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Family Convolvulaceae
Merremia peltata (Linn.) Merr.

Scientific names Common names
Convolvulus bufalinus Lour. Budakin (Bag.)
Convolvulus crispatulus Wall. Bulakan (Tag., Bis.)
Convolvulus peltatus L. Bulak-bulakan (Bik.)
Ipomoea bufalina Choisy Burakan (S. L. Bis., Sul.)
Ipomoea nymphaefolia Blume Tampinita (Sub.)
Ipomoea peltata (L.) Choisy Merremia (Engl.)
Ipomoea petaloidea Choisy Big leaf merremia (Engl.)
Merremia borneensis Merr.  
Merremia bufalina Merr. & Rendle  
Merremia elmeri Merr.  
Merremia peltata (Linn.) Merr.  
Operculina bufalina Hallier f.  
Operculina petaloidea Ooststr.  
Spiranthera peltata (L.) Bojer  
Bulak-bulakan is a shared common name of (1) Merremia peltata, bulakan, and (2) Thespesia lampas, common mallow.
Merremia peltata (L.) Merr. is an accepted name. The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHAMORRO: Laon, Lagoun, Lagun.
FIJIAN: Veliyana, Viliviwa, Viliyawa, Wa bula, Wa mbula, Wa ndamu.
GERMAN: Niaouli oelbaum.
GUAM: Lagun.
INDONESIAN: Akar, Kembung.
PALAUAN: Kebeas, Teb el yas.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Aukut, Bangpuk, Nangumareng, Wararamang.
SAMOAN: Fue lautetele, Fue vao.
TONGAN: Fue mea.

Bulakan is a coarse and widely spreading woody vine. Stems are 5 or more centimeters thick, and porous. Leaves are alternate, smooth, somewhat rounded, about 20 centimeters wide, those toward the ends of the branchlets being much smaller, heart-shaped at the base, pointed at the tip. Peduncle grows solitary from each of the upper leaf axils, erect and longer than the leaves. Flowers are large, golden-yellow, few to many, or clustered. Sepals are smooth, thick, oblong, 2 centimeters long. Corolla has a wide limb.

- Common in secondary forests at low and medium altitudes in the Babuyan Islands (Camiguin); Laguna, Quezon, Camarines, Sorsogon Provinces in Luzon; in Mindoro, Palawan, Balabac, Samar, Leyte, Panay, and Mindanao.
- Also occurs in southwestern Asia to tropical Australia and Polynesia.

- In some places considered a troublesome vine, invading forest strands, strangling and smothering vegetation and trees. (11)
- Sometimes utilized to provide rapid ground cover to reduce erosion and nutrient losses. (11)

- Phytochemical screening of leaves yielded terpenoid, steroid, saponin and phenolic compound. (see study below) (9)

- Laxative, anthelmintic.
- Studies have suggest antibacterial, cytotoxic activities.

Parts used
Stems, leaves, juice.


- In Malaya, tubers reported to be edible, but may have a purgative effect.
- In the Philippines, sap from the stem taken as anthelmintic. Infusion of roots used for chills. Tubers used to treat uterine hemorrhage.
- Juice of the stems taken for coughs and diarrhea; also used for sore eyes.
- Leaves used for washing the hair.
- Leaves applied as poultices for superficial ulcers and wounds.
- Leaves applied as maturative for inflammation of the breasts.
- In Vanuatu, new mothers are encourage to drink a lot of coconut water, to which sap of Merremia peltata may be added. (1)
- In Fiji, leaf decoction used to treat boils, infections, and appendicitis. Decoction of roots used to treat stomach muscle rigidity. Drink made from the juice of leaves used for hernias.
- In Papua, New Guinea, leaf, stem and sap used on wounds, sores and swellings.
- In Manus Island, stem sap used on cuts and young leaves applied to sores. On Buin, used for filariasis, elephantitis of scrotum, cut wounds, fever, rhinitis, boils and centipede bites. In Siwai, used for eye inflammation and bullet wounds. (7)
- In Fiji and India, diluted sap from the young leaves used as eye or ear drops
- Sundanese use the extract for stomachaches.
- In Indonesia, leaves used for washing hair, believed to improve growth and prevent hair loss.
- In Serampas, Jambi Indonesia, used for treating cough. (8)
- To facilitate childbirth, Vanuatu women drink juice squeezed out of ten leaves each of M. odorata and m peltata, and to improve lactation, sap of the leaves added on to coconut milk.
- In Indo-China and India, sap from stem are used as laxative. In Fiji, decoction of leaves used to treat boils, infections and appendicitis. Decoction of roots used to treat stomach muscular rigidity. Juice of leaves use for the treatment of hernia and the heated leaves applied as poultice. In Papua New Guinea, stem or sap used for wounds, sores, and swellings. (4)
- In Papua New Guinea, sap of fresh cut leaves used for boils, sores, ulcers, fresh cuts and wounds. Stems used for fever and malaria. (10)
- In the Philippines, stems sometimes used for tying.

