leaf in Wistar albino rats. J Nat Med. 2009;63(1):80-85.
  17. Shih YT, Hsu YY, Chang FR, Wu YC, Lo YC. 6-Hydroxycleroda-3,13-dien-15,16-olide protects neuronal cells from lipopolysaccharide-induced neurotoxicity through the inhibition of microglia-mediated inflammation. Planta Med. 2010;76(2):120-127.
  18. Malairajan P, Gopalakrishnan G, Narasimhan S, Veni KJ. Evalution of anti-ulcer activity of Polyalthia longifolia (Sonn.) Thwaites in experimental animals. Indian J Pharmacol. 2008;40(3):126-128.
  19. Saleem R, Ahmed M, Ahmed SI, et al. Hypotensive activity and toxicology of constituents from root bark of Polyalthia longifolia var. pendula. Phytother Res. 2005;19(10):881-884.