Leea indica (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Leea indica (Burm.f.) Merr.

Protologue: Philipp. Journ. Sci. 14: 245 (1919).


Leea sambucina (L.) Willd. (1798), Leea gigantea Griff. (1854), Leea sundaica Miq. (1859).

Vernacular names

  • Indonesia: ki tuwa (Sundanese), kayu tuwa (Javanese)
  • Malaysia: mali-mali, merbati padang, jolok-jolok (Peninsular)
  • Papua New Guinea: paikoro (Gunantuna, East New Britain), dadoro (Garara, Oro Province), warawa (Navuapaka, Central Province)
  • Philippines: mali (Tagalog), amamali (Bisaya)
  • Thailand: katangbai (northern, Bangkok, south-eastern), bangbaai ton (peninsular)
  • Vietnam: củ rối den.


From India, Sri Lanka, throughout South-East Asia, to northern Australia, Solomon Islands, New Hebrides and Fiji.


In Malaysia and East New Britain, the pounded leaves are used for poulticing cuts and skin complaints in general. It is placed upon the head in fever, and as a general anodyne for body pains. In the Central Province in Papua New Guinea, a decoction of the shoots is applied to sores. In the Oro province the body is beaten for some time with leafy shoots to relieve body pains, fevers and sleeplessness. In Malaysia, a decoction of the roots is taken to relieve stomach-ache. In Java, the leaves are applied as a poultice for headache. In the Moluccas, the leaves pounded with coconut oil are heated and applied to cuts and wounds. In Thailand, the root is considered antipyretic and diaphoretic. It is used to relieve muscular pain, and is an ingredient of a preparation to treat leucorrhoea, intestinal cancer and cancer of the uterus. In the Manus Province, Papua New Guinea, young shoots are chewed to relieve a severe cough. In India, the roots are used in diarrhoea, colic, dysentery and as a sudorific. The leaves are roasted and applied to the head for vertigo. The tender shoots are used as a vegetable and the fruits are edible.


A shrub, treelet or small tree 2-10(-16) m tall, many- or single-stemmed, frequently stilt-rooted, stems glabrous to pubescent; leaves (1-)2-3-pinnate, leaflets 7-numerous, rachis (6-)10-35(-60) cm long, petiole (6-)10-25(-35) cm long, stipules obovate, up to 6 cm × 4 cm, early caducous, usually glabrous, leaflets ovate-oblong to ovate-lanceolate or elliptical to elliptical-lanceolate, (4-)10-24(-45) cm × (1-)3-12(-20) cm, base cuneate to rounded, apex acute to acuminate, margin serrate to shallowly dentate, pearl-glands small, inconspicuous, rapidly caducous; cyme (5-)10-25(-40) cm long, usually lax, sometimes compact, glabrous to pubescent, bracts deltoid to narrowly triangular up to 4(-8) mm long; flowers greenish-white, calyx about 2-3 mm × (2-)3-4 mm, glabrous to pubescent, staminodial tube about 2-2.5 mm long, upper free part about 1-2 mm long, lobes shallowly retuse, notched or cleft, sinuses shallow, ovary (4-)6(-8)-celled; berry 5-10(-15) mm in diameter, purple-black, 6-seeded; seed 5 mm × 4 mm. L. indica is widespread and common in primary and secondary forest, and around villages (often coppiced), in wet areas as well as ridges, from sea-level up to 1700 m altitude.

Selected sources


  • Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Revised reprint. 2 volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Vol. 1 (A-H) pp. 1-1240, Vol. 2 (I-Z) pp. 1241-2444.


  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, 1948-1976. The wealth of India: a dictionary of Indian raw materials & industrial products. 11 volumes. Publications and Information Directorate, New Delhi, India.407
  • Holdsworth, D.K., 1977. Medicinal plants of Papua New Guinea. Technical Paper No 175. South Pacific Commission, Noumea, New Caledonia. 123 pp., 949.


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