Family • Iridaceae - Belamcanda chinensis Linn. - BLACKBERRY LILY - Jiao jian cao

Scientific names

Belamcanda chinensis Linn.
Ixia chinensis Linn.
Pardanthus chinensis Ker
She gan (Chin.)

Common names

Abanico (Span.)
Abaniko (Tag..)
Freckle face lily (Engl.)
Palma (Span, Tag.)
Leopard lily (Engl.)
Black berry lily (Engl.)
Jiao jian cao (Chin.)


Abaniko is an erect and tufted perennial rhizomatous herb with a thick creeping rootstock, growing to a height of 0.5 to 1.5 meters. Leaves are 2-ranked, strongly imbricated, narrow lanceolate, sword-shaped, 40 to 60 centimeters long, 2.5 to 4 centimeters wide, and overlapping at the base. Inflorescence is dichotomously branched, terminal and erect. Spathes are ovate to ovate-lanceolate, about 1 centimeter long. Flowers are numerous and pedicelled, opening 1 or 2 at a time, 4 to 6 centimeters across. Perianth-tube is very short, and the segments narrowly elliptic, spreading, yellowish outside, reddish-yellow inside with reddish spots. Capsules are obovoid, membranous and loculicidal. Seeds are nearly spherical in shape, with lax and shining testa.

– Planted for ornamental purposes, flowering most of the year.
– Nowhere naturalized.
– Native of southeastern Asia.
– Now cultivated in most warm countries.

– Rhizomes are bitter and acrid.
– Traditionally considered aperient, purgative, antipyretic, diuretic, expectorant, deobstruent, carminative and resolvent.
– Pulp considered stomachic.

– Study yielded two major isoflavonoid glucosides: iridin and tectoridin.
– Study of ethanol extract of rhizomes yielded three compounds: isorhamnetin, hispidulin and dichotomitin. From the n-BuOH extract, iridin, tectoridin, daucosterol, vittadinoside or stigmasterol-3-O- glucoside. Four compounds were isolated from n-BuOH extracts: iridin, tectoridin, daucosterol, vittadinoside or stigmasterol-3-O-glucoside.
– Ethyl acetate extract of roots isolated 18 compounds: , dausterol, quercetin, kaempferol, shikimic acid, gallic acid, ursolic acid, betulin, betulonic acid, betulone, tectoridin, irisflorentin, 4′,5,6-trihydroxy-7-methoxyisoflavone, tectorigenin, irilins A, iridin, irigenin, and iristectongenin A.
– Dried rhizomes extracted with 80% ETOH and studied for isoflavones yielded 13 compounds, 10 of which were identified: tectoridin acetovanillone, 4-hydroxy-acetophenone, β-sitosterol, β-daucosterol, 5,7,4′-trihydroxyl-3′,5′-di methoxyflavone, luteolin, apigenin ,5,7,4′-trihydroxyflavanones, isorharnnetin.

Parts utilized
Rhizomes, roots,

– Rhizomes used as expectorant.
– Used for purifying the blood, for liver and pulmonary complaints.
– In Malaya, used as a remedy for gonorrhea.
– In Malabar, used as alexipharmic.
– In Cochin-China (Vietnam), roots used for aperient and resolvent properties.
– Used as antidote to snakebites.
– In traditional Chinese medicine, used for pharyngitis, tonsillitis, cough, wheezing, bronchitis and mumps, blood purification, tumors of the face and breast. B. chinensis is an ingredient in the Chinese product–San Jin Xi Gua Xuang–used for sore throat, mouth and tongue ulcers.

