Family • Fabaceae - Pongamia pinnata (L.) Pierre - PONGAM OIL TREE - Shui huang pi

Scientific names

Pongamia pinnata Linn.
Pongamia glabra Linn,
Pongamia mitis Merr,
Cajum pinnatum O. Kuntze
Cystisus pinnatus Linn,
Dalbergia arborea Willd.
Galedupa indica Lam,
Galedupa maculata Blanco
Galedupa pinnata Taub.
Pterocarpus flavus Lour.
Robinia mitis Linn.
Millettia pinnata (L.) Panigrahi
Shui huang pi mitis (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

BENGALI: Dahar-karanja.
CHINESE: Ye dou.
FRENCH: Abre de pongolote.
INDIA: Karanja.
INDONESIA: Bangkong (Javanese), Ki pahang laut (Sundanese), Kranji (Madurese).
MALAYSIA: Mempari, Kacang kayu laut (Peninsular), Biansu (Sarwak).
LAOS: (Do:k) ko:m ko:y.
SANSKRIT: Karanja, Guchpushpak, Ghritpuur, Udkirya, Karanja, Siddha=pungu.
SINGAPORE: Seashore mempari.
THAILAND: Khayi (Chumphon), yi-nam (Peninsular).
VIETNAME: D[aa]y m[aa]u. D[aa]y kim, Kh[oor] s[aa]m hoa.

Common names

Bagnei (Bon.)
Balikbalik (Tag.)
Balok (Tag.)
Balok-balok (Tag., Bik.)
Balotbalot (Tag.)
Baluk-baluk (C. Bis.)
Balu-balu (Sul.)
Balut-balut (Mag.)
Banit (Tag.)
Baobao (Mbo.)
Bayog-bayok (Tag., C. Bis.)
Bayok-bayok (C. Bis.)
Butong (Bis.)
Kadol (Tag.)
Magit (Mag.)
Malok-balok (P. Bis.)
Marobahai (Tagb.)
Marok-barok (Bik., S.L. Bis.)
Maruk-baruk (C. Bis.)
Pongam (Engl.)
Indian beech (Engl.)
Pongam oil tree (Engl.)
Poonga oil tree (Engl.)
Shui liu dou (Chin.)


Bani is a smooth tree growing to a height of 8 to 25 meters. Leaves are compound, 20 to 25 centimeters long, with 5 to 7 leaflets that are smooth, ovate, 6 to 15 centimeters long, with the terminal one larger than the others, pointed at the tip and usually rounded at the base. Flowers are fragrant and numerous, purplish, pink or nearly white, 1.5 centimeters long, borne on axillary and hairy racemes 15 to 20 centimeters long. Pods are woody, smooth, and oblong, 5 to 7 centimeters long, 5 to 8 millimeters thick, beaked at the apex, with a single seed measuring 3.5 to 5 centimeters long.



– Along the seashore throughout the Philippines.
– In some localities it extends inwards (Laguna) and near the border of lakes.
– Also occurs in the Mascarene Islands, in tropical Asia, across Malaya to Australia and Polynesia.

– Contains alkaloids demethoxy-kanugin, gamatay, glabrin, glabrosaponin, kaempferol, kanjone, kanugin, karangin, neoglabrin, pinnatin, pongamol, pongapin, quercitin, saponin, b-sitosterol and tannin.
– Seeds yield a thick, reddish brown oil known as pongam oil (also called pangamol or hongay oil) employed medicinally and as an illuminant and in the manufacture of soaps and candles.
– Seeds yielded six compounds (two sterols, three sterol derivatives and one disaccharide) together with eight fatty acids (three saturated and five unsaturated). Metabolite yield consisted of ß-sitosteryl acetate and galactoside, stigma sterol, its galactoside, and sucrose. Of the fatty acids, oleic acid occurred in highest amount (44.24%), followed by stearic (29.64%) and palmitic (18.58%) acids.
– The bark contains a bitter alkaloid.
– Fatty acids in the oil include myristic, palmitic, stearic, arachidic, lignoceric, dihydroxystearic, linolenic, linolic, and oleic acids.
– A watery extract yields mucilage, which is gelatinized by ferric chloride.
– Study of a 50% ethanol syrup of stem bark yielded seven flavonoids, pongaflavone, karanjin, pongapin , pongachromene, 3,7-Dimethoxy-3′, 4′-methylenedioxyflavone, millettocalyxin C, 3,3′,4′, 7-tetramethoxyflavone.
– A methanol extract of dry stems yielded a new chlorinated flavonoid, 2′,6′-dichlore-3′, 5′-dimethoxy-[2′′,3′′:7,8]-furanoflavone together with 29 known compounds, including flavonoids (compounds 2–17), isoflavonoids (compounds 18–23), chalcones (compounds 24–25), flavonones (compounds 26–27), triterpenes (28–29) and alkaloid.


