Goniothalamus macrophyllus (Blume) Hook.f. & Thomson

Last updated: 26 April 2016

Scientific Name

Goniothalamus macrophyllus (Blume) Hook.f. & Thomson


Goniothalamus forbesii Baker f. , Goniothalamus lanceolatus (Bân) Mat-Salleh [Illegitimate], Polyalthia macrophylla (Blume) Blume, Unona macrophylla Blume. [1]       

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Selada, selayar hitam gajah beranak, penawar hitam, lada hutan, gagang seteru(Malays); semeliok (Iban), kayu tapu, pelada, tunging, sagin wah, lidi ladak [2][3][4][5]
Brunei Limpanas putih, linpanas puteh, talipanas puteh (Sengkurong) [5]
Indonesia Ki cantung (Sundanese) [5]
Thailand Chin dok diao, rajchakru, kaa-yoh braa-noh, king dok dieo, khruu dam. [2][3][4]

Geographical Distributions

Goniothalamus macrophyllus is widely found in the Malaysian Peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak. G. macrophyllus is a shrub found in the rainforest of Peninsula Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak up to an altitude of 700 m above sea level. It is also found throughout Thailand, Borneo, Java and Sumatra. It usually grows at the riverbanks or wet sands and hill slopes, but always close to the river. It usually grows in the flatlands below the altitude of 700 m. [5]

Botanical Description

G. macrophyllus belongs to the genus Goniothalamus (family Annonaceae) [1].

The shrub can grow up to 5 m high with a relatively straight stem seldom seen to branch. The bark is black in colour and is aromatic. Leaves are oblong-lanceolate or oblong-oblanceolate measuring 22-30 cm. x 6-11 cm. The base is subacute to rounded with petiole 1-3 cm long. Apex is acute. The leaves are characteristically coriaceous, glabrous and placed alternately.

The flowers are solitary, axillary with pedicel measuring 1-1.2 cm long. It has 2-3 bracts at the base, sepals oblong-ovate to oblong-lanceolate, measures 1.5 cm long and purplish in colour. The outer petals are oblong-lanceolate measuring 3.3 cm long and almost glabrous, greenish in colour. The inner petals are rhomboid measuring 1.8 cm long with greenish in colour. The stamens are numerous, carpels 12-18, elongate, 6 mm long, glabrous, ovule 1; monocarp globose to ovoid, slightly apiculate, 1-2 cm x 1 cm, glabrous, sessile, red, 1-seeded. [2][3][4]


No documentation

Chemical Constituent

G. macrophyllus has been reported to contain aminonaphthoquinones: 2-methoxy-3-amino-5-hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone, 2-acetyl-3-amino-5-hydroxy-6-methoxy-1,4-naphthoquinone, 2-acetyl-3-amino-5-hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone [6]; monoterpenoids: terpinen-4-ol, 1,8-cineole, (Z)-β-ocimene, α-terpineol, geraniol and geranyl acetate. linalool, α-thujene and (E)-nerolidol [7][8]; styrylpyrones: goniothalamin, goniothalamin oxide, 8-chloro-8-deoxygoniodiol [7]; azaanthraquinone: dielsiquinone. [7] 

Plant Part Used

Leaves, barks, roots [2][3][4]

Traditional Use

The plant is used in the treatment of various forms of fever which included common colds, malaria and trypanosomiasis, typhoid fever. Amongst the Aborigines of Peninsula Malaysia, a decoction of the roots is used to treat common cold; while the mountain dwellers of Java used the infusion to treat typhoid fever. Amongst the Malays of Peninsula Malaysia the roots of the plant has been included as an ingredient in the pot herb given to women after delivery. It is believed that the addition of the roots of G. macrophyllus would provide the warming effects to the body of the mother. It is also believed that the roots would also help in rapid involution of the uterus. The decoction of the roots has been used to procure abortion by some unscrupulous village midwives. This is by virtue of the heatiness within it as claimed by those who used it for this purpose. The flower buds are also used in similar manner. [3] 

The stem in combination with roots of other plants is used to stimulate flow of menstruation. To improve his sexual power and general strength a tonic is prepared using the roots of Goniothalamus macrophyllus and Polyalthia bullata. In Brunei patients with febrile fits are treated by exposing them to smoke from the burning stem of this plant. [2][3] 