Study Findings
• Phenolic Content / Rhizomes / Anticancer:Three new compounds were identified– belalloside A, belalloside B and belamphenone along with other compounds resveratrol, iriflophenone, irisflorentine, tectoridin, among the 13 others. Results showed two isolates to have proliferation stimulatory activity against human breast cancer cell lines.
• Antifungal: A study on the antifungal activity of Belamcanda chinensis isolated a compound identical to tectorigenin (5,7-dihydroxy-3-(4-hydroxy phenyl)-6-methoxy-4H-1-benzopyran-4-one). This compound showed marked antifungal activity against dermatophytes of the genera Trichophyton.
• Phytoestrogens / Anticancer: Study demonstrated a role for tectorigenin and irigenin in regulating the number of prostate cancer cells by inhibition of proliferation through cell cycle regulation.
• Hepatoprotective / Antioxidative: Study of tectorigenin and tectoridin isolated from BC rhizomes was shown to have antioxidative and hepatoprotective activities in CCl4-intoxicated rats.
• Aldose Reductase Inhibition / Tectoridin / Antidiabetic: Aldose reductase is the key enzyme in the polyol pathway, and plays an important role in diabetic complications. Study isolated 12 phenolic compounds from the rhizomes of B. chinensis, with tectoridin and tectorigenin exhibiting the highest aldose reductase inhibitory potency. Administered in STZ-induced diabetic rats, it showed significant inhibition of sorbitol accumulation in the lens, RBC and sciatic nerves.
• Irigenin / Anti-Inflammatory: Study investigated the anti-inflammatory effects of six flavanoids isolated from the rhizomes of Belamcanda chinensis. Irigenin exhibited concentration-dependent inhibition of LPS-induced nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandin (PGE2) production.
• Tectorigenin / Prostate Cancer: Study of showed who tectorigenin and other compounds extracted from B. chinensis can significantly rectify the aberrant expression of genes involved in prostate cancer. Irigenin from the rhizomes presents as a leading compound for anti-inflammation.
• Isoflavonoids / Antioxidant / Antimutagenic: Isoflavonoid fractions from a methanolic extract of BC rhizomes inhibited chemically induced mutations in S typhimurium TA98 and TA100 and also showed capability to scavenge free radicals. Results suggest additional value of the plant as a phytoestrogenic and chemopreventive agent.
• Phytoestrogens / Regulation of Steroid Receptors and Co-Factors in Prostate Cancer Cells: BCE showed beneficial effects on prostate cancer and rectifies the expression of key elements in hormone-refractory prostate cancer affecting tumor cell viability and proliferation.
• Antitumor Activities / Roots: Study of ethyl acetate extract of roots isolated 18 compounds.
Shikimic acid, betulin, betulonic acid and betulone showed potent cytotoxic activities against tumor cell lines. Compound 7 suggested a mechanisms of growth inhibition via induction of tumor cell apoptosis. (See constituents above)
• Hypoglycemic: Study of Bc leaf extract on normal and STZ-induced diabetic rats showed significant lowering of fasting blood glucose levels. Results suggest the isoflavone glycosides, not polysaccharides, to be the active fraction of BCL in diabetes treatment.

Other vernacular names

BENGALI: Dasba, Basbichandi.
CHINESE: Ye xuan hua, She gan.
FRENCH: Fleur-leopard, Iris tigre
GERMAN: Leopardenblume, Pantherblume.
INDIA: Balamtandam, Valamcandam, Surajkaanti, Dasbaba
INDONESIA: Brojolintang, Suliga, Jamaka, Semprit, Wordi, Kiris, Katna
NEPAL: Tarbare.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) New flavone and isoflavone glycoside from Belamcanda chinensis
Chinese Chemical LettersVolume 18, Issue 2, February 2007, Pages 158-160

(2) Detection of Antifungal Activity in Belamcanda chinensis by a Single-cell Bioassay Method and Isolation of Its Active Compound, Tectorigenin / OH Ki-Bong; KANG Heonjoong; MATSUOKA Hideaki / Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, Volume 65, Issue 4, 2001 / DOI:10.1271/bbb.65.939