– Seed has a bitter taste, probably from the resinous bitter principle.
– Seeds are febrifuge, tonic and antiseptic.
– Bark decoction give a blue-black color with iodine solution.
– Oil is used as antiseptic and stimulant, stomachic and chologogue. It is applied to skin diseases, scabies, sores and herpes. For eczema, the oil is mixed with zinc oxide.
– An embrocation of equal parts of oil and lemon juice applied in muscular and articular rheumatism, psoriasis, porrigo capitis, and pityriasis.
– Oil also used in pityriasis versicolor and other fungal skin afflictions.
– Oil taken internally as stomachic and chologogue for dyspepsia and sluggish livers.
– In Ayurvedic medicine, the root and bark are anthelminthic.
– In Ayurveda and Unani medicine, used as antiinflammatory, anti-plasmodial, anti-noniceptive, antihyperglycemic, anti-lipidoxidative, antidiarrheal, anti-ulcer, anti-hyperammonic and antioxidant.


Parts used
Seeds, roots and bark.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Pongamia pinnata / James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.

(2) Studies on Pongamia pinnata (L.) Pierre leaves: understanding the mechanism(s) of action in infectious diarrhea / S. Brijesh, P.G. Daswani, P. Tetali, S.R. Rojatkar, N.H. Antia, and T.J. Birdi

(3) Effect of Pongamia pinnata flowers on blood glucose and oxidative stree in alloxan induced diabetic rats / R Punitha et al / Indian J Pharmaco • Feb 2006 . Vol 38 . Issue 1. pp 62-63

(4) Evaluation of anticonvulsant activity of Pongamia pinnata Linn in experimental animals / Ashish Manigauha et al / International Journal of PharmTech Research • Vol.1, No.4, pp 1119-1121, Oct-Dec 2009

(5) Effect of methanolic extract of Pongamia pinnasta Linn seed on gastro-duodenal ulceration and mucosal offensive and defensive factors in rats / T Prabha et al / Indian Journ of Experimental Biology • Vol 47, Aug 2009, pp 649-659.


(7) An experimental study of Pongamia pinnata L. oil as a diesel substitute / P Mahanta, S C Mishra, Y S Kushwah / Journal of Power and Energy

(8) Gastroprotective Properties of Karanjin from Karanja (Pongamia pinnata) Seeds; Role as Antioxidant and H+, K+-ATPase Inhibitor / Vismaya, Srikanta M Belagihally, Sindhu Rajashekhar et al / Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2011) / doi:10.1093/ecam/neq027

(9) Antihyperglycemic and antilipidperoxidative effects of Pongamia pinnata (Linn.) Pierre flowers in alloxan induced diabetic rats / R Punitha and S Manoharan / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol 105, No 1-2, 21 April 2006, Pages 39-46 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2005.09.037

(10) Pongamia pinnata (L.) / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED

(11) In Vitro Studies on Extracts of Pongamia pinnata (L) Pierre Flowers as a Potent Antioxidant / Dr. Rajesh Babu Dandamudi / International Journal of Agriculture and Food Science TechnologyVolume 1, Number 1 (2010), pp. 7-11


(13) Biodiesel from Pongamia pinnata L. Oil: A Promising Alternative Bioenergy Source / M Ahmad, M Zafar, M Khan, S Sultana / DOI:10.1080/15567030802092882 /Energy Sources, Part A: Recovery, Utilization, and Environmental Effects, Volume 31, Issue 16, 2009

(14) Abundant CD4 Th-2 cytokine stimulation by medicinal plant Pongamia pinnata Linn. on human peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) / M. Manikannan1, P. Durgadevi, S. Subramaniyan and Elanchezhiyan Manickan* / International Journal of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry Vol. 4(2), pp. 27-32, 20 January, 2012 / DOI: 10.5897/IJPPB11.049


(16) Extraction of Alkaloids and Oil from Karanja (Pongamia pinnata) Seed / M. S. Rahman, M. B. Islam, M. A. Rouf, M. A. Jalil, M. Z. Haque / Journal of Scientific Research > Vol 3, No 3 (2011)

(17) Study on flavonoids from stem bark of Pongamia pinnata / Hao Yin, Si Zhang, Jun Wu / Zhong yao cai–Zhongyaocai — Journal of Chinese medicinal materials 08/2004; 27(7):493-5.