The petiole is chewed on to provide some tonic effects, maintain good health and relieve body aches. The Sakai tribes of the Malay Peninsula use this plant to nourish the blood and invigorate the body. [4] 

Fever is also treated by exposing the patient to steam bath with the leaves of this plant as one of the constituents. [2][3]

Wood of the plant is burnt as incense in the Andaman Islands and this smoke when inhaled is claimed to be good for asthma. The smoke is believed to be able to repel mosquitoes, snake and other wild animals. [3]

Preclinical Data


Abortifacient activity

G. macrophyllus and its major constituent goniothalamin oxide showed a dose-related embryotoxic effect and thus, are responsible for its abortifacient effects. Results obtained from in vitro experiments on isolated uterus preparation from both pregnant and non-pregnant rats and in vitro experiments on uterus contractions in rats in situ, showed that the extract lacks oxytocic effect. It has been concluded that the alleged abortifacient property is not mediated through oxytocin or oxytocic-like effect. However, teratogenic effects were evident in the mice on high doses. [9] The teratogenicity may be due to the cytotoxic effects of goniothalamin. This was found by a study using extracts from the stem barks of G. macrophyllus on KB cells. Hexane extracts were found to give 100% toxicity at a concentration of 50 mcg/mL abd 93% at 10 mcg/mL. [10]

Antimalarial activity

G. macrophyllus has shown good activity against Plasmodium falciparum in vitro. Fractions of the crude extract obtained by column chromatography showed 30% to 50% inhibition of beta haematin via the haem polymerization inhibitory assay (HPIA). This activity was similar to that observed with artemisinin. The extract appears to inhibit the polymerization of haematin into haemozoin. [11]

In a study of some Malaysian plants for their antiplasmodial properties it was found that the methanol extract of the stem of G. macrophyllus had good antiplasmodial activity against Plasmodium falciparum sensitive strain D10. It was found that it has more than 60% growth inhibition as a measure of antiplasmodial activity. [12]

In another study on antiplasmodial properties a compound found in G. macrophyllus i.e Goniothalamin was tested against two species of Plasmodia i.e. Plasmodium yoeii and Plasmodium berghei. It was found that when given individually Goniothalamin was able to provide the growth of P. berghei by less than 50% at all doses while those of P. yoeii between 27.8% and 18.5% with 30 mg/kg and 60 mg/kg respectively. However, it was found that when given in combination with chloroquin at 1 mg/kg there was a decrease in parasitaemina of P. yoeii by more than 90% and those of P. berghei by 60%. This shows that in combination with chloroquin the action of Goniothalamin is enhanced. [13]

Cytotoxic activity

Goniothalamin isolated from the roots of G. macrophyllus showed promising cytotoxic activities against (SRB assay) against colon cancer cell line , breast cancer cell lines and lung carcinoma. LDH assay of goniothalamin suggested that it had no toxicity on cell membrane. Cytotoxic evaluation of goniothalamin to normal cell revealed moderate toxicity against skin fibroblast and human fibroblast. [14]

The cytotoxicity of goniothalamin was found to be strong towards both cancerous, and non-cancerous cell lines, especially in cases of dividing cells. Drug exposure studies indicated that the cytotoxic action of goniothalamin was time and dose-dependent. At the ultrastructural level, goniothalamin-induced cytotoxicity revealed a necrotic mode of cell death towards MCF-7 cells. [15]



In a study to determine the genotoxicity of Goniothalamin, one of the bioactive compounds found in G. macrophyllus, it was found that Goniothalamin induce and enhance chromosome aberration. Chromatid and whole chromosome breaks/gaps, as well as interchanges, endoreduplications and ring chromosomes were the main types of aberration induced by Goniothalamin. The overall clastogenic effect of Goniothalamin was statistically significant. The investigators thus conclude that Goniothalamin is potentially a genotoxic or clastogenic substance without any anti-genotoxic properties. [16] 

Toxicological evaluation of Goniothalamin was done on rats. It was found that at the dose of 300 mg/day for 14 days where no evidence of toxicity was detected. [17]

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation

Side effects

No documentation

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

G. macrophyllus may have abortifacient and teratogenic effects. Although a similar effect has yet to be clinically proven in humans, G. macrophyllus should not be taken during pregnancy or by women who are trying to conceive. [18][19][20]