(4) Isoflavonoids from the rhizomes of Belamcanda chinensis and their effects on aldose reductase and sorbitol accumulation in streptozotocin induced diabetic rat tissues / Sang Hoon Jung, Yeon Sil Lee et al / ARCHIVES OF PHARMACAL RESEARCH, Vol 25, Number 3, 306-312 / DOI: 10.1007/BF02976631

(5) Tectorigenin and other phytochemicals extracted from leopard lily Belamcanda chinensis affect new and established targets for therapies in prostate cancer / Paul Thelen, Jens-Gerd Scharf et al / Carcinogenesis vol.26 no.8 pp.1360–1367, 2005 / doi:10.1093/carcin/bgi092

(6) Inhibitory Effects Of Irigenin From The Rhizomes Of Belamcanda Chinensis On Nitric Oxide And Prostaglandin E(2) Production In Murine Macrophage RAW 264.7 Cells / hn KS, Noh EJ, Cha KH, Kim YS et al / Life Sci. 2006 Apr 11;78(20):2336-42. Epub 2005 Nov 2

(7) Study of chemical constituents of Belamcanda chinensis / Qin Min-Jan, Ji Wen-Ilang et al / Chinese Traditional and Herbal Drugs, 2004-05/

(8) Belamcanda chinensis / Vernacular names / GLOBin MED

(9) Phytoestrogens from Belamcanda chinensis regulate the expression of steroid receptors and related cofactors in LNCaP prostate cancer cells / Paul Thelen, Thomas Peter, Anika Hünermund, Silke Kaulfu, Dana Seidlová-Wuttke†, Wolfgang Wuttke, Rolf-Hermann Ringert and Florian Seseke / JOURNAL COMPILATION © 2007 BJU INTERNATIONAL, 100, 199–203 / doi:10.1111/j.1464-410X.2007.06924.x

(10) Hypoglycemic effect of Belamcanda chinensis leaf extract in normal and STZ-induced diabetic rats and its potential active faction. / Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology / DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2010.07.005

(11) In vitro antitumor and antioxidant activities of Belamcanda chinensis (L.) DC / Mingchuan Liu, Shengjie Yang, Linhong Jin, Deyu Hu, Wei Xue, Song Yang* / Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, Vol. 6(43), pp. 5566-5569, 10 November, 2012 / DOI: 10.5897/JMPR11.1360

(12) The α-Glucosidase Inhibiting Isoflavones Isolated from Belamcanda chinensis Leaf Extract / Chongming Wu1, Jingyao Shen, Pingping He, Yan Chen, Liang Li, Liang Zhang, Ye Li, Yujuan Fu, Rongji Dai, Weiwei Meng, *and Yulin Deng* / Rec. Nat. Prod. 6:2 (2012) 110-120

(13) Anti-inflammatory natural products from Belamcanda chinensis / JJ Chen, ML Wu, TL Hwang, WJ Wu, YH Tsai, YJ Chen / Planta Med 2013; 79 – PI26 / DOI: 10.1055/s-0033-1352116

(14) Tectorigenin monohydrate: an isoflavone from Belamcanda chinensis / Benguo Liu,* Yuxiang Ma, Han Gao and Qiong Wu / Acta Cryst. (2008). E64, o2056 / doi:10.1107/S1600536808030833

(15) Tissue-specific metabolites profiling and quantitative analyses of flavonoids in the rhizome of Belamcanda chinensis by combining laser-microdissection with UHPLC-Q/TOF-MS and UHPLC-QqQ-MS / Chen YJ, Liang ZT, Zhu Y, Xie GY, Tian M, Zhao ZZ, Qin MJ / Talanta. 2014 Dec;130:585-97. / doi: 10.1016/j.talanta.2014.07.004. Epub 2014 Jul 9.

