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Family Annonaceae
Ilang-ilang gubat
Desmos cochinchinensis Lour.
Chia ying chao

Scientific names Common names
Desmos cochinchinensis Lour. Dwarf ylang-ylang shrub (Engl.)
Desmos hancei Merr.                          Unresolved Ilang-ilang gubat (Tag.)
Desmos velutinus (Hance) Ast Ylang-Ylang gubat (Tag.)
Unona velutina Hance                         Unresolved  
Ilang-ilang is a common name shared by (1) Ilang-ilang gubat, Desmos cochinchinensis (2) Ilang-ilang, Cangana odorata.
Desmos cochinchinensis Lour. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Chia ying chao.

Gen info
- Desmos Lour. is a small genus in the family Annonaceae, comprising 25-30 species, endemic to tropical and subtropical Asia.

Ilang-ilang gubat is a rather small erect or climbing shrub, 1.5 to 3 meters height. Leaves are oblong to oblong-ovate, 8 to 15 centimeters long, pointed at the tip and rounded at the base, and nearly smooth. Flowers are yellowish white, solitary on a 2- to 5-centimeter long peduncle, borne opposite or nearly opposite to leaflets. Calyx are 3, ovate, 3 to 5 millimeters long. Corolla are 6, fixed, arranged in 2 whorls, oblong or oblong-lanceolate, 3 to 4 centimeters long, the outer whorl bigger than the inner one; stamens numerous. Peduncle extra-axillary, about 5 centimeters long, with one flower. Sepals are ovate-lanceolate, about 1.5 centimeters long. Petals are somewhat hairy, yellow, fragrant, 4 to 5 centimeters long. Fruits are dehiscent, peduncled, arranged in dense clusters, 2 to 5 centimeters long, 1 to 7 seeded.

- In thickets and forests at low and medium altitudes in Palawan, Basilan, Mindanao (Zamboanga).
- Also occurs in India, Assam, and Burma to southern China, and southwards throughout Malaysia and the Malay Peninsula.

• Fragrant flowers yield a volatile oil. Fruit also yields oil.
• Study yielded desmosic acid, a novel cytotoxic fatty acid. (3)
• Study yielded eleven compounds: lawimal, desmosal, desmethoxymatteucinol, unonal , isounonla, desmoflavone, allantoic acid, succinic acid, daucosterol, beta-sitosterol and stearic acid.
• Main compounds identified in young and ripened flowers were trans-caryophyllene (56.2%) and spathulenol (61.5%), respectively.
• Study of petroleum ether extract of roots yielded three flavonoids, two identified as lawinal (1) and isounonal (2).Compound 3 is a new flavonol. Spectroscopic analysis established the structure as 47-
dihydroxyl-5-methoxyl-6-methyl-8-formyl-flavan. (see study below) (1)
• Major compounds in the flower oil of Desmos cochinchinensis were monoterpenoids camphor (59.1%), limonene (8.9%),
α-pinene (8.6%) and camphene (6.0%). (11)
• Stem bark and fruits were evaluated for essential oil. Stem bark yielded main compounds of
ß-caryophyllene (16.9%), bicyclogermacrene (11.6%) and benzyl benzoate (10.1%) while the fruit oil showed an abundance of ß-caryophyllene (20.9%), limonene (15.89%) and germacrene D (12.5%) (12)
• Study of MeOH extract of D. cochinchinensis var. fulvescens Ban yielded two new compounds: 1ß,7α-dihydroxyeudesman-4-one (1) and 5αH-megastigm-7-ene-3α,4α,6ß,9-tetrol (2) along with nine known terpenoids. (13)
• Study of essential oil extract identified -caryophyllene (56.2%) and spathulenol (61.5%) as main compounds in young and ripened flowers, respectively The oil was characterized by an abundance of α-pinene (11.5%), ß-caryophyllene (26.3%), germacrene D (14.6%), and bicyclogermacrene (11.4%). Leaves yielded low amount of essential oil (0.55% v/w; intense yellow). (14)
- Study of leaf and twig extracts isolated four new flavonoids (1-4), a new benzyl benzoate derivative (5), five new oxepinones (6-10), along with 14 known compounds (11-24). (see study below) (15)

- Pungent tasting,
- Stomachic.