Dosage Range

No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of G. macrophyllus [5]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Goniothalamus macrophyllus (Blume) Hook.f. & Thomson. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Apr 26]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2829711
  2. Ridley HN. The flora of the Malay Peninsula. Volume 1: Polypetale. London: L. Reeve & Co., 1922; p. 66.
  3. Burkill IH. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Volume 1. London: Published on behalf of the governments of the Straits settlements and Federated Malay states by the Crown agents for the colonies, 1935; p. 1115.
  4. Mat-Salleh K, Latif A. Tumbuhan ubatan Malaysia. Selangor, Malaysia: Pusat Pengurusan Penyelidikan Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 2002; p. 114.
  5. van Valkenburg JLCH, De Padua LS, Bunyapraphatsara N, Lemmens RHMJ. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 2001; p. 282-285
  6. Sawitree Chaimanee, Uma Prawat. 3-Aminonaphthoquinones, Styrylpyrones and Azaanthraquinone from roots of Goniothalamus macrophyllus (Annonaceae). 3rd Congress on Science and Technology of Thailand. Phuket. Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Technology, Phuket Rajabhat University, Thailand. p. 1-2.
  7. Jantan I, Ahmad F, Din L. Chemical Constituents of the Bark Oil of Goniothalamus macrophyllus Hook. f. from Malaysia. J Essent Oil Res. 2005;17(2): 181-183
  8. Jantan I, Ahmad F, Ahmad AS. A comparative study of the essential oils of four Goniothalamus species. Acta Hortic. 2005; 3(677):27-36
  9. Razak DA, Gan EK, Mohamad M, et AL. Pharmacological evaluation of aqueous root extract of selayak hitam II: Teratogenic and possible abortifacient effect. Med J Malaysia. 1984;39(1):48-51.
  10. Hamid A, Hadi A, Awang K, Sevenet T. Cytoxicity of Goniothalamus macrophyllus extracts. 8th National Seminar and UNESCO Regional Workshop on Natural Products. 1991:57.
  11. Siti Najila MJ, Noor Rain A, Mohamad Kamel AG, et al. The Anti-Malarial Activity Of Plant Extracts: Elucidation of Its Mechanism of Action. International Conference On Traditional/Complimentary Medicine. Kuala Lumpur. 2002:40-41.
  12. Noor Rain A, Khozirah S, Mohd Ridzuan MA, et al. Antiplasmodial properties of some Malaysian medicinal plants. Trop Biomed. 2007;24(1):29-35.
  13. Mohd. Ridzuan MA, Rueneuetai U, Noor Rain A, Khozirah S, Zakiah I. Antimalairial properties of Goniothalamin in combination with chloroquin against Plasmodium yoeii and Plamodium berghei growth in mice. Trop Biomed. 2006;23(2):140-146.
  14. Keawpradub N, Itharat A, Wattanapiromsakul C, Sangprapan P, Wangsintaweekul B. Goniothalamin, a cytotoxic compound, isolated from Goniothalamus macrophyllus (Blume) Hook. f. & Thomson var. macrophyllus. Songklanakarin Journal of Science and Technology. 2005;27(Suppl.2):479-487
  15. Ali AM, Mackeen MM, Hamid M, et al. Cytotoxicity and electron microscopy of cell death induced by goniothalamin. Planta Med. 1997;63(1):81-83.
  16. Umar-Tsafe N, Mohamed-Said MS, Rosli R, Din L, Lai LC. Genotoxicity of goniothalamin in CHO cell line. Mutation Research/Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis. 2004;562(1-2):91-102.
  17. Mosaddik MA, Haque ME. Toxicological evaluation of goniothalamin isolated from Bryonopsis laciniosa Linn. in rats. Pharmacy and Pharmacology Communications. 1999; 5(3):411-413.
  18. Razak DA, Gan EK, Mohamad M, et al. Pharmacological evaluation of aqueous root extract of Selayak hitam II: Teratogenic and possible abortifacient effect. Med J Malaysia. 1984;39(1):48-51.
  19. Soepadmo E, Goh SH, Wong WH, Din L, Chuah CH. Malaysian Traditional Medicine. Proceedings of the Seminar on Malaysian Traditional Medicine. Kuala Lumpur. 1999;1-6.
  20. Hamid A, Hadi A, Khalijah Awang, Sevenet T. Cytoxicity of Goniothalamus macrophyllus extracts. 8th National Seminar and UNESCO Regional Workshop on Natural Products. 1991;57.