(16) Studies on Bio-active Constituents of Belamcanda Chinensis and Eleutherine Americana / FengChuanWei / Master Thesis, 2010 / Second Military Medical University

(17) The Antibacterial Assay of Tectorigenin with Detergents or ATPase Inhibitors against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / Dae-Ki Joung, Su-Hyun Mun, Kuang-Shim Lee, Ok-Hwa Kang, Jang-Gi Choi, Sung-Bae Kim, Ryong Gong, Myong-Soo Chong, Youn-Chul Kim, Dong-Sung Lee, Dong-Won Shin, and Dong-Yeul Kwon / Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2014 (2014) /http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/716509


(19) Chemical constituents from Belamcanda chinensis and their inhibitory effects on nitric oxide production in RAW 264.7 macrophage cells / Jin Woo Lee, Chul Lee, Qinghao Jin, Moon-Soon Lee, Youngsoo Kim, Jin Tae Hong, Mi Kyeong Lee, Bang Yeon Hwang / Archives of Pharmacal Research , Volume 38, Issue 6 , pp 991-997 / DOI: 10.1007/s12272-014-0529-8

(20) Toxicity, analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities of tectorigenin / Le Minh Ha, Do Thi Nguyet Que, Do Thi Thanh Huyen, Pham Quoc Long, and Nguyen Tien Dat / Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology, June 2013, Vol. 35, No. 3 , Pages 336-340 (doi:10.3109/08923973.2013.770521)

(21) Phytoestrogens regulate the proliferation and expression of stem cell factors in cell lines of malignant testicular germ cell tumors / Astrid Hasibeder Vivek Venkataramani Paul Thelen Heinz-Joachim Radzun / International Journal of Oncology, Volume 43, Issue 5, Nov 2013: Pages: 1385-1394 / DOI: 10.3892/ijo.2013.2060

(22) Irisflorentin Modifies Properties of Mouse Bone Marrow-Derived Dendritic Cells and Reduces the Allergic Contact Hypersensitivity Responses / Ru-Huei Fu,* Chia-Wen Tsai, Rong-Tzong Tsai, Shih-Ping Liu, Tzu-Min Chan,** Yu-Chen Ho,* Hsin-Lien Lin,* Yue-Mi Chen,* Huey-Shan Hung, Shao-Chih Chiu,* Chang-Hai Tsai, Yu-Chi Wang, Woei-Cherng Shyu,* and Shinn-Zong Lin* / Cell Transplantation, Vol. 24, pp. 573–588, 2015 / DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.3727/096368915X687002

(23) In vitro estrogenic activities of Chinese medicinal plants traditionally used for the management of menopausal symptoms / C.Z. Zhang, S.X. Wang, Y. Zhang, J.P. Chen, X.M. Liang / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 98 (2005) 295–300