(18) Analgesic activity of ethanolic extract of Pongamia pinnata Linn. Leaves / Rahul Deo Yadav*, S. K. Jain, Shashi Alok, Shallu Sharma / Der Pharmacia Lettre, 2011: 3 (5) 179-182

(19) ANTIULCER ACTIVITY OF PONGAMIA PINNATA IN RATS / *Anupriya Pandey Vaibhavi Jakhetia and Sonu Sharma / Journal of Drug Delivery & Therapeutics; 2013, 3(3), 85-89

(20) Detail study on the Properties of Pongamia Pinnata (Karanja) for the Production of Biofuel / Bobade S.N. and Khyade V.B. / Research Journal of Chemical Sciences, Vol. 2(7), 16-20, July (2012)

(21) Anti-diabetic effect of methanolic leaf extract of Pongamia pinnata on streptozotocin induced diabetic rats /
Selvaraju Kavipriya, Narayanaswamy Tamilselvan, Thirunavukkarasu Thirumalai, Gangaipillai Arum / Journal of Coastal Life Medicine, 2013; 1(2): 113-117 / doi:10.12980/JCLM.1.2013J9

(22) ANTI-PYRETIC ACTIVITY OF PONGAMIA PINNATA / Jimidi.Bhaskar* Venkateshwarlu Goli, Sravan Prasad Macharla, N.L Gowrishankar, Ch.Dhanalakshmi, Kanakam.Vijay Bhaskar / Journal of Pharmaceutical Science and Technology Vol. 3 (7), 2011,628-630

(23) Antiviral properties of the seed extract of an Indian medicinal plant, Pongarnia pinnata, Linn., against herpes simplex viruses: in-vitro studies on Vero cells / M. ELANCHEZHIYAN, S. RAJARAJAN”, P. RAJENDRAN, S. SUBRAMANIAN and S. P. THYAGARAJANT / J. Med. Microbiol. – Vol. 38 (1993), 262-264

(24) Lack of diuretic activity of water extract of leaves of Pongamia pinnata L. in rats / SA Deraniyagala, WD Ratnasooriya, S Priyadharshini, TRK Perera / J Pharm Negative Results 2014;5:19-21 / DOI: 10.4103/0976-9234.136782


(26) Natural therapeutic agents for neurodegenerative diseases from a traditional herbal medicine Pongamia pinnata (L.) Pierre / Jiayuan Li, Zhe Jiang, Xuezheng Li, Yue Hou, Fen Liu, Ning Li, Xia Liu, Lihua Yang, Gang Chen, J. Li, Z. Jiang, X. Li, Y. Hou, F. Liu, N. Li, X. Liu, L. Yang, G. Chen / Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 2015, 25 (1), pp 53-58 / DOI 10.1016/j.bmcl.2014.11.015

(27) CARDIOPROTECTIVE EFFECT OF PONGAMIA PINNATA HYDRO-ALCOHOLIC LEAF EXTRACT AGAINST ISOPROTERENOL INDUCED MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION IN WISTAR ALBINO RATS / Behera Saiprasanna, S. Manohar Babu, Y. Roja Ramani, Choudhury Prasanta Kumar, Panigrahi Rajeshree / International Journal of Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Vol 2, Issue 3, 2012

– In the Philippines, decoction of leaves given to children for bronchitis and cough.
– Juice of leaves used for itches and herpes.
– In the Island of Guimaras, bark used by the natives as abortifacient.
– Decoction of leaves used for a variety of gastric maladies (tympanism, dyspepsia, diarrhea).
– Decoction of leaves used as bath for rheumatic joints.
– Juice of stems, leaves, and roots for painful joints.
– Juice of roots used for cleaning foul ulcers and closing fistulous sores.
– For hemorrhoids, poultice of finely pounded leaves, rolled into an elongated mass, insert into rectum as a suppository, at bedtime.
– For skin diseases, roasted seeds are pounded and applied over affected areas.
– For skin ulcers, leaves of crushed roots or leaves are applied over affected areas.
– Mixture of oil and zinc oxide used for eczema.
– In Tanjore, juice of roots mixed with coconut milk and lime water used as a remedy for gonorrhea.
– Oil also used for pityriasis versicolor and other fungal skin problems.
– Seed oil used to treat scabies, herpes and rheumatism.
– Poultice of leaves used for wounds infested with maggots.
– Juice of roots with coconut milk used for treatment of gonorrhea.
– Flowers used for diabetes.
– Bark yields a black gum used for treating wounds from poisonous fish.
– In India, fruits and sprouts used for abdominal tumors, bronchitis, chronic fevers, whooping cough; young shoots used for rheumatism. Seed oil used in scabies, leprosy, hemorrhoids, ulcers, liver pain and lumbago.- In Sri Lanka, seeds used for keloid tumors.
– In Vietnam, plant derived powder used for tumors.
– Oil used as liniment for rheumatism.
– Leaf juice used for cold, cough, diarrhea, dyspepsia, flatulence, gonorrhea and leprosy.
– Young leaves applied to bleeding hemorrhoids.
– Bark used internally for bleeding piles.
– Powdered seeds, after decortication, used as specific for whooping cough; also used as febrifuge and tonic in asthenic and debilitating conditions.
– Roots used for cleaning gums, teeth and ulcers.

