Family • Leguminosae - Acacia concinna (WIlld.) DC. - SOAP POD - Rou guo jin he huan

Acacia is a name shared by many species of Philippine plants, both scientific and common names: (1) Acacia concinna, acacia, a prickly shrub found in La Union, Benguet, and Ilocos Sur provinces of northern Luzon (2) Albizzia lebbect, acaci, langil, mimosa (3) Samanea saman, rain tree, acacia, for Acacia concinna (4) Acacia farnesiana, aroma (5) Acacia glauca, ipil-ipil (6) Acacia niopo, kupang, and (7) Acacia crassicarpa.

Scientific names

Acacia concinna (WIlld.) DC.
Acacia hooperiana Miq.
Acacia sinuata (Lour.) Merr.
Acacia philippinarum Benth.
Acacia poilanei Gagnep.
Acacia polycephala DC.
Acacia quisumbingii Merr.
Acacia rugata Ham.
Mimosa concinna Willd.
Mimosa rugata Ham.
Teng jin he huan (Chin.)

Common names

Acacia (Tag.)
Shikakai plant (Engl.)
Soap acacia (Engl.)
Soap pod (Engl.)
Soap pod wattle (Engl.)
Soap nut (Engl.)
Soap nut acacia (Engl.)
Rou guo jin he huan (Chin.)


Acacia concinna is a scandent, prickly shrub reaching a height of 4 to 5 meters. Branches are gray and armed with short, sharp prickles. Leaves are pinnately compound, 15 to 25 centimeters long, and with 8 to 10 pairs of pinnae. Rachis has one gland near the base, and one of two near the apex. Leaflets number 20 to 32 pairs on each pinnae, are linear-oblong, 8 to 10 millimeters in length, with a pointed tip and subtruncate base. Midrib is oblique. Panicles are terminal, in the upper axils, and ample. Heads are yellow, about 1 centimeter in diameter. Pods are straight, somewhat fleshy, flat, 7 to 10 centimeters long, and about 2 centimeters wide.



– In Benguet, La Union, and Ilocos Sur Provinces in Luzon, in thickets at low and medium altitudes.
– Also occurs in India to southern China and Malaya.

– Soft parts of the dried berries contain 5% saponin.
– Pods have yielded several saponins including kinmoonosides A-C, triterpenoidal prosapogenols names concinnosides A, B, C, D and E with four glycosides, acaciaside, julibroside A1, albiziasaponin C and their aglycone, acacic acid lactone.
– Phytochemical screening of the plant yielded flavanoids, saponins, terpenoids and tannins.

Other vernacular names

ASSAMESE: Amsikira, Kachuai, Pasoi tenga, Suse lewa.
BENGALI: Ban ritha, Ritha, Riitha.
BURMESE: Hpak-ha Sum-hkawn, Kin-mun, Kinmun-gyin.
CHINESE: Xiao he huan.
FRENCH: Chikakai, Piquant sappan, Sappan.
GERMAN: Shikekai-Baum.
GUJARATI: Shikakai.
HINDI: Cikakai, Hikakai, Kochi, Righa, Ritha, Saatalaa, Shika, Shikakai.
JAPANESE: Akashia konshina.
MALAYALAM: Carmalanta, Carmalantala, Chikaka, Chinikka.
MARATHI: Shikakai, Reetah.
ORIYA: Vimala.
RUSSIAN: Akatsiia konsinna, Saptala, Shikakay.
SANSKRIT: Bahuphenarasa, Bhuriphena, Carmasava, Charmakansa, Charmakasa, Phenila, Saptala.
TAMIL: Cikkay, Ciyakkay, Shika, Shikakai, Shikai, Shikaikkay.
TELUGU: Chikaya, Gogu, Shiikaya, Siikaya.
THAI: Sohm bpaawy, Som poy, Som kon.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Antidermatophytic Activity of Acacia concinna / V. Natarajan and S. Natarajan/ Global Journal of Pharmacology 3 (1): 06-07, 2009

(2) Acacia concinna herb Shikakai pods use in medicine /

(3) Hepatoprotective Activity of Ethanolic Extract of Pods of Acacia concinna / Kumar Tataji Setti et al /INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PHARMACEUTICAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENt / June 2011 IssueJune – 2011 / Volume – 3/Issue – 04

(4) Immunological adjuvant activities of saponin extracts from the pods of Acacia concinna / Ratiya Kukhetpitakwong, Chariya Hahnvajanawong et al / International Immunopharmacology, Volume 6, Issue 11, November 2006, Pages 1729-1735 / doi:10.1016/j.intimp.2006.08.004


(6) Sorting Acacia names / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher, / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / The University of Melbourne, Australia / Copyright © 1997 – 2000 The University of Melbourne.

(7) Insecticidal Activity of the Phyto-extracts Derived from Different parts of the trees of Fabaceae family against Hyblaea puera Cramer (Lepidoptera: Hyblaeidae) / B. Deepa and O.K. Remadevi / Biological Forum ó An International Journal, 3(2): 1-8(2011)

Pod is acid, bitter, and singularly pungent; considered deobstruent, astringent and detergent.

Parts used

Pods used as deobstruent in cases of jaundice and other biliary derangements.
Decoction of pods used for biliousness and as purgative.
Fruit pods, leaves and bark are dried, powdered and made into paste to make a hair cleanser.
In India, decoction of pods used for washing the hair to promote hair growth and remove dandruff.
In Thailand, dried pods use as laxative, antidandruff, antitussive and for skin diseases.

Cosmetic: Ingredient in many cosmetic products.

Study Findings
• Antidermatophytic: Study pod extracts showed antidermatophytic activity against Trichophyton rubrum, T. mentagrophytes, T. violaceum, Microsporum nanum and Epidermophyton floccosum.
• Immunological Adjuvant Activity / Vaccine Adjuvant: Study of methanolic fractions showed Th1 and Th2 helper cell activity. At dose of 40 ug it can be used as a vaccine adjuvant to increase immune responses.
• Hepatoprotective: An ethanolic extract of pods of Acacia concinna showed significant protective activity in a CCl4-induced liver damage model.
• Antifungal : Study of extracts was done against 35 isolates of dermatophytes and isolates of C. albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans and Penicillium marneffei. Results showed antifungal effectiveness.
• Antibacterial: The benzene, methanol and aqueous extracts of fresh pods of A. concinna showed maximum activity against K. pneumonia, B. subtilis, E. coli.
• Contraceptive: Study in female rats fed with fraction of AE of Acacia concinna showed arrest in the diestrus stage, reduction in pregnancy and implantation, depletion in FSH, LH and estrogen levels. Results showed the acerone fraction of aqueous extract of Acacia concinna can be used as herbal contraceptive without any undersirable side effect.
• New Cytotoxic Saponins /: Study yielded three saponins, kinmoonosides A-C together with a monoterpenoids from a methanolic extract. The three kinmoonosides showed significant cytotoxicity against human HT-11080 fibrosarcoma cells.
• Volatile Compounds: Study for volatile compounds yielded fatty acids as main constituents, such as palmitic and linoleic acid with rather high amount of furfural and 5-methyl-2-furfural. Esters identified were methyl salicylate, methyl palmitate, isopropyl palmitate, and linalool oxide. The compounds may contribute to the aroma of Som Poy,
• Insecticidal / Ovicidal: Study evaluated the larvicidal and ovicidal activity of extracts of seeds and leaves of Acacia concinna and seeds and flowers of Butea monosperma against Hyblaea puera. Results showed the methanol extract of seeds and EA extract of seeds and leaves were most effective of all extracts with a 100% egg hatch inhibition.