Leaves yielded alkaloids and showed antimicrobial activity. (4)
Anti-HIV Activity:
A MeOH extract showed anti-HIV activity, inhibiting HIV-1 reverse transcriptase, and gp120-CD4 binding in vitro. (4)(5)
Cytotoxicity / Leaves:
Study evaluated the cytotoxic effects of methanol extract and fractions of leaves of Merremia peltata by Brine Shrimp Lethality Method. The methanolic extract showed cytotoxicity with LC50 19.68 ppm, n-hexane fraction 22.03 ppm, ethyl acetate fraction 130.92 ppm and methanolic fraction 532.11 ppm. (9)
• Antibacterial / Leaves:
Phytochemical screening of a leaf extract yielded alkaloid, steroids and flavonoids. Ethanol and and water leaf extract showed inhibitory activity on Gram-posiitive bacteria S. aureus and B. subtilis and Gram-negative bacteria E. coli and P. aeruginosa. (12)


Updated November 2018 / December 2016

Image Source / File:Convolvulaceae spp Blanco2.261-original.png/ Flora de Filipinas / Franciso Manuel Blanco (OSA), 1880-1883 / Public Domain Wikimedia Commons

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Maternity and medicinal plants in Vanuatu I. The cycle of reproduction / G. Bourdy and A. Walter / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 1992; 37(3): pp 179-196
CONVOLVULACEAE / Merremia Dennst. ex Endl. / Gen. Pl., Suppl. 1: 1403 (1841).
Merremia peltata / Common names / PIER (Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk)
Merremia Dennst. ex Endl. / Mansur, M., 2001. / Record from Proseabase. van Valkenburg, J.L.C.H. and Bunyapraphatsara, N. (Editors).
Medicinal plants as a source of therapeutic agents against HIV infection / U. K. Patil, V. K. Dixit* / JOURNAL OF NATURAL REMEDIES
Merremia peltata / Synonyms / The Plant List
An ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used in the Siwai and Buin districts of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville / Julie Waruruai, Beuluah Sipana, Michael Koch, Louis R. Barrows, Teatulohi K. Matainaho, and Prem P Rai / J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Nov 18; 138(2): 564–577. / doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2011.09.052
Uras: Medicinal and Ritual Plants of Serampas, Jambi Indonesia / Bambang Hariyadi and Tamara Ticktin / Ethnobotany Research & Applications, April 15, 2012

Extraction, fractionation and Cytotoxicity Test of Merremia peltata (L.) Merr., (Fam. Convolvulaceae) Leaves / Yohannes Alen , Puspita Sari , Yufri Aldi , Yulianis , Shuhei Nakajima , Niomichi Baba, and and Akmal Djamaan / Scholars Research Library, Der Pharmacia Lettre, 2016, 8 (11):48-52
An ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used in the East Sepik province of Papua New Guinea / Michael Koch et al / Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine201511:79 / DOI: 10.1186/s13002-015-0065-8
Merremia peltata / Global Invasive Species Database
Phytochemical and antibacterial properties of the ethanolic leaf extract of Merremia peltata (L.) Merr. and Rubus spp. /  Kristine Jay B Perez, Mark Anthony Israel Jose, Ma. Reina Suzette Madamba, Edgardo C Aranico / Advances in Environmental Biology, Aug 2015; 9(19): pp 50-56

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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