Family • Euphorbiaceae - Sauropus androgynus (Linn.) Merr. - STAR GOOSEBERRY - Mani cai

Scientific names

Sauropus androgynus (L.) Merr.

Common names

Binahian (Tag.) Sweet leaf bush (Engl.)
Chinese malunggay (Engl.) Sweet leaf sauropus (Engl.)
Sauropus (Engl.) Mani cai (Chin.)
Star gooseberry (Engl.)


Binahian is an erect, perennial shrub growing to a height of 2.5 to 3 meters. Leaves are dark green, 2 – 6 cm long, 1.5 to 3 cm wide, usually with faint, grayish speckled markings on the upperside. Flowers are red and small, developing into round to angular white or purple fruit capsules measuring about 1.5 cm diameter.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Association of Sauropus androgynus and Bronchiolitis Obliterans Syndrome: A Hospital-based Case-Control Study / Luo-Ping Ger, Ambrose A Chiang et al / Am J Epidemiol Vol. 145, No. 9, 1997

(2) Lung transplantation for patients with end-stage Sauropus androgynus-induced bronchiolitis obliterans (SABO) syndrome / S P Luha, Y C Leea et al / Clinical Transplantation, Volume 13 Issue 6, Pages 496 – 503 / Published Online: 25 Dec 2001

(3) Outbreak of obstructive ventilatory impairment associated with consumption of Sauropus androgynus vegetable. / Lin TJ et al / J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1996;34(1):1-8.

Occurs in the wild.
In some SE Asian countries, cultivated on a commercial scale.

– Leaves are an excellent source of provitamin A, vitamins B and C, proteins and mineral.
– Protein content is higher than most other leafy vegetables; the mature leaves having more nutrients than the young leaves.
– Contains a considerable amount of alkaloid “papaverine” (580 mg of papaverine per 100 g of fresh leaf).
– Study yielded a lignan glycoside and a megastimane glucoside, sauroposide from the aerial parts.

Propagated by stem cuttings.
Harvested 4 months after planting.
Tender young leaves harvested from the top 15 cm of the stem tips.
A fast growing vegetable with abundant fruiting.

Parts used
Roots, leaves.

Young shoots, leaves, flowers and fruits, eaten raw or cooked, with a pleasant , slightly nutty taste, with a flavor of fresh garden peas and the texture of asparagus.
Leaves and stem tips used as salad or steamed, added to stir-fries, egg dishes and casseroles.
Young shoots fried with chili pepper and dried shrimp.
Fruits are candied.
Green dye squeezed out of the leaves used as food coloring for pastries, rice and preserves.
Decoction of roots said to relieve urinary disorders; also, used for fever.
Leaves used as vegetable by nursing mothers to stimulate breast milk production.
Leaves used after childbirth to help the womb recover.
Fodder: Leaves used as cattle and poultry feed in India.

• Excessive consumption of leaf extracts may be toxic. leave contain considerable amount of the alkaloid papaverine (580 mg/100 gm fresh leaves). Excessive consumption of the leaf causes dizziness, drowsiness, constipation