Family • Acanthaceae - Avicennia officinalis Linn. - INDIAN MANGROVE

Scientific names

Avicennia officinalis Linn.
Avicennia oepata Ham.
Avicennia obovata Griff.

Common names

Api-api (Tag.)
Bungalon (Tag., Bik.)
Miaapi (S. L. Bis.)
Piaapi (Tag.)
Indian mangrove (Engl.)

Other vernacular names

HINDI: Bina.
SANSKRIT: Sagorodurga.
TAMIL: Madaipattai.
TELUGU: Madda, Nallamada.


Api-api is a shrub or small tree reaching a height of 8 meters, often flowering when less than 1 meter high. Bark is light gray to brown, smooth but with small cracks. Leaves are leathery, opposite, dark green above and pale and hairy below, oblong-ovate to elliptic, 5 to 10 centimeters long, 2.5 to 5 centimeters broad, usually rounded at the apex and narrow at the base. Flowers are small, without individual stalks, appearing in small heads on stiff, angular and flowering stalks, occurring two together in the axils of the upper leaves, or several at the end of the branch. There are 3 to 7 flowers in each head. Corolla is orange-yellow, about 5 millimeters long, corolla tube being very short and cylindrical, with four lobes, 5 millimeters in length, hairy without and nearly smooth within. Calyx has five lobes, 2 to 8 millimeters long, hairy on the margins; and the lower part of the back is hairy and the rest, smooth. Fruit is an ovoid capsule, 2.5 to 4 centimeters long and contains a single seed which completely fills the capsule. Like other mangroves, the tree has numerous, leafless, blind, erect, conical root-suckers or air-roots, about 8 to 20 centimeters high.


– In Quezon and Camarines Provinces in Luzon; and in Mindoro, Palawan, Samar, Negros and Mindanao, Along muddy seashores and tidal streams.
– Also occurs in India to southern China and Taiwan and through Malaya to New Guinea.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Anti-Ulcer Effect of Avicennia officinalis Leaves in Albino Rats / P Thirunavukkarasu, T ramanathan et al / World Applied Sciences Journal, 9(1)’ 55-58, 2010

(2) ANTIBACTERIAL ACTIVITY OF STEM AND ROOT EXTRACTS OF Avicennia officinalis L / N Sharief Md and Uma Maheswara Rao V / International Journal of Pharmaceutical Applications ISSN 0976-2639. Vol 2, Issue 4, 2011, pp 231-236

(3) Influence of Methanolic Extract of Avicennia officinalis leaves on Acute, Subacute and Chronic Inflammatory Models / Sumithra M, Janjanam Vijay kumar, Vidhya sagar Kancharana / International Journal of PharmTech Research, JPRIF, Vol. 3, No.2, pp 763-768, April-June 2011

(4) Anticancer activity of Methanolic leaves extract of Avicennia officinalis on Ehrlich ascitis Carcinoma cell lines in Rodents / Sumithra M, Anbu J, Nithya S ,Ravichandiran V. / International Journal of PharmTech Research, JPRIF, Vol.3, No.3,pp 1290-1292, July-Sept 2011

(5) The antioxidant and free radical scavenging effect of Avicennia officinalis / P. Thirunavukkarasu, T. Ramanathan, L. Ramkumar, R. Shanmugapriya and G. Renugadevi / Journal of Medicinal Plants Research Vol. 5(19), pp. 4754-4758, 23 September, 2011

(6) Heavy metal pollution and Phytoremediation potential of Avicennia officinalis L. in the southern coast of the Hoogly estuarine system / Debargha Chakraborty, Subhajit Bhar, Jayjit Majumdar, S C Santra / INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES 05/2013; 3(6):2292-2303. / DOI:10.6088/ijes.2013030600045

(7) In vitro Anti-lipid Peroxidation and Anti-arthritic Activities of Avicennia officinalis / Anuya A. Rege, Parikshit R. Juvekar, Archana R. Juvekar / Journal of Natural Remedies, Volume 12, Issue 2, July 2012

(8) Indian Mangrove / Indian common names / Flowers of India

– Wood cortex yields a crystalline substance, lapachol.
– Phytochemical screening yielded alkaloids, triterpenes and tannins. Test yielded a triterpene, betulinic acid.


– Bark is astringent and diuretic.
– Considered an aphrodisiac, cicatrizant.

Parts used and preparation
Resin, seeds, bark.

– In the Celebes, seeds, soaked in water overnight and boiled, used as famine food.
– In Celebes and Java, fruit sometimes eaten by fishermen.
– Resin from the sapwood used locally for snake bites.
– Seeds boiled in water used as maturative poultices and cicatrizant of ulcers.
– In Arabia, roots used as aphrodisiac.
– Unripe seeds used as poultice to hasten suppuration of boils and abscesses.
– In Madras, used for small pox.
– In Java, resin oozing from the bark used as contraceptive.
– Bark used as diuretic.
– In Indo-China, bark used for skin afflictions, especially scabies.
– In India, used for rheumatism, paralysis, asthma, snake-bites, skin disease and ulcers. Fruits are used as plaster for tumors.
– Plant decoction with sugar and cumin used in dyspepsia with acid eructations.


– Wood used for rice mortars, for fuel in smoking fish, and as firewood.
– Wood also used for cabinetry work.
– Yields a wood-tar.
– In India, bark used as dyeing agent.
– In Madras, the ashes from the wood used for washing clothes.

Study Findings
• Anti-Ulcer / Gastroprotective / Leaves: Study of the plant extract of leaves of AO showed it was able to decrease the acidity and increase the mucosal defense in the gastric areas, justifying its use as an antiulcerogenic agent.
• Antibacterial / Stems and Root: Various extracts of stem and root of Avicennia officinalis were evaluated for antibacterial activity against E coli, Enterobacter aerogenes, K pneumonia, B subtilis, S aureus among others. Acetone extracts showed the best antibacterial activity.
•Anti-Inflammatory / Leaves: Study investigated the anti-inflammatory activity of crude methanolic extract of Ao leaves on acute, subacute, and chronic rat paw edema models. Results showed dose-dependent anti-inflammatory activity. Extract yielded a triterpene – betulinic acid – which may be responsible for the anti-inflammatory activity.
• Anticancer / Leaves: Study investigated the anticancer activity of methanolic leaves extract on Erlich ascites carcinoma cell lines in rodents. The extract reversed the hematological changes induced by cell lines. Results showed highly significant dose-dependent cytotoxic effect.
• Antioxidant / Radical Scavenging Effect / Leaves: Study of leaves extracts using in vitro assay systems showed antioxidative and free radical scavenging effect.
• Phytoremediation Potential: Study evaluated the absorption, accumulation, and partitioning of Zn, Cu, Pb, Cr and Cd in Avcennia officinalis. Metal accumulation in roots was comparable to adjacent sediments. Metal concentration was lower in the bark, and lowest in the leaves. Results showed A. officinalis tend to exclude non-essential metals and regulate the uptake of essential metals.
• Anti-Arthritic Activity / Free Radical Scavenging Effects: Study evaluated an aqueous extract of A. officinalis for lipid peroxidation inhibitory and antiarthritic activities. Results showed free radical scavenging activity towards lipid peroxidation and DPPH radicals. AO also exhibited moderate anti-arthritic activity. The activities may be due to the total phenolic content.