Family • Tiliaceae - Muntingia calabura Linn. - CHERRY TREE

Scientific names

Muntingia calabura Linn.

Other vernacular names

CAMBODIAN: Krakhob barang.
FRENCH: Bois Ramier
LAOTIAN: Takhob.
MALAY: Kerukup siam.
PORTUGUESE: Calabura, Páo De Seda.
SPANISH: Cacaniqua, Calabura, Calubur, Capulín Blanco, Capulin, Cereza.
THAI: Takhop farang.
VIETNAMESE: Trung ca mat sam.

Common names

Aratiles (Tag.)
Datiles (Tag., Bik.)
Latires (Tag.)
Ratiles (Tag.)
Seresa (Ilk.)
Zanitas (Ilk., Ibn.)
Cereza (Sp.)
Calabura (Engl.)
Calabur tree (Engl.)
Cherry tree (Engl.)
Panama berry (Engl.)
Silk wood (Engl.)


Aratiles is a fast growing tree, 5 to 10 meters high, with spreading branches. Leaves are hairy, sticky, alternate, distichous, oblong-ovate to broadly oblong-lanceolate, 8 to 13 centimeters long, with toothed margins, pointed apex and inequilateral base, one side rounded and the other acute. Flowers are about 2 centimeters in diameter, white, extra-axillary, solitary or in pairs. Sepals are 5, green, reflexed, lanceolate, about 1 centimeter long. Petals are white, obovate, 1 centimeter long, deciduous and spreading. Fruit is a berry, rounded, about 1.5 centimeter in diameter, red on ripening, smooth, fleshy, sweet and many seeded.
– Naturalized, widely distributed, growing in and about towns.
– Introduced from tropical America.
– Also reported in Thailand and Java.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) In vitro Antibacterial Activity of Muntingia calabura extracts / Z A Zakaria, C A Fatimah, A M Mat Jais et al / Internation Journal of Pharmacology, 2 (45): 439-442, 2006

(2) Activity-guided isolation of the chemical constituents of Muntingia calabura using a quinone reductase induction assay

(3) Antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic effects of Muntingia calabura aqueous extract in animal models / Z. A. Zakaria et al

(4) Plant anticancer agents, XLVIII. New cytotoxic flavonoids from Muntingia calabura roots / Kaneda N, Pezzuto JM et al /

(5) Cytotoxic Constituents of Muntingia calabura Leaves and Stems Collected in Thailand / C M Nshimo et al /Summary Pharmaceutical Biology • 1993, Vol. 31, No. 1, Pages 77-81 / DOI 10.3109/13880209309082922

(6) Effects of Muntingia calabura L. on isoproterenol-induced myocardial infarction / Nivethetha M et al / Singapore Med J 2009; 50 (3) : 300

(7) The Antinociceptive Action of Aqueous Extract from Muntingia calabura Leaves: The Role of Opioid Receptors / Zainul Amiruddin Zakaria et al / Med Princ Pract 2007;16:130–136 / DOI: 10.1159/000098366

(8) In vitro antimicrobial activity of Muntingia calabura extracts and fractions / Z A Zakaria, A S Sufian, K Ramasamu et al / African Journal of Microbiology Research Vol. 4 (4), pp. 304-308, 18 February, 2010

(9) In Vitro Antiproliferative and Antioxidant Activities of the Extracts of Muntingia calabura Leaves / Zakaria ZA, Mohamed AM, Jamil NS, Rofiee MS, Hussain MK, Sulaiman MR, Teh LK, Salleh MZ. / Am J Chin Med. 2011;39(1):183-200

(10) Activation of Nitric Oxide Signaling Pathway Mediates Hypotensive Effect of Muntingia calabura L. (Tiliaceae) Leaf Extract / Cheng-Dean Shih, Jih-Jung Chen and Hsinn-Hsing Lee / The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, Vol. 34, No. 5, 857–872

(11) Antinociceptive Activity of Methanol Extract of Muntingia calabura Leaves and the Mechanisms of Action Involved / M. H. Mohd. Sani, Z. A. Zakaria, and M. Z. Salleh / Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM

Parts utilized
Bark, leaves and flowers.

Antispasmodic and emollient.

– The ripe fruit is very popular among Filipino children.
– Flowers are antispasmodic. Decoction of flowers for abdominal cramps.
– Decoction used as emollient.
– Flowers used as antiseptic and to treat spasms.
– Also used to relieve colds and headaches.
– In the Antiles, used as antispasmodic.
– In Martinique, bark decoction is mucilaginous and used as emollient.

– Bark used for making rope.
– Wood is compact, fine-grained, moderately strong and light in weight and durable.
– Fast growing tree that makes for a favorable shade tree.

Study Findings
• Antibacterial Activity: The study concluded that M. calabura possesses a potential antibacterial property that is comparable to the standard antibiotics used. The study also suggests the presence of a more potent polar antibacterial compound.
• Antistaphylococcal Activity Study isolated fractions from the methanol extract of MC with anti-staphylococcal activity.
• Flavanone Constituents: The study isolated a flavanone as well as 24 known compounds, which were mainly flavanones and flavones.
• Antinociceptive / Anti-inflammatory / Antipyretic:The study concludes that M. calabura leaves possessed antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic activities, justifying the Peruvian folkloric medicinal use.
• Cytotoxic Flavonoids / Anticancer: Study isolated 12 new flavonoids were isolated (7 flavans, 3 flavones, two biflavans). Most of the isolates demonstrated cytotoxic activity and some exhibited selective activities when evaluated with a number of human cancer cell lines.
• Cytotoxic / Leaves and Stems : Study of leaves and stems of Muntingia calabura yielded cytotoxic flavonoids: chrysin, 2′,4′-dihydroxychalcone and galangin 3, 7-dimethyl ether. The compounds were active against one or more panels of human and murine cell lines.
• Cardioprotective: Pretreatment with M calabura leaf extract efficiently protected the myocardium against isoproterenol-induced myocardial infarction. It brought about a significant decrease in cardiac marker enzyme activities probably due reduction in extent of myocardial damage and restriction of leakage of enzymes from the myocardium.
• Antinociceptive / Opioid Receptor Connect:Aqueous extract of Muntingia calibura showed significant antinociceptive activity against chemically and thermally induced noxious stimuli. The bioactive compounds responsible for the activity work partly through the opioid receptor system.
• Antioxidant: Study showed high levels of antioxidant activity in the fruit extracts. There was a correlation between antioxidant activity and phenolic flavonoid contents.
• Anticancer / Antiproliferative / Antoxidant: Study showed M. calabura leaves possess potential antiproliferative and antioxidant activities that could be attributed to high content of phenolic compounds.
• Hypotensive Effect: Study evaluated the cardiovascular effect of a methanol extract from the leaf of MC. A fractionated water-soluble extract elicited both a transient and delayed hypotensive effect via production of NO (nitric oxide). Activation of NO/sGC/cGMP signaling pathway may mediate the MC-induced hypotension.
• Antinociceptive / Leaves / Mechanisms: Study on a methanol extract of leaves showed antinociceptive activity involving activation of peripheral and central mechanisms, and partly, via modulation of opioid receptors and NO/cGMP pathway.