Phyllagathis rotundifolia (Jack) Blume

Last updated: 21 June 2017

Scientific Name

Phyllagathis rotundifolia (Jack) Blume


Phyllagathis decipiens, Phyllagathis praetermissa, Melastoma rotundifolium [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Akar serau malam, bawal hutan, seri bulan (Peninsular) [2]
Indonesia Tapak gajah, tapak liman, tapak sulaiman, tapak tangan. [3]

Geographical Distributions

Phyllagathis rotundifolia is found in Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra. [2]

Botanical Description

P. rotundifolia is a member of the Melastomaceae family. It is essentially a creeping plat with short stem. [3]

The leaves are suborbicular to obovate-cordate (roundish heart shaped), 7.5-15 cm x 6-11 cm. The leaf is covered with fine hairs, the tip is blunt and shining dark green above and reddish below. The petiole is 5-10 cm long. [2][3]

The inflorescence is head-like, compact, shortly stalked and surrounded by 4 large cordate or kidney-shaped involucral bracts. [2]


P. rotundifolia is common in lowland forest. [2]

Chemical Constituent

P. rotundifolia has been reported to contain compound identified as prunasin 2',6'-di-O-gallate (3), prunasin 3',6'-di-O-gallate (4), prunasin 4',6'-di-O-gallate (5), prunasin 2',3',6'-tri-O-gallate (6), prunasin 3',4',6'-tri-O-gallate (7), and prunasin 2',3',4',6'-tetra-O-gallate (8) oct-1-en-3-yl α-arabinofuranosyl-(1-->6)-β-glucopyranoside (9). prunasin (1), gallic acid β-glucogallin, 3,6-di-O-galloyl-D-glucose, 1,2,3,6-tetra-O-galloyl-β-D-glucose, strictinin, 6-O-galloyl-2,3-O-(S)-hexahydroxydiphenoyl-D-glucose, praecoxin B, and pterocarinin C. [4]

Plant Part Used

Leaves and roots [4][5]

Traditional Use

Gasrointestinal Diseases

The plant is used in the treatment of stomach-ache. To treat heartburn, the leaves are pounded and the paste is applied over the affected area. [3][4]


P. rotundifolia is a remedy for fever in children and also for malaria. It is mentioned that for fever in children either a decoction of the leaves is given or the child is laid over a bed of leaves of the plant. [4][5]

Obstetrics and Gynaecology

The Malays believed that the plant has similar properties of the village “tutup bumi” (Elephantopus scaber) and used them interchangeably in postpartum therapy. A decoction of the whole plant is given to women immediately after birth to hasten the process of delivery of the placenta. It is also believed that it is able to cleanse the uterus of residual blood. Roots pounded with belts are given after child-birth as tonic. [6]

Preclinical Data


Contraceptive activity

P. rotundifolia formed part of a contraceptive herbal formulation used by the Temuan tribe of Peninsula Malaysia. It was found that this combination caused an ovulatory oestrous cycle with altered circulating hormone levels and foetal resorption in rats. Mohd. Nazrul demonstrated that this could be due in part to suppression of the production of gonadotrophins along with suppression of FSH cell activity. They found that P. rotundifolia by itself could significantly lower the FSH concentration. [6]


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation


No documentation

Side effects

No documentation

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

Caution should be exercised when taking preparations containing this plant during pregnancy. Its use as part of the ingredients in potherb given during the immediate post-partum period may be due to its oxytocic effects. [6]

Age limitation

No documentation

Adverse reaction

No documentation

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation


No documentation

Line drawing


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


  1. Catalogue of Life. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World. Phyllagathis rotundifolia (Jack) Blume. K.M.Wong & Sugumaran. [homepage on the Internet]. c2015 [updated 2017 Apr 14; cited 2017 June 21] Available from:
  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. Muhamad Z, Mohamed MA. Traditional Malay medicinal plants. Kuala Lumpur: Penerbit Fajar Bakti Sdn. Bhd; 1994.
  4. Ling SK, Tanaka T, Kouno I. New cyanogenic and alkyl constituents from Phyllagathis rotundifolia. J Nat Prod. 2002;65(2):131-135
  5. Vardhana R. Floristic plants of the world. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons, 2006; p. 657
  6. Islam MN, Sulaiman SA, Marina YK, Sahil Jamallullail SM. Effects of an indigenous contraceptive herbal formulation on gonadotrophs of the pituitary gland of the rat Malaysian. J Med Sci. 2007;14(1):23–27.