– Oil: Seed oil used as illuminant and in the manufacture of soaps and candles.
– Rope: Bark used for making strings and rope.
– Fish poison: Roots and seeds are used to poison fish in Australia and Madoera.
– Repellent: Dried leaves used in stored grains to repel insects.
– Fodder: Leaves used as fodder in India.
– Twigs used as chewstick for cleaning teeth.
– Dye: Ash of wood used for dyeing.

• Biofuel plant source: Studied for potential use as biodiesel plant. A pilot project in India showed pongamia biodiesel to require little or no engine modification in up to 20% blend with diesel, with substantial 30% reduction in un-burnt hydrocarbons, 20% carbon monoxide, and 25% particulate matter, no sulfur, with a 10% inbuilt oxygen that is a plus for combustion with a favorable Cetane of 51 (46, the lower limit for good combustion rating). It yields fruits and seeds by the 4th to 7th year, with seed yield from 10-250 kilos per tree. Pongamia’s non-edible “Karanja oil” has properties similar to conventional diesel, but with cleaner emissions, nonopolyaromatic, with lesser toxic smoke and soot. Pongamia by-products can be used as cattle feed supplement. The leftover portion of Pongamia seeds contains up to 30 per cent protein and can be fed to cattle, sheep and poultry.
• Experimental Study of Oil as Diesel Substitute: Various blends of non-edible vegetable oil, honge (P. pinnata) in India, prepared and tested over a wide range of engine load showed a 15 to 20 percent pongamia methylester-diesel blend could be a better fuel in terms of fuel efficiency and power developed, with improvement in brake thermal efficiency and reduction in brake-specific fuel consumption.
• Biodiesel Feedstock / Industrial Applications: Major fatty acids in Pongamis pinnata crude oil were palmitic acid, stearic acid, linoleic acid, eicosanoic acid. The oil extracts showed good physic chemical properties with potential as biodiesel feedstock and industrial applications.