- Studies have suggested antimalarial, antimicrobial, antioxidant, aromatase and lipoxygenase inhibiting, alpha-glucosidase inhibitory activities

Parts utilized
· Roots, stems, leaves.

· Decoction of dried leaves used for gastrointestinal distention, indigestion, nephritis-edema, bronchitis.
· Leaves used for treating bruises, pain, intestinal parasitism, rheumatism, diarrhea.
· Decoction of dried roots (15-30 g): Used for rheumatic muscular pain.
· In Malaya, roots used for dysentery and fever.
· Decoction of roots given after childbirth; also used for vertigo.
· In Chinese folk medicine, used for malaria.
· In Vietnam, used as antimalarial, insecticidal, antirheumatic and analgesic. Also, leaves are used for constipation. Stems used by the Dao tribe for constipation.

Anti-Malaria / Flavonoids / Roots: Study isolated three flavonoids from the petroleum extract of the root of Desmos cochinchinensis. Pharmacologic study exhibited anti-malarial activity. (see constituents above) (1)
Anti-Microbial : Study on the crude extracts of DC leaves showed strong antibacterial activity against S. aureus, S epidermis and B subtilis and strong inhibition against all dermatophytes (2)
Cytotoxic Cycloartane Triterpenoids: Study isolated desmosinal, a novel cycloartane triterpenoid from the stem of Desmos cochinchinensis Lour. (3)
Phenolic Compounds / NFAT Transcription Inhibition : Study yielded six phenolic compounds from the methanolic extract of the dried leaves of Dc. Of these, compounds 2 (negletein) and 3 (2',3'-dihydroxy-4',6'-dimethoxydihydrochalcone exhibited potent inhibitory activity against nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) transcription factor. (5)
Flavones: Study isolated four compounds identified as
5-hydroxy-7-methoxy- 6,8-dimethylflavone (desmosflavone), unonal, desmethoxymatteucinol and beta-sitosterol. (7)
Hybrid Flavan-Chalcones / Antioxidant / Aromatase and Lipoxygenase Inhibitors / Cytotoxic / Leaves: Study of leaves isolated hybrid flavan-chalcones, desmosflavans A (1) and B (2), together with three known compounds, cardamonin (3), pinocembrin (4) and chrysin (5). Compounds 3 and 5 exhibited potent antioxidant activity. Compounds 1, 2, 4 and 5 were found to be inhibitors of aromatase. Desmosflavan A (1) inhibited lipoxygenase and exhibited cytotoxic activity. (8)
Aromatase Inhibitory Activity / Roots: Flavans from roots of D. cochinchinensis exhibited potent aromatase inhibitory activity at nanomolar levels, without pronounced cytotoxic activity. Flavans exerted their inhibitory activity through binding with aromatase at Arg115, Met374, and Leu477. (10)
α-Glucosidase Inhibitory Flavonoids and Oxepinones / Leaves and Twigs: Four new flavonoids and five new oxepinones, and 14 known compounds were isolated from the leaf and twig extracts of D. cochinchinensis. Compounds 1, 2, 6, 8, 10, 12-15, and 17 showed α-glucosidase inhibitory activities with IC50s ranging from 0.2 to 4.9 µM. (see constituents above) (15)


Updated July 2020 / October 2016

                                                 PHOTOS / ILLUSTRATIONS
IMAGE SOURCE: / Photos / Desmos Chinensis Dwarf Ylang-Ylang Tropical Vine Shrub / Image from ebay.in / No attribution for copyright status / click on image to go to source page / ebay.in

