HOME      •      SEARCH      •      EMAIL    •     ABOUT

Family Rutaceae
Triphasia trifolia P. Wils.


Scientific names  Common names 
Limonia trifolia Burm. f. Kalamansito (Ilk., Ibn.)
Limonia trifoliata L. Kamalitos (Tag.)
Triphasia aurantiola Lour. Limonsitong-kastila (Bik.)
Triphasia trifolia (Burm.f.) P. Wilson Sua-sua (Bik.)
Triphasia trifoliata (L.) DC. Suang-kastila (Bik.)
  Tagimunau (Neg.)
  Lime berry (Engl.)
  Myrtle lime (Engl.)
  Trifoliate limeberry (Engl.)
Triphasia trifolia (Burm.f.) P.Wilson is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHAMORRO: Lemon China, Lemon de china, Lemoncito, Limon de china, Limon-China.
FRENCH: Orangine, petite citronelle.
HINDI: Chini Naranghi.
SAMOAN: Moli vai atigi lima, Moli vai atigi lima, Vali atigi lima, Vali atigi lima.
SPANISH: Limoncito, Limon de China.
THAI: Manao thet.

Limonsito is a smooth shrub growing to a height of 2 meters. Leaf has two sharp and slender spines at the base. Leaves have three leaflets, ovate to oblong-ovate, the terminal one 2 to 4 centimeters long; the lateral ones, smaller. Margin is crenate, the petioles very short. Flowers are very short-stalked, white, fragrant, and about 1 centimeter long. Fruit is ovoid, fleshy and red, somewhat resinous, about 12 millimeters long.

- Throughout the Philippines in thickets and settled areas, in some places gregarious and abundant.
- Introduced; probably Chinese in origin.
- Pantropic in cultivation.
- Naturalized in many countries.
- Cultivated for its ornamental fragrant flower and edible red fruit. Attractive as a garden hedge.

Parts utilized
Leaves and fruits.

• Study yielded a new bicoumarin from the leaves and stems; the two coumarinic moieties are derivatives of mexoticin and meranzin hydrate.
• Oil yielded 81 compounds; the main constituent was germacrene B.

• Essential oil from aerial parts yielded main constituents, as follows: β-pinene (64.36%), (+)-sabinene (8.75%), hexadecanoic acid (6.03%), α-limonene (4.24%) and p-cymene (2.73%). (see study below) (8)

• Berries are lemon-scented.
• Fragrant white flowers have a scent of orange blossoms.
• Leaves exude a resinous scent when bruised.
• Considered antifungal and antibacterial.

Edibility / Nutrition
- Fruit is edible, eaten raw or cooked.
- Ripe fruit is pleasant and sweet tasting.
- Fruit can be pickled or made into jams.

- Leaves applied externally for colic, diarrhea, and skin afflictions.
- Fruits used for cough and sore throat.
- Preparation: Peel the fruits and soak overnight lime (apog) water. Rinse, and boil in 1 cup water with 1/2 cup sugar. Rinse and boil a second and third time as preferred, syrupy or candied, using as needed for cough or sore throat.
- Among islanders of the Indian Ocean, fresh crushed leaves applied to dandruff. Also, used for coughs.
- In the Dutch Indies, natives apply the leaves to the body for various complaints: diarrhea colic, and skin diseases.

- In Guyana, fruit is cooked in water and sugar, used as remedy for coughs to loosen phlegm.
- Baths: Leaves used in making aromatic bath salts.
- Cosmetic: Leaves used in cosmetics.

Phenolics / Anti-HSV:
Study on the inhibitory effects of phenolic compounds on herpes simplex virus and HIV included 13 coumarins from Triphasia trifolia. The data suggests the bis-hydroxyphenyl structure as a potential target for anti-HSV and HIV drugs development. (1)
Study yielded a new bicoumarin from the leaves and stems of Triphasia trifolia. The two coumarinic moieties are derivatives of mexoticin and meranzin hydrate. (2)
Antioxidant / Repellent / Essential Oil : Study of essential oil from aerial parts showed high antioxidant potential (94.53%) comparable to ascorbic acid (96.40%). The oils also showed high repellent activity on the insect Tribolium castaneum Herbst (99%±1). (see constituents above) (8)


Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Last Update September 2015

Photo ©Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Fichier:Triphasia trifolia Blanco1.129-cropped.jpg/ Flora de Filipinas / 1880 - 1883 / Francisco Manuel Blanco (O.S.A) / Modifications by Carol Spears / Public Domain / Wikipedia
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Seeds/ Triphasia trifolia (Burm. f.) P. Wilson - limeberry / Steve Hurst @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Phenolics with Anti-HSV and Anti-HIV Activities from Artocarpus gomezianus, Mallotus pallidus, and Triphasia trifolia / K. Likhitwitayawuid et al / Pharmaceutical Biology, Volume 43, Issue 8 November 2005 , pages 651 - 657 / DOI: 10.1080/13880200500383058
A new bicoumarin from the leaves and stems of Triphasia trifolia / Régine Dondon et al / Fitoterapia Vol 77, Issue 2, February 2006, Pages 129-133 / doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2005.11.006
Aromatic Plants from Western Cuba. VI. Composition of the Leaf Oils of Murraya exotica L., Amyris balsamifera L., Severinia buxifolia (Poir.) Ten. and Triphasia trifolia (Burm. f.) P. Wilson / Jorge A. Pino, Rolando Marbot and Victor Fuentes

Triphasia trifolia - (Burm.f.)P.Wilson. / Lime Berry / Plants For A Future
Traditional uses of some Indian plants among islanders of the Indian Ocean / S K Jain and Sumita Srivastava / Indian Journ of Traditional Knowledge, Vol 4(4), Oct 2005, Pp 345-357
Triphasia trifolia / Common names / Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk / PIER
Trifasia trifolia / Synonyms / The Plant List
Antioxidant and Repellent Activities of the Essential Oil from Colombian Triphasia trifolia (Burm. f.) P. Wilson / Beatriz E. Jaramillo Colorado*, Irina P. Martelo, and Edisson Duarte / J. Agric. Food Chem., 2012, 60 (25), pp 6364–6368 / DOI: 10.1021/jf300461k

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.

HOME      •      SEARCH      •      EMAIL    •     ABOUT