Epipremnum pinnatum (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
Introduction
List of species


Epipremnum pinnatum (L.) Engl.


Protologue: Pflanzenr. 37(IV.23B): 60 (1908).
Family: Araceae
Chromosome number: 2n= 60

Synonyms

Scindapsus pinnatus (L.) Schott (1832), Rhaphidophora pinnata (L.) Schott (1860), Rhaphidophora merrillii Engl. (1905).

Vernacular names

  • Indonesia: lolo munding (Sundanese), jalu mampang (Javanese), samblung (Balinese)
  • Philippines: tabatib (Tagalog), takotin (Bisaya), amlong (Bikol, Bisaya)
  • Thailand: ngot, ngot khao (Surin), naang rong (Trat)
  • Vietnam: ráy leo lá xẻ, ráy ngót.

Origin and geographic distribution

E. pinnatum is very widely distributed, from Bangladesh, the Andaman Islands, Burma (Myanmar), Vietnam and probably also Laos, southern China, southern Japan, through Thailand and the whole of Malesia, to Queensland (Australia) and many islands in the Pacific.

Uses

E. pinnatum is used medicinally in different parts of its large area of distribution. The leaves are regularly sold in markets in Singapore for use in herbal tea, which is reputedly effective against rheumatism and cancer, and acts as a general tonic. In the Philippines, the sap is applied to snake bites, and the inflorescence is used as an emmenagogue. In Indonesia, the inner part of the stem is applied as embrocation to treat sprains. In New Britain, the leaves are used externally to treat abscesses and swellings. In Vietnam, whole plants are used in traditional medicine, to treat fractures, bruises, cough, paralysis, rheumatism, conjunctivitis, mastitis, ecchymosis and furuncles, and as an antidote.

Baskets have been made in the Philippines from the inner parts of the aerial roots. In Tonga, the aerial roots of E. pinnatum are collected, baked on stones in an oven, and immersed in salt water for a long period to preserve them and to make it easier to remove the bark. The weavers split these prepared roots horizontally, and make traditional baskets from them, together with the leaf midribs of coconut.

E. pinnatum is often cultivated as an ornamental, with or without variegated leaves. In Bali, the leaves and young shoots are fed to cattle; in horses, they act as vermifuge.

E. giganteum (Roxb.) Schott is reputedly poisonous, and the poison has been used criminally and as dart poison in mixtures.

Properties

Leaf extracts of E. pinnatum showed cytotoxic activity against cancer cells in vitro, and the hot-water-soluble fraction of the extract produced immunostimulation in laboratory animals. Polyhydroxy-alkaloids are present in the leaves.

Botany

A large climber up to 15 m long; stem up to 4 cm in diameter, lustrous green with irregular longitudinal whitish crests, becoming pale brown, with numerous clasping roots and few feeding roots. Leaves alternate, ovate to oblong-elliptical in outline, usually regularly pinnatifid, 10-93 cm × 5-60 cm, rounded to slightly cordate at base, acute to acuminate at apex, sometimes minutely perforate; petiole 20-60 cm long, canaliculate, with petiolar sheath later falling off to leave a brownish scar, basically and apically distinctly geniculate; stipules absent. Inflorescence a cylindrical, whitish, yellowish or greenish spadix up to 25 cm long enveloped by a boat-shaped greenish spathe withering after anthesis and caducous; peduncle stout, up to 21.5 cm long. Flowers bisexual, without perianth; stamens 4; ovary superior, with trapezoid stylar region and linear stigma. Fruit a greenish berry, densely packed in a cylindrical infructescence oblique at base, with few seeds embedded in sticky orange-red pulp. Seeds curved, c. 4.5 mm × 3.5 mm, testa bony and ornamented, brownish.

Epipremnum comprises approximately 15 species of slender to very large root-climbing lianas, and is distributed from India, Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), Indo-China, southern China and southern Japan, through Thailand and the whole of Malesia, to northern Australia (Queensland) and the islands of the Pacific (to the Cook Islands). It is classified in the tribe Monstereae ; other Asiatic genera of this tribe are Amydrium , Rhaphidophora and Scindapsus . E. pinnatum is the only widespread species; the other Epipremnum species have a restricted natural range. E. pinnatum cv. Aureum (synonym: Epipremnum aureum (Linden & André) G.S. Bunting) is often cultivated, usually with variegated leaves. Probably, this cultivar originates from the Solomon Islands.

Ecology

E. pinnatum occurs in primary and secondary rain forests and monsoon forest, up to 1600 m altitude. It is sometimes a weed in rubber plantations, and grows occasionally on rocks and in coastal forest.

Management E. pinnatum cultivated for ornamental purposes is propagated by stem cuttings. In-vitro propagation is successfully practised using shoot tips and axillary buds cultured on Murashige and Skoog medium supplemented with kinetin and adenine sulphate. Root rot caused by Pythium splendens is common in cultivated plants.

Genetic resources

E. pinnatum is very widely distributed and occurs in very divergent habitats. It is consequently not liable to genetic erosion. There are no known germplasm collections of E. pinnatum .

Prospects

It is surprising that a plant species like E. pinnatum that is so widely used in traditional medicine throughout its extremely large area of distribution has been so poorly investigated with regard to its phytochemistry and pharmacological properties. The reputed beneficial activities seem to justify more research.

Literature

104, 153, 333.

Other selected sources

121, 334, 347, 611, 740, 760, 971.

Main genus page

Authors

Nguyen Van Dzu