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Family Melastomataceae
Memecylon ovatum

Scientific names Common names
Memecylon ovatum Smith Bayan (Tag.)
Memecylon edule var. ovatum (Sm.) C.B.Clarke Digek (Iloko)
Memecylon grande var. ovatum (Sm.) Trimen Diok (Pang.)
Accepted infraspecifics (2) Gisian (Tag.)
Memecylon ovatum var. minor (King) Das, Giri, Pram. & Maity Kandong (Ilk.)
Memecylon elegans var. ovatum King Kolis (Tag.)
Memecylon ovatum var. ovatum Kulis (Sbl.)
Memecylon ferreum Blume Malabahi (Bik.)
Memecylon laxiflorum Wall. Malabanggi (Kuy.)
Memecylon lucidum C.Presl Sagingsing (Bis.)
Memecylon parviflorum Blanco Sisirai (Ilk.)
Memecylon pierrei Hance Delek air tree (Engl.)
Memecylon prasinum WaNaudin Ironwood tree (Engl.)
Memecylon rhodophyllum Bakh.f. Ovate memecylon (Engl.)
Memecylon violaceum Cogn.  
Memecylon ovatum Sm. is an accpeted species. KEW: Plants of the World Online

Other vernacular names
ANDAMAN / NICOBAR IS: Kolotseint, Lungunh.
HINDI: Anjan, Kaya.
TEUGU: Mandi, Lakhone.
ORIYA: Neymaru.
OTHERS: Dlek air, Bayan, Phlong kin luuk.

Gen info
- Memecylon is a plant group in the family Melastomataceae, consisting of 350-400 species of small to medium sized trees and shrubs in the Old World tropics.
- Etymology:
The genus name Memecylon derives from Ancient Greek memaecylon, used by ancient Greek philosopher Dioscorides and Pliny to described the red fruit of Arbutus unedo (oriental strawberry), an unrelated plant group, alluding to the pink to reddish berries often produced by Memecylon. The species epithet ovatum means 'ovate', referring to the shape of leaves. (12)

• Kolis is a smooth shrub or small tree reaching a height of 8 meters. Leaves are leathery, oblong-ovate to oblong elliptic, 6 to 14 centimeters long, green, shining, and usually pointed at both ends. Flowers are faintly scented, numerous, about 7 millimeters across, deep blue or purple, and borne on axillary, solitary or fascicled cymes, 2 to 4 centimeters long. Fruit is rounded, 7 to 10 millimeters diameter, fleshy and dark purple.

• A big shrub of small shrubby tree, 3-12 m high, occasionally reaching 18 m. Trunk: Single or multiple. Bark grayish-brown, very thin, fissured and flaky but not ridged. Leaves: Leaves opposite, ovate to elliptical, sub-leathery with indistinct veins, blades 6.3-11.4cm long by 3.8-6.3cm wide, petioles 0.6-1.3cm long, apex acute, margins upcurled. Young leaves glossy red. Flowers: Small (7.62mm across), petals and stamen stalks brilliant blue, calyxes pink, barely scented, clustered into small panicle inflorescences arising directly from twigs at leaf axils. Fruit: Small globular berries, with persistent calyx at base, borne in small axillary bunches, ripening from green to pinkish-red to black, eaten by birds. (12)

- Native to the Philippines.
- Common in thickets at low altitudes, especially along the seashore but also extending inland from the Batan Islands and northern Luzon to Palawan and Mindanao.
- An ornamental in gardens and parks.
- Also native to
Andaman Is., Assam, Borneo, Cambodia, India, Malaya, Maluku, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, West Himalaya. (11)

- Plant yields alkaloids, triterpenes, flavonoids and saponins.
- Aerial parts yield umbelactone, beta-amyrin, ursolic acid, oleanolic acid, sitosterol and its glucoside.
- n-hexane extract of roots of M. umbellatum yielded octocosonoic acid, cerotic acid, ethyl palmitate, palmitic acid and butyric acid.

- Fruit and leaves are astringent.
- Leaf is spasmolytic, hypoglycemic.

- Studies have suggested antibacterial, anticancer, apoptogenic, antioxidant, DNA protective, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, hypoglycemic properties.

Parts used
Roots, leaves.

- Fleshy, globose fruits are edible; juicy.
- Decoction of roots used for excessive menstrual discharge.
- Infusion or lotion of leaves used as astringent in ophthalmia.
- Leaf considered astringent and antileucorrheic.
- In India, leaves used for treatment of gonorrhea.

-  Indigenous Nicobarese tribe of Andaman and Nicobar Islands uses oral or topical preparations of leaves for treatment of malaria, hypertension, filariasis, weakness, skin injuries, fever, body swelling. (14)
- Wood: Heavy, hard, strong, and very flexible. Used for general purpose construction: poles, house posts, lumber, furnitures, piles, etc.
- Mordant: Leaves are rich in aluminum; used as a mordant before dyeing. In the Philippines, used with sappanwood (Caesalpinia sappan) for coloring fiber of talipot palm (Corypha umbraculifera). (13)
- Fuel: Wood favored as fuel and for making charcoal.

