Family • Rubiaceae - Nauclea orientalis - LEICHHARDT TREE

Scientific names

Cephalanthus chinensis Lam.
Cephalanthus orientalis Linn.
Nauclea cordata Roxb.
Nauclea glaberrima Bartl.
Nauclea lutea Blanco
Nauclea orientalis Linn.
Sarcocephalus cordatus Miq.
Sarcocephalus glaberrimus Miq.
Sarcocephalus orientalis  Merr.

Other vernacular names

SRI LANKA: Bakmee.
THAI: Kanluang

Bangkal is the local name for two species of Genus Nauclea: Bulobangkal (Nauclea Junghuhnii) and Bangkal (Nauclea orientalis).

Common names

Balikakak (Mag.)
Bangkal (Tag., S. L. Bis., P. Bis., Mbo.)
Bulala (Ilk., Pang.)
Bulabangkal (Bis.)
Bulubitoan (P. Bis.)
Hambabalos (Bis.)
Kabag (Bis.)
Kabak (C. Bis.)
Mabalot (Tag.)
Malakabak (Bag.)
Mambog (Bik.)
Malbog (S. L. Bis.)
Cheesewood (Engl.)
Leichhardt pine (Engl.)
Leichhardt tree (Engl.)
Pincushion tree (Engl.)
Yellow chessewod (Engl.)


Bangkal is a smooth tree, 7 to 16 meters high. The leaves are leathery, elliptic to oblong-ovate, 11 to 25 centimeters long, blunt-tipped and rounded or heart-shaped at the base. Stipules are green, ovate to elliptic, 1 to 3 centimeters long. Flowers heads are solitary, peduncles and terminal, 4 to 5 centimeters in diameter. Flowers are fragrant, round, yellow or orange with white spikes.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) In vitro Evaluation of Anthelmintic Activity of Nauclea orientalis Leaves / S T V Raghavamma and N Rama Rao / Indian J Pharm Sci. 2010 Jul–Aug; 72(4): 520–521. / doi: 10.4103/0250-474X.73932.

(2) Nauclea orientalis / Wikipedia

(3) Chemical constituents from the roots of Nauclea orientalis / Jirapast Sichaem; Wisuttaya Worawalai; Santi Tip-pyang / Chemistry of Natural Compounds (November 2012), 48 (5), pg. 827-830

(4) An ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants of Laos toward the discovery of bioactive compounds as potential candidates for pharmaceutical development / D.D. Soejarto, C. Gyllenhaal, M.R. Kadushin, B. Southavong, K. Sydara, S. Bouamanivong, M. Xaiveu, H.-J. Zhang, S.G. Franzblau, Ghee T. Tan, J.M. Pezzuto, M.C. Riley, B.G. Elkington, and D.P. Waller / Pharm Biol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2013 January 3. / doi: 10.3109/13880209.2011.619700

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

(6) Nauclea orientalis / WorldAgroForestry


– In secondary forests at low and medium altitudes from the Batan Islands and northern Luzon to Mindanao, in most islands and provinces.
– Also occurs in India to Malaya.
– Cultivated for ornamental purposes.

– Bioassay-guided fractionation of dried stems yielded two novel tetrahydro-beta-carboline monoterpene alkaloid glucosides, naucleaorine and epimethoxynaucleaorine, together with known compounds, strictosidine lactam , 3,4,5-trimethoxyphenol, 3alpha-hydroxyurs-12-en-28-oic acid methyl ester, 3alpha,23-dihydroxyurs-12-en-28-oic acid, 3alpha,19alpha,23-trihydroxyurs-12-en-28-oic acid methyl ester, and oleanolic acid.
– Roots yielded new naucleidinal derivative along with nine known compounds consisting of six indole alkaloids [naucleficine, naucleactonin A, naucleidinal, 19-epi-naucleidinal, strictosamide, and pumiloside], two secoiridoids [aligenoside and sweroside], and vanillic acid were isolated from the roots of Nauclea orientalis. (See study below).
– Study of dried stem is

– Emetic, vulnerary.
– Considered antimalarial, anticancer.

Parts utilized

– Fruits are edible, though bitter tasting. Eaten by indigenous Australians.
– Fruits palatable to bats and birds. In Malaysia, one of the food sources of proboscis monkeys.

– Used to treat wounds.
– Leaves applied to boils and tumors.
– Bark decoction for diarrhea and toothaches.
– Elsewhere, bark used as ingredient in birth control concoctions.
– Bark infusions used as emetic. Used to treat stomachaches and animal bites.
– Aboriginal people of North Queensland crush the fruits in water to use as baby food; also used for coughs, colds, stomach pains and diarrhea.
– In Laos, decoction of dried stem (chipped stem wood and stem bark) mixed with two other plants used to treat fatigue.
– In Ayurveda, used for toothache, tumors, and diarrhea.

– Dye: In Otaheite, leaves used as ingredient in the red dye, or matte, for cloth.
– Lumber: Timber is not durable to weather exposure. Used for frames, internal floorboards, making canoes, woodcarving, papermaking.
– Poison: Wood was shown to be toxic to the termite Cryptotermes domesticus under laboratory conditions.


Study Findings
• Antimalarial : Phytochemical analysis isolated two novel tetrahydro-B-carboline monoterpene alkaloid glucosides: naucleaorine and epimethoxynaucleaorine, together with five other known compounds. Some compounds showed moderate in vitro activities against Plasmodium falcifarum.
• Phytochemicals: New Indole Alkaloids from the Bark of Nauclea orientalis: Four new alkaloids, nauclealines A and B and naucleosides A and B, together with six known compounds were isolated from the bark of Nauclea orientalis.
• Antiproliferative / Alkaloids: Study yielded nine indole alkaloids from ammoniacal extracts of Nauclea orientalis. The compounds were found to exhibit in vitro anti-prolilferative activity against human bladder carcinoma T-24 cell line and epidermal growth-factor-dependent mouse epidermal keratinocytes.
• Anthelmintic: Various extracts of Nauclea orientalis leaves were evaluated for anthelmintic activity on adult Indian earthworm (Pheretima posthuma). The extracts exhibited dose-dependent action with inhibition of spontaneous motility and death of earthworms.
• Cytotoxic Indole Alkaloids / Roots: Study yielded a pair of new isomeric indole alkaloids, naucleaoral A and B from the roots. Naucleaoral A showed significant cytotoxicity against HeLa cells, while compound B showed very modest cytotoxicity against both HeLa and KV cell lines.
• Antioxidant / Leaves: Study of ethanol extract of leaves showed significant antioxidant activity which was attributed to the phenolic constituents. Study of aqueous extracts of some selected plants of the family of Rubiaceae and Acanthaceae showed Nauclea orientalis leaves to possess good antioxidant activity using a DPPH assay.
• Roots / Constituents / Cytotoxicity: Roots yielded a new naucleidinal derivative along with nine known compounds consisting of six indole alkaloids. (See constituents above) The isolated compounds were tested for cytotoxicity on HeLa and KB cell lines.
• Antiplasmodial / Hepatoprotective / Oleanolic Acid: Oleanolic acid isolated from N. orientalis exhibited a modest antiplasmodial property against Plasmodium flacifarum and protected against CCl4, acetaminophen, and cadmium chloride-induced liver injury.