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Studies on the chemical constituents of the root of Desmos cochinchinensis Lour. / Liao SX, Han GY, Zhang YR, Zheng QT, He CH. / Yao Xue Xue Bao. 1989; 24(2): pp 110-113 /
PMID: 2801131
Antimicrobial activity of Desmos chinensis leaf and Maclura cochinchinensis wood extracts / Sopa Kummee and Niwan Intaraksa / Songklanakarin Journal of Science and Technology 30 (5), 635-639, Sept- Oct 2008
New Cytotoxic Fatty Acid from Desmos cochinchinensis (Annonaceae) / Nan-Jun Sun, David K. Ho et al / Natural Product Research, August 1995; 7(1): pp 35-41
/ DOI: 10.1080/10575639508043184 /
[Studies on chemical constituents of seeds of Desmos chinensis Lour.] / Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 1999 Jul;24(7):418-21, 446.
Phenolic Constituents with Inhibitory Activity against NFAT Transcription from Desmos chinensis / Phan Van Kiem et al / Arch Pharm Res Vol 28, No 12, 1345-1349, 2005

New Cytotoxic Cycloartane Triterpenoids From Desmos Cochinchinensis (Annonaceae) / Nan-Jun Sun et al / Natural Product Research, Vol 1, Issue 2 September 1992 , pages 109 - 115 / DOI: 10.1080/10575639208048897
Isolation and identification of flavones from Desmos cochinchinensis Lour. / Wu, J. H.; Liao, S. X.; Liang, H. Q.; Mao, S. L. / Yaoxue Xuebao. 29(8): 621-623, 1994
Hybrid flavan-chalcones, aromatase and lipoxygenase inhibitors, from Desmos cochinchinensis /
Santi Prasad Bajgai, Vilailak Prachyawarakorn, Chulabhorn Mahidol, Somsak Ruchirawat, Prasat Kittakoop / Phytochemistry. 2011 Nov ;72 (16): pp 2062-2067 / DOI: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2011.07.002
Desmos cochinchinensis / Synonyms / The Plant List
Flavans from Desmos cochinchinensis as potent aromatase inhibitors / Vilailak Prachyawarakorn,* Suwannee Sangpetsiripan, Panida Surawatanawong, Chulabhorn Mahidol, Somsak Ruchirawat and Prasat Kittakoop / Med. Chem. Commun., 2013; 4: pp 1590-1596 / DOI: 10.1039/C3MD00166K
Essential oil constituents of Desmos cochinchinensis Lour, and Polyalthia longifolia var. Pendula Hort from Vietnam / Tran Dinh Thang*, Do Ngoc Dai, Tran Minh Hoi, Isiaka A. Ogunwande / Plant, 2013; 1(4): pp 45-49 / doi: 10.11648/j.plant.20130104.11
Identification of Volatile Constituents of the Stem bark and Fruits of Desmos cochinchinensis Lour / Do N. Dai, Bui V. Thanh, Tran D. Thang and Isiaka A. Ogunwande / American Journal of Essential Oils and Natural Products 2014; 1(4): pp 20-23 / Corpus ID: 13660093
Chemical Constituents of the Leaves of Desmos cochinchinensis var. fulvescens Ban  / Tung-Ying Wu, Yuan-Bin Cheng, Fu-Ting Cheng et al / Helvetical Chimica Acta, 2014; 97(12) / https://doi.org/10.1002/hlca.201400108
The Leaf Essential Oils of Five Vietnamese Desmos Species (Annonaceae) / Do Ngoc Dai, Tran Minh Hoi, Tran Dinh Thang, and Isiaka A. Ogunwande / Natural Products Communications, 2012; 7(2): pp 231-234
α-Glucosidase Inhibitory Flavonoids and Oxepinones from the Leaf and Twig Extracts of Desmos cochinchinensis / Pornphimol Meesakul, Christopher Richardson, Stephen G Pyne, and Surat Laphookhieo / J Nat Prod., 2019; 82(4): pp 741-747 https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jnatprod.8b00581

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