Family • Amaryllidaceae / Asparagaceae - Polianthes tuberosa Linn. - TUBEROSE - Ye lai xiang

Scientific names

Polianthes tuberosa Linn.

Other vernacular names

FRENCH: Tubereuse.
GERMAN: Nachthyazinthe, Tuberose.
ITALIAN: Tuberosa.
SPANISH: Nardo, Nardo com.

Common names

Azucena (Span., Tag.)
Baston de San Jose (Span., Tag.)
Nardo (C. Bis.)
Polyanthus lily (Engl.)
Tuberose (Engl.)
Ye lai xiang (Chin.)

Azucena is an evergreen, with a stout and tuberous rootstock. Basal leaves are linear, 40 to 60 centimeters long, less than 1 centimeter wide, those on the stem much shorter. The inflorescence is erect, 0.5 to 1 meter high. Flowers are fragrant, waxy white, in pairs, 5 to 6 centimeters long, and the segments, oblong-lanceolate, 1 to 1.5 centimeters long.


– Cultivated for its fragrant flowers.

– Volatile oil from the flowers isolated tuberone.
– Methyl anthranilate has been noted in the tuberose oil.
– Inulin has been reported in the bulbs,
– Leaves yielded a 9,11 dehydrohecogenin 3-O glucose xylose galactoside, Kaempferol 3-O, α-D glucoside, Plianthoside B and C.
– Essential oil from double-flower variety of tuberose were extracted by cold and hot enfleurage. The main chemical component detected in both enfleurage absolutes was methyl benzoate, while benzyl benzoate and pentacosane were the main chemical components in hexane and petroleum ether absolutes, respectively.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Polysaccharide (Ank-102) from Polianthes Tuberosa Cells Deteriorates the Resistance of Mice to Listeria Monocytogenes Infection / Toshiro Majima et al / Summary Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology1995, Vol. 17, No. 1, Pages 59-68 / DOI 10.3109/08923979509052720

(2) Steroidal Glycosides from the Aerial Parts of Polianthes tuberosa / Yoshihiro Mimaki et al / J. Nat. Prod., 2000, 63 (11), pp 1519–1523 / DOI: 10.1021/np000230r

(3) Spirostanol and Furostanol Glycosides from the Fresh Tubers of Polianthes tuberosa / Jian-Ming Jin et al / J. Nat. Prod., 2004, 67 (1), pp 5–9 / DOI: 10.1021/np034028a

(4) Phytochemical Investigation of Polianthes tuberosa / J.Rammamurthy, S.Venkataraman, R.Meera, Satkar Prasad, A. J. M. Chiristina, P.Devi / International Journal of PharmTech Research CODEN (USA): IJPRIF, Vol.2, No.2, pp 1204-1206, April-June 2010

(5) Evaluation of antibacterial activity of some selected Angiosperm flower extract / K. Anu Kiruthika*, A.Amutha Jaisheeba and R. Sornaraj / Int.J. ChemTech Res.2011,3(4)

(6) Medicinal Plants of China, Korea, and Japan: Bioresources for Tomorrow’s / Christophe Wiart / Google Books

(7) Extraction Methods for Tuberose Oil and Their Chemical Components / Prapassorn Rakthaworn*, Uraiwan Dilokkunanant, Udomlak Sukkatta, Srunya Vajrodaya, Vichai Haruethaitanasan, Potechaman Pitpiangchan and Putthita Punjee / Kasetsart J. (Nat. Sci.) 43 : 204 – 211 (2009)

– Diuretic, emetic, maturative.
– Considered aphrodisiac. (In India, unmarried girls are advised not be breathe its scent after dark.)

Parts utilized
Flowers, rhizomes.

• Bulbs have been used in decoction for gonorrhea.
• Poultice of bulbs employed as maturative in the formation of pus in boils or abscesses.
• In Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, rhizomes are used to calm spasms and treat malaria. In China, rhizomes are used to treat burns, infections, and swellings.
• In India, flowers used as diuretic and emetic.
• In Sind, bulbs are dried, powdered and used for gonorrhea.

• Perfumery: Volatile oil used in perfumery.
• Aromatherapy: In aromatherapy, the warm and seductive scent is useful as a hypnotic for women suffering from insomnia and depressed with low sexual drive.

Study Findings
• Steroidal Glycosides / Cytotoxic Activity: Study of aerial parts of Polianthes tuberosa isolated a new bisdesmosidic cholestane glycoside and 3 new spirostanol saponins along with known cholestane glycoside. The compounds were evaluated for cytotoxic activity on HL-60 human promyelocytic leukemia cells.
• Immunosuppressive Activity: Study yielded an acidic polysaccharide (ANK-102) from P tuberosa cells. Pretreatment with ANK-102 deteriorated the murine survival against lethal injection of Listeria monocytogenes, eliminated mainly by macrophages through T-cell mediated immune response.
• Spirostanol and Furostanol Glycosides / Cytotoxicity: Study yielded six new steroid glycosides – two spirostanols, polianthosides B and C, and four furostanols, polianthosides D-G – from the fresh tubers of PT, together with seven known spirostanols and a known furostanol saponins. The cytotoxic activities against HeLa cells are reported.
• Mosquito Larvicide: Study evaluated the larvicide and biting deterrence activity of buds of Polianthes tuberosa against Culex quinquefasciatus and Anopheles stephensi. Both crude and methanol extract showed efficient activity against Cx. quinquefasciatus suggesting use as a mosquito larvicide agent.
• Antibacterial: The methanol extracts of the flower of Qiusqualis indica, Calothrophis gigantea and Polianthes tuberose showed significant antibacterial activity against microbes K. pneumonia, P. aeruginosa, P. mirabiilis, E. coli, MRSA and B. subtilis. Flower extracts of both dry and wet flowers of P. tuberose showed impact only on Proteus mirabilis and E coli at higher concentrations only.