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Family Apocynaceae
Alstonia spectabilis R.Br.

Scientific names Common names
Alstonia linearis Benth. Kuyau-kuya (Tag.)
Alstonia longissima F.Muell. Bitter bark (Engl.)
Alstonia ophioxyloides F.Muell. Hard cheesewood (Engl.)
Alstonia somersetensis F.M.Bailey Hard milkwood (Engl.)
Alstonia spectabilis subsp. ophioxyloides (F.Muell.) P.I.Forst Jackapple (Engl.)
Alstonia villosa Blume Leather jacket (Engl.)
Alstonia villosa f. calvescens Markgr. Milky yellow wood (Engl.)
Alstonia villosa var. glabra Koord. & Valeton Yellow jacket (Engl.)
Blaberopus villosa var. petiolata Miq.  
Blaberopus villosus (Blume) Miq.  
Alstonia spectabilis R.Br. is accepted. KEW: Plants of the World Online

Other vernacular names
INDONESIA: Legarang, Langkerang, Pole, Oli.
JAVA: Legarang.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Tutu, Mirun, Tutuwana, Inhopu, Foro, Tutua.

Gen info
- Alstonia is a widespread genus of evergreen trees and shrubs in the family Apocynaceae. It consists of 40-60 species, with most in the Malesian region.
- Genus Alstonia was named in 1811 by Robert Brown to honor Charles Alston (1685-1760), professor of botany at Edinburg from 1716 to 1760.

Alstonia spectabilis is a medium-sized to large tree up to 40 m tall, bole up to 90 cm in diameter, sometimes with small buttresses, outer bark brownish or dark brown, smooth scaly or longitudinally fissured, inner bark yellowish or straw-colored, without latex. Leaves in whorls of 3-4, linear to obovate, 3-32 cm × 1-12 cm, apex acute, obtuse or shortly abruptly acuminate with 10-30(-40) pairs of secondary veins, petiole (0-) 5-27 mm. Inflorescence usually in groups of 2-8, many-flowered. Pedicel 1-3 mm long, calyx subequal, pubescent outside, corolla pubescent outside. Follicles glabrous. (1)

- Native to the Philippines.
- Also native to Australia, Bismark Archipelago, Jawa, Lesser Sunda Is., Maluku, New Guinea, Northern Territory, Queensland, Solomon Is., Sulawesi.
- Found in primary and secondary rain forests
at low elevations up to 800 m.

- GC-EI-MS study of crude bark extract yielded 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (6.01%), 2-methoxy-4-vinyl phenol (0.57%), Vanillin lactoside (1.53%), 2,4-bis(1,1-dimethyl ethyl)-phenol (0.77%), 4-((1E))-3-hydroxy-1- propenyl)-2-methoxy phenol (4.49%), n-hexadecanoic acid (4.18%). Octadecanoic acid (0.62%), [r-(E)]-1,Ethanol-2H-azecino94,3-b] indole-4-ethylidene-1,3,4,5,6,7-hexahydro-6-methylene (0.99%), (3[beta],5[alpha],12[beta],19[alpha],20R)-6,7-didehydro-2,20-cycloaspidospermidine-3-methanol (3.35%), Akummilian-17-oic acid, methyl ester (2.38%), Alstophyllan-19-one (11.00%), campesterol (1.55%), stigmasterol (1.83%), gamma-sitosterol (4.60%), Lupeol (3.39%), (3beta)-24-methylene-9,19-cyclolanostan-3-ol (3.18%). (see study below) (5)
- Examination of the tertiary base fraction from Alstonia spectabilis led to the isolation of villalstonine, macralstonidine, vincamajine, quebrachidine, pleiocarpamine, and AT(,)-methylsarpagine. (9)
- Crude extract of the bark yielded elemental components (<ppm) of Ca (2.571%), K (1.994%), Cl (0.845%), S (0.456%), Si (0.0.368%), Fe (0.009%), Zn (0.003%), with glucose (building block of cellulosic material) consisting of 93.630%. (5)

- Studies have suggest antimalarial, cytotoxic, anticancer properties.

Parts used
Leaves, bark, stems, sap.