Study Findings
• Antibacterial: Pongam oil has shown inhibitory effects on Bacillus anthracis, Bacillus mycoides, Bacillus pulilus, Escherichia coli. Pseudomonas mangiferae, Salmonella typhi, Staphylococcus aureus and albus, Xanthomas campestris. Phytochemical screening revealed carbohydrates, alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides, steroids, tannins and saponins. Results showed a wide range of antibacterial activity.
• Antioxidant / Hypoglycemic: Study showed potent anti-lipid peroxidative and antioxidant effects in diabetic rats. Not only did it reduce glucose levels and lipid peroxides, but also enhanced antioxidants to a level similar to glibenclamide in alloxan-induced diabetic rats.
• Anti-Diarrheal / Infectious Diarrhea: Studies on Pongamia pinnata leaves: the mechanism(s) of action in infectious diarrhea – A study on the crude decoction of dried leaves selective antidiarrheal action with efficacy against cholera and enteroinvasive bacterial strains causing bloody diarrhea episode.
• Anti-Hyperammonemia: Hyperammonemia is a major contributor to the neurologic abnormalities of hepatic encepalopathy. Study showed a anti-hyperammonemic effect attributed to a nephroprotective effect by detoxifying excess urea and creatinine, free-radical scavenging and its antioxidant property.
• Anticonvulsant: Ethanolic extract showed significant anticonvulsant activity by lowering the duration of extension phase. The effect is attributed to flavonoids.
• Anti-Lice: Study showed the petroleum ether extract to possess excellent anti-lice activity. It presents a potential in using P pinnata leaves against P humanus capitis situations resistant to synthetic anti-lice agents.
• Anti-Ulcer / Gastroprotective: Phytochemical tests yielded the presence of flavonoids in the methanolic seed extract of Pongamia pinnata. It showed dose-dependent ulcer protective effects. The effect may be attributed to flavonoids with actions on the mucosal offensive and defensive factors.
• Karanjin / Gastroprotective / Antioxidant : Study evaluated the gastroprotective properties of karanjin from karanja (P. pinnata) seeds in adult male albino rats with experimentally induced ulcers. Karanjin exhibited ulcer protection and inhibition of oxidative stress. Results suggest karanjin can be an effective anti-ulcer agent, and being non-toxic, can be used in combination with other nutraceuticals in the management of oxidative stress-induced disease conditions.
• Antihyperglycemic / Anti-lipidperoxidative / Flower: Study of flower extract in alloxan-induced diabetic rats showed significant antihyperglycemic and anti-lipid-peroxidative effects with enhancement of antioxidant defense systems. Results suggest a potential for a safe alternative antihyperglycemic drug for diabetic patients.
• Flowers / Antioxidant: Ethanolic extracts and fractions of P. pinnata were tested for antioxidant activity. Total phenolic content was determined as gallic acid equivalents and total flavonoids as quercetin equivalents. Extracts exhibited significant antioxidant activity.
• Biofuel / Pongame: Pongame oil is a non-edible oil extracted from the seeds of P. pinnata. Studyinvestigated the potential of Pongame oil as an alternative source of bioenergy (biodiesel). Seeds yielded 35% oil by weight. The fuel properties of the oil were very close to high-speed diesel. Results suggest Pongame biodiesel is a good alternative for renewable energy that could reduce dependency on imported foreign oil.
• Antioxidant: Study evaluated the antioxidant activity of a hydroalcoholic extract of P. pinnata using various assays (DPPH free radical, Nitric oxide scavenging assays, Superoxide ion scavenging assays, ABTS and iron chelating methods). Results showed a significant correlation between extract concentrations and percentage inhibition of free radicals. The activity was presumed related to phenols and flavonoids in the extracts.
• CD4-Th2 Cytokine Stimulation: Immune cells produce cytokines in response to various stimuli. The cytokine immune cells milieu have a positive outcome on the immune response generated. In a study of immune stimulation of P. pinnata on healthy human peripheral blood mononuclear cells, results showed P. pinnata extracts induced abundant IL-10 production, suggesting it to be a strong inducer of Th-2 cytokines with a potential to treat Th-1 cytokine mediated pathology.
• Anticonvulsant / PTZ-induced Convulsions: Study evaluated the anticonvulsant effect of a leaf extract of Pongamia pinnata in pentylene tetrazole induced convulsion (PTZ) in rats. An ethanolic extract showed significant anticonvulsant activity with lowering of the duration of the extension phase.
• Alkaloids and Oil from Seed: Study of karanja seed oil yielded alkaloids and 32% bitter, red brown thick oil . The alkaloids and oil were recovered from seeds and defatted kernels by two extractions.
• Analgesic / Leaves: Study evaluated an ethanolic extract for in vivo analgesic activity using Eddy’s Hot plate method in mice. Results showed significant dose-dependent analgesic activity. Phytochemical screening yielded carbohydrates, amino acids, fixed oils, phytosterols, glycosides, flavonoids, tannins and phenolic compounds, which may be partly responsible for the anti-pyretic and analgesic activity.
• Antiulcer / Leaves: A methanolic extract produced significant reduction in ulcer index in both HCl – ethanol and aspirin-induced ulcer models in rats.
• Anti-Diabetic / Leaves: Study of a methanolic leaf extract on streptozotocin induced diabetic rats showed potent anti-diabetic effects.
• Anti-Pyretic / Leaves: Study evaluated the anti-pyretic activity of methanol extracts of P. pinnata leaves using experimental animal models. Results showed significant anti-pyretic activity using the brewer’s yeast-induced pyrexia in rats.
• Antiviral / Herpes Simplex Virus / Seed: Study evaluated P. pinnata for antiviral properties against herpes simplex virus. A crude aqueous seed extract completely inhibited the growth of HSV-1 and HSV-2 at concentrations of 1 and 20 mg/ml, as shown by complete absence of of cytopathic effect.
• Lack of Diuretic Activity / Leaves: A water extract of P. pinnata does not possess significant diuretic activity in rats as was claimed in traditional and folkloric medicine.
• Hepatoprotective / IR Induced Hepatic Reperfusion Injury: Study investigated the possible protective effect of P. pinnata hydroalcoholic leaf extract on hepatic ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury. Results showed the leaf extract at a dose of 400 mg/k/day reduced I/R induced organ injury through its ability to balance the oxidant/antioxidant state.
• Potential for Neurodegenerative Diseases: Study of dichloride methane extract of dry stem yielded a new chlorinated flavonoid together with 29 known compounds. Pongaglabol methyl ether , lonchocarpin and glabrachromene II were selected as potential therapeutic agents for neurodegenerative diseases because of their significant anti-neuroinflammatory activities. (see constituents above)