Family • Fabaceae - Alibangbang - Bauhinia malabarica Roxb. - MALABAR ORCHID

Scientifric names

Bauhinia malabarica Roxb.
Bauhinia tomentosa Blanco
Bauhinia purpurea Vidal
Piliostigma acidum Benth.
Piliostigma malabaricum (Roxb.) Benth.

Common names

Alambangbang (Tag.)
Alibangbang (Tag., Bis., Pamp.)
Balibamban (Pamp.)
Kalibanbang (Pang., Tag.)
Kalibangbang (Ilk.)
Lilac bauhinia (Engl.)
Malabar bauhinia (Engl.)
Malabar orchid (Engl.)


Gen info
– Bauhinia is a genus of more than 200 species. The genus was named after the Bauhin brothers, Swiss-French botanists. The species share the ‘butterfly’ configuration of the leaves.
– Alibangbang is an Ilongo word for butterfly.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Antinociceptive, Anti-Inflammatory and Antipyretic Properties of the Aqueous Extract of Bauhinia purpurea Leaves in Experimental Animals / Zainul Amiruddin Zakaria, Loo Yi Wen, et al / Med Princ Pract 2007;16:443-449 (DOI: 10.1159/000107749)

(2) Inhibition of Heinz body induction of six common Thai medicinal leaves and creeping stems in in vitro antioxidant study model./ Soogarun, S., Wiwanitkit, V., Suwansuksri, J.

(3) Chemical composition and nutritional potential of the tribal pulse (Bauhinia malabarica Roxb)/ Vijayakumari K, Siddhuraju P, Janardhanan K. / Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 1993 Nov;44(3):291-8.

(4) Preliminary phytochemical screening from different parts of Bauhinia tomentosa L. and Bauhinia malabarica Roxb. (Caesalpiniaceae) / Thenmozhi Krishnasamy, Manian S, Paulsamy S / Research & Reviews, Vol 1, No 1 (2012)

Alibangbang is a small but stocky tree growing to a height of 8 to 10 meters. Bark is yellowish-brown. Branches are freely rebranched, with a dense crown, the ultimate ones smooth. Leaves are broader than long, 5 to 10 centimeters in length, heart-shaped at the base, deeply notched at the apex. Flowers are white and rather large. Pods are long, narrow, and flattened, 20 to 30 centimeters by 1.5 to 2.5 centimeters.


– Very common on open, dry slopes, in regions with long dry seasons in Luzon (Ilocos Norte to Laguna).
– Also occurs in India to Indo-China, Java and Timor.

• Bark contains a tannin, 9.5 %.
• Oil extracted from the seeds was 16%, with linolenic 0.81%, linoleic, 47.26%, oleic 15.26%, stearic 19.29%, palmitic 17.18%, myristic 0.02%.
• Yields antimalarial compounds, preracemosols A and B.
• Seeds yield a higher amount of crude lipid. Seeds are rich in minerals Ca, Mg, Fe. Glutelins (45%) comprise the major seed protein; globulins, 34%.
• Methanol extract of leaves yielded seven flavanols: 6,8-di-C-methylkaempferol 3-methyl ether, kaempferol, afzelin, quercetin, isoquercitrin, quercitrin, and hyperoside were isolated from the methanol extract of leaves.
– Seeds rich in minerals Ca, Mg, and Fe. Unsaturated fatty acids, oleic acid and linoleic acid, are dominant in seed lipids.

– Considered digestive, antidysenteric, emmenagogue, antibacterial, antioxidant, antifungal, pectoral, stomachic, anthelmintic, antiperiodic.

Parts used
Bark, leaves, flowers.

Edibility / Culinary / Nutritional
– Leaves are sour.
– In the Philippines, commonly used as flavoring for meat and fish (sinigang and sinampalukan dishes).
– Excellent source of calcium; good source of iron.
– Infusion of fresh flowers for dysentery.
– In Malabar, decoction of root bark used for liver problems.
– Bark also used for dystentery.
– Leaves applied to the forehead for fevers.
– The roots of Desmodium elegans, combined with the bark juice of Bauhinia malabarica has been used for the treatment of cholera.
– In traditional Thai medicine, used for wound healing, diuretic, emmenagogue, and for dysentery.

Study Findings
• Flavonols from Bauhinia malabarica: Seven flavanols were isolated from the methanol extract of leaves. Of the isolated compounds, isoquercetin showed the highest scavenging activity.
• Antinociceptive / Antiinflammatory / Antipyretic: A study of aqueous extract of Bauhinia purpurea leaves on animal models showed significant antiinflammatory, antinociceptive and antipyretic activities and confirms the folkloric use of the plant for pain and inflammation.
• Antioxidant: An extract study for the antioxidant activity of six Thai medicinal plants showed Bauhinia malabarica leaves to have potent inhibitory effect in inhibition of hemoglobin precipitation caused by oxidants.
• Phytochemical Screening: Edible and therapeutically important parts of B. tomentosa and B. malabarica were evaluated phytochemically. Acetone extracts of both plants showed substantial amounts of total phenolics, tannins, condensed tannins, flavonoids, and vitamin C. Seed extracts also exerted significantly higher flavonoid and condensed tannin contents. Results suggest a potential sources for health, food, and pharmaceutical products.