- No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- In Papua New Guinea, decoction of leaves and bark used for treatment of cough and sore throat. Leaves chewed with betel nut (Areca catechu) and lime to ease the pain of constant coughing.
Decoction of leaves used to treat malarial fever; also used for treatment of asthma. Diluted stem sap applied to tropical ulcers. (1)
- In the Solomon Islands, plant decoctions is the base of a mixture used as abortifacient. (1)
- Tetun ethnic people in West Timor Indonesia drink decoction of stem bark for the treatment of malaria. (3) (4)
- In New Guinea, dried bark is crushed, mixed with water, and drunk to treat malaria, fever, and stomachache. Latex is rubbed into hair to kill head lice. Stems also used for malaria. Stem sap applied externally to tropical ulcers. (6) Leaf decoction used to treat bad cough and asthma. Sap from fresh stem mixed with water used for bad cough. Hot water leaf extract used as abortifacient. (7)
- Wood: Mature timber used for house construction, furniture, flooring, making household implements, and building canoes.

Antimalarial / Antiplasmodial / Stem Bark:
Study evaluated 50 plant species used by the Tetun ethnic people in West Timor Indonesia for antiplasmodial activity. Alstonia spectabilis showed strong antiplasmodial activity with IC50 of 1.23 µg/mL. (4)
Cytotoxic Potential / Bark: Study evaluated the cytotoxic potential of A. spectabilis crude bark extracts. The major mineral found in the crude bark extract was calcium (2.571%). Cell viability assay of the extract showed best activity against H69PR with IC50 of 6.95 mug/mL, followed by HT-29 (human colorectal adenocarcinoma) (IC50 7.49), MCF-7 (human breast cancer) (11.06), and THP-1 (human leukemia monocytic) (IC50 66.64 mug/mL.) Results suggest potential as effective chemotherapeutic agent. (see constituents above) (5)


February 2023

                                                 PHOTOS / ILLUSTRATIONS
IMAGE SOURCE: Photograph: Alstonia spectabilis - Flowering branches / Photographer: Unknown / © Australian National Botanic Gardens / Non-commercial use / click on image to go to source page / Useful Tropical Plants
IMAGE SOURCE: Photograph: Alstonia spectabilis -  Fruiting branch / Photographer: Unknown / © Australian National Botanic Gardens / Non-commercial use / click on image to go to source page / Useful Tropical Plants
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Illustration: Alstonia spectabilis / Francisco Manuel Blanco / Flora de Filipinas / Public Domain / Wikipedia

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Alstonia spectabilis / PROSEA: Plants Resources of South-East Asia

Alstonia spectabilis / KEW: Plants of the World Online
Ethnomedicine of Tetun ethnic people in West Timor Indonesia: philosophy and practice in the treatment of Malaria / Maximus M Taek, Leonardus Banilodu, Mangestuti Agil et al / Integrative Medicine Research, 2019; 8(3): pp 139-144
Antiplasmodial Activity and Phytochemical Constituents of Selected Antimalarial Plants Used by Native People in West Timor Indonesia / Taek MM, Tukan GD, Prajogo BEW, Agil M / Turkish Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2021; 18(1): pp 80-90 / DOI: 10.4274/tjps.galenos.2019.29000 / PMID: 33634682
The cytotoxic activity of Alstonia spectabilis R.Br constituents
/ Maria Carmen S Tan, Mary Stephanie S Carranza, Virgilio C Linis, Jasmine Ting, Glenn G Oyong / Australian Journal of Herbal and Naturopathic Medicine, 2020; 32(4): pp 155-163 / ISSN: 2209-119X
Alstonia spectabilis / R J Morrison, Paul Geraghty, Linda Crowl / Science of Pacific Island Peoples / Google Books
Alstonia spectabilis / Medicinal Plants in Papua New Guinea / WHO: Western Pacific Region
Alstonia / Wikipedia
Tertiary alkaloids of Alstonia spectabilis and Alstonia glabriflora (Apocynaceae) / N K Hart, S R Johns, J A Lamberton / Aust J Chem, 1972; 25: pp 2739-2741

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)

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