Baliospermum montanum (PROSEA)

From PlantUse English
Jump to: navigation, search
Logo PROSEA.png
Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Baliospermum montanum (Willd.) Müll. Arg.

Protologue: DC., Prodr. 15(2): 1125 (1866).
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Chromosome number: n= 22, 2n= 28


Baliospermum axillare Blume (1825), Baliospermum solanifolium (Geiseler) Suresh (1988).

Vernacular names

  • Indonesia: kasingsat (Sundanese), srintil, adal-adal (Javanese)
  • Malaysia: akar kara nasi, terap kompong, maharaja lela (Peninsular). Burma (Myanmar): natcho
  • Thailand: tong taek (central), thon di (central, Trang), nong pom (Loei)
  • Vietnam: cẩm tử núi, cọ tưa.

Origin and geographic distribution

B. montanum occurs in Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, the Andaman Islands, Burma (Myanmar), Indo-China, southern China, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Java and Sumbawa.


B. montanum has been used in traditional medicine throughout its area of distribution since ancient times. The leaves are purgative; in Peninsular Malaysia and Thailand, they are drunk in decoction. They are also used as a poultice on wounds. In Thailand and India, an infusion of the leaves is applied to treat asthma. The roots are purgative, but also anthelmintic and diuretic. They are used in Thailand and India to treat dropsy, anasarca, jaundice, skin and abdominal complaints, wounds, inflammations, anaemia and leucoderma. The seeds are known to be extremely purgative, but in overdose they are a highly narcotic poison. They are used externally as a stimulant and rubefacient, and to treat snakebites. The seed oil is a powerful hydragogue cathartic, and is applied externally to treat rheumatism.


Anti-tumour activity has been observed for extracts of the roots. As active constituents, 5 phorbol ester derivatives exhibiting anticancer activity have been isolated, e.g. montanin and baliospermin. Nitrite-treated hot water extracts of B. montanum showed moderate mutagenicity for Salmonella typhimurium strains using the Ames assay.

The seeds yield about 33% oil, which contains 2.8% axillarenic acid.


A monoecious or sometimes dioecious bushy shrub up to 2 m tall, often of somewhat herbaceous texture; young branchlets angled and striate, scattered appressed yellow-pubescent, soon glabrescent, often reddish. Leaves alternate, simple, elliptical to oblong, broadly ovate, obovate or ovate-lanceolate, 5-25(-38) cm × 2.5-13(-18) cm, sometimes 3-5-lobed, slightly cordate to cuneate at base, acuminate at apex, coarsely dentate at margins, pinnately veined, sometimes prominently 3-veined from base; petiole 1-11(-17) cm long, with 2 glands at apex; stipules gland-like. Inflorescence an axillary cyme up to 4 cm long, arranged on leafy branches, unisexual or bisexual; bracts up to 1.5 mm long. Flowers unisexual, pedicelled, with 5 imbricate, pale green to reddish perianth lobes (petals absent) and lobed-crenate disk; male flowers c. 2.5 mm in diameter, with 14-25 free stamens; female flowers with superior, subglobose, 3-lobed and 3-celled ovary, styles 3, connate at base, having prominent bifid stigmas. Fruit a subglobose, 3-lobed capsule up to 13 mm in diameter, 3-seeded. Seeds ovoid, up to 9 mm long, grey, marbled, shiny, carunculate, with fleshy endosperm.

B. montanum can be found flowering throughout the year.

Baliospermum comprises 2 species. B. calycinum Müll. Arg. is an extremely variable species, in which until recently several separate species were distinguished; it occurs from the eastern Himalayas to Burma (Myanmar), Vietnam, southern China and Thailand. Baliospermum is related to Blachia , which lacks the foliar glands, and has umbelliform inflorescences and sepals as well as petals.


In Java, B. montanum occurs in open forest such as teak forest, brushwood and grassland, up to 250 m altitude. In Peninsular Malaysia, it is found in lowland forest; it is uncommon there. It has been found only once in northern Sumatra. It is more common in India, Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand, where it occurs in moist or dry evergreen forest, bamboo forest and scrub vegetation up to 700 m altitude (in India and Burma (Myanmar) up to 1300 m).

Genetic resources

In the Malesian region, B. montanum is generally not common. It is much more widely found in Thailand, Burma (Myanmar) and India. There seems no reason to consider it at risk of genetic erosion.


In mainland South-East Asia, B. montanum is regarded as a fairly important medicinal plant. The widely divergent uses of different plant parts in that region and the promising results of the few pharmacological studies carried out so far indicate that additional research would be worthwhile, also for the Malesian region.


133, 173, 336, 693.

Other selected sources

19, 22, 23, 62, 121, 383, 990.

Main genus page


Wongsatit Chuakul, Noppamas Soonthornchareonnon & Orawan Ruangsomboon