Antibacterial: . Results showed the ethyl acetate and chloroform extracts of the plant with moderate antibacterial activity. Maximum activity was shown by the chloroform extract against Bacillus subtilis. (1)
Radical Scavenging / Anti-Inflammatory / Analgesic: . The ethyl acetate extract showed the highest stimulation for interleukin-10 production; it also caused significant inhibition of the writhing response. The methanol fraction exhibited radical scavenging activity. (2)
Green Synthesis of Gold and Silver Nanoparticles: An aqueous leaf extract of M. edule was found to be a suitable plant source for the green synthesis of silver and gold nanoparticles. On treatment with aqueous solutions of silver nitrate and chloroauric acid with M. edule leaf extract, stable silver and gold nanoparticles were rapidly formed. The M. edule nanoparticles have potential for various medical and industrial applications. (4)
Hypoglycemic Effect: Study on an alcoholic extract of leaves of Memecylon umbellatum showed significant lowering of serum glucose levels in normal and alloxan-induced diabetic mice. The mechanism was unclear. (5)
Antimicrobial: Study of methanol extracts of M. edule and M. umbellatum showed significant activity against gram-positive, gram-negative bacteria and fungus. (8)
Apoptogenic / Human Gastric Carcinoma: Study evaluated the anti-proliferative and apoptogenic activity of an ethyl acetate extract of leaves of Memecylon edule in various cancer cell lines. Results showed the extract inhibited the gastric cancer cell growth in a dose-dependent manner, inducing apoptosis by mitochondrial dependent pathway. (9)
Antioxidant / DNA Protection Properties: Study evaluated methanolic extracts of three species of Memecylon i.e., M. umbellatum, M. malabaricum, and M. talbotianum. M. umbellatum and M. malabaricum could scavenge hydroxyl radicals and thus protect DNA. (10)


Updated April 2024 / June 2016

IMAGE SOURCE: Melastomataceae : Memecylon ovatum / Inflorescence / Copyright © 2014 by P B Pelser & J F Barcelona (contact: pieter.pelser@canterbury.ac.nz) [ref. DOL90299] / Non-Commercial Use  / Click on image or link to go to source page / Phytoimages.siu.edu
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Melastomataceae : Memecylon ovatum / Leaf / Copyright © 2014 by P B Pelser & J F Barcelona (contact: pieter.pelser@canterbury.ac.nz) [ref. DOL90253] / Non-Commercial Use  / Image modified / Click on image or link to go to source page / Phytoimages.siu.edu
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Illustration: Memecylon edule Blanco / Flora de Filipinas / Francisco Manuel Blanco (OSA), 1880-1883 / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
IMAGE SOURCE: Melastomataceae : Memecylon ovatum / Fruits / Copyright © Pizza fear me / Some rights reserved / CC BY-NC / Image modified / Non-commercial use  / Click on image or link to go to source page / iNaturalist

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Memecylon ovatum / KEW: Plants of the World Online
Memecylon ovatum Smith / National Parks: FLORA & FAUNA WEB
Memecylon ovatum / Ken Fern: Tropical Plants Database / Useful Tropical Plants
Herbal medicine & healthcare practices among Nicobarese of Nancowry group of Islands - an indigenous tribe of Andaman & Nicobar Islands / M Punnam Chander, C Kartick, P Vijauachari / Indian J Med Res., 2015; 141: pp 720-744


Phytochemical and Antibacterial studies of Seed extracts of Memecylon edule / Tamizhamudu Elavazhagan, Kantha D. Arunachalam / International Journal of Engineering Science and Technology
Vol. 2(4), 2010, 498-503
Anti-inflammatory, analgesic and wound healing activities of the leaves of Memecylon edule Roxb. / Somsak Nualkaewa, Kwanchai Rattanamaneeb, Suchitra Thongpraditchotec, Yuwadee Wongkrajangc, Adolf Nahrstedtd / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 121, Issue 2, 21 January 2009, Pages 278-281 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2008.10.034
Indian Medicinal Plants / An Illustrated Dictionary / C P Khare
Memecylon edule leaf extract mediated green synthesis of silver and gold nanoparticles
/ Tamizhamudu Elavazhagan and Kantha D Arunachalam / Int J Nanomedicine. 2011; 6: 1265–1278./ doi: 10.2147/IJN.S18347
Evaluation of the hypoglycaemic effect of Memecylon umbellatum in normal and alloxan diabetic mice
/ Amalraj T, Ignacimuthu S./ J Ethnopharmacol. 1998 Oct;62(3):247-50.
Fatty Acids from Memecylon umbellatum (Burm.) / Himanshu Joshi, Arun B Joshi, Hemlata Sati, Gururaja MP, Prajwal R Shetty, EVS Subrahmanyam and D Satyanaryana / Asian J. Research Chem. 2(2): April.-June, 2009
Ironwood tree / Common names / Flowers of India
/ Mohideen, S.; Hari Babu, L.; Anbuselvam, C.; Balasubramanian, M. P. / International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Review & Resear; Jul/Aug 2012, Vol. 15 Issue 1, p79
Apoptogenic activity of ethyl acetate extract of leaves of Memecylon edule on human gastric carcinoma cells via mitochondrial dependent pathway. / VGM Naidu, Uma Mahesh Bandari, Ashwini Kumar Giddam, Kuppan Rajendran Dinesh Babu, Jian Ding, K Suresh Babu, B Ramesh, Rajeswara Rao Pragada, P Gopalakrishnakone / Asian Pacific journal of tropical medicine, 2013; 6(5): pp 337-345
/ SHAILASREE SEKHAR, SAMPATH-KUMARA KK, NIRANJANA S R AND PRAKASH H S* / International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Vol 5, Suppl 2, 2013

DOI: 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. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

                                                            List of Understudied Philippine Medicinal Plants
                                          New plant names needed
The compilation now numbers over 1,300 medicinal plants. While I believe there are hundreds more that can be added to the collection, they are becoming more difficult to find. If you have a plant to suggest for inclusion, native or introduced, please email the info: scientific name (most helpful), local plant name (if known), any known folkloric medicinal use, and, if possible, a photo. Your help will be greatly appreciated.

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