• Antitumor / Antioxidant: Various extracts of BC root were studied for in vitro antitumor activity against PC3, Bcap-37, and BGC-823 cell lines. Results showed an ethyl acetate extract and isolated fractions to have significant antitumor activity against the three cell lines. It also showed moderate DPPH free radical scavenging effects.
• α-Glucosidase Inhibiting Isoflavones / Leaves: Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors antagonize the activity of α-glucosidase, delaying absorption of carbohydrates and preventing the sharp increases in blood sugars after meals. Study evaluated the α-glucosidase inhibitory effect of BCL. Thirteen isoflavones were isolated. Six of the thirteen (swertisin, 2″-O-rhamnosylswertisin, genistein, genistin, mangiferin and daidzin) showed strong α-glucosidase inhibitory activity in vitro. Swertisin was the most abundant of the isoflavones and may be the principal component responsible for the α-glucosidase inhibition.
• Anti-Inflammatory / Inhibiting Isoflavones / Leaves: Study screened Formosan plants and Chinese herbs for anti-inflammatory activity. B. chinensis was found to be one of the active species. Study isolated two new isoflavone derivatives, 5-hydroxy-3′-methoxy-6,7:4′,5′-bis(methylenedioxy)isoflavone and 5,7-dihydroxy-6,3′-dimethoxy-4′,5′-methylenedioxyisoflavone, along with 8 known compounds. Compound 9, isotectorigenin, exhibited potent inhibition of elastase release by human neutrophils in response to Met-Leu-Phe/Cytochalasin B.
• Tectorigenin Monohydrate / Isoflavone: Study isolated a tectorigenin monohydrate, an isoflavone, 5,7-dihydroxy-3-(4- hydroxyphenyl)-6-methoxy-4H-chromen-4-one monohydrate, which showed to have antimicrobiotic and anti-inflammatory effects.
• Tissue Specific Metabolites: Study showed the hydrophobic compounds, especially flavonoid or isoflavonoid aglycones and xanthone mainly accumulate in the cork, while the hydrophilic compounds, namely the flavonoid and isoflavonoid glycosides are usually found in the cortex or center.
• Anti-Hyperlipidemic / Leaves: Study evaluated the anti-hyperlipidemic effect of flavone-rich leaf extract of B. chinensis in mice fed a high fat diet. Results showed alleviation of hyperlipidemia, at least in part, by up-regulation mechanisms of AMPK and PPARα.
• Tectorigenin / Antibacterial / Anti-MRSA: Tectorigeninc (TTR) is an O-methylated isoflavone from the rhizome of B. chinensis. Study showed TTR has anti-MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) activity. TTR has a role in increasing cytoplasmic membrane permeability and decreasing activity of ABC transporter. Results suggest a potential for the use of TTR-based products in the treatment of MRSA.
• Phytoestrogens / Antiproliferative / Prostate Cancer Cells: Phytoestrogens are nonsteroidal plant derived compounds with estrogenic activity that have been implicated in protecting against prostate cancer progression. In vitro studies showed a role for tectorigenin and irigenin in regulating prostate cancer cell number by inhibiting proliferation through cell cycle regulation.
• Inhibitory Effects on Nitric Oxide Production: Study of methyl chloride fraction of rhizomes yielded 17 compounds. The isolated compounds were evaluated for inhibitory effects on nitric oxide production in LPS-induced RAW 264.7 macrophage cells
• Analgesic / Anti-Inflammatory / Toxicity Evaluation / Tectorigenin: Tectorigenin is a main compound of B. chinensis. On subacute toxicity testing in mice, no toxic symtploms were observed at doses up to 300 mg/kg. It showed an analgesic effect on acetic acid-induced acute visceral pain in mice, and significant reduction of carrageenan-induced edema in an inflammatory rat model.
• Tectorigenin / Anti-Proliferative / Malignant Testicular Germ Cell Tumors: Study demonstrated the potential of B. chinensis extract and tectorigenin as anticancer drugs in cell lines of malignant testicular germ cell tumor cells (TGCT) by inhibition of proliferation and regulating the expression of stem cell factors. The effects may be based on histone-dependent mechanisms such as direct hyperacetylation of transcription factors.
• Irisflorentin / Roots / Reduction of Allergic Contact Hypersensitivity Responses:Irisflorentin in an isoflavone component derived from the roots of B. chinensis. Study investigated the effects of irisflorentin on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated maturation of mouse bone marrow-derived DCs (dendritic cells). Results showed irisflorentin can improved CHSR by blocking DC function.
• In Vitro Estrogenic Activities: Study evaluated the estrogenic activities of 70% EtOH extracts of 32 traditional Chinese medicinal plants. Belamcanda chnensis, P. corylifolia and P. multiflorum showed a higher estrogenic relative inductive efficiency with RIE ranging from 83.7 to 52.1 (RIE of E2 was 100).
• Anti-Osteoporotic Effects: Study evaluated the effect of medicinal herbs on osteoporosis, especially induced by estrogen deficiency, in an animal model. The B. chinensis extract containing tectorigenin had a strong hypothalamotropic and osteotropic effect without effects on the uterus or the mammary gland.

– Cultivated.
– Seeds in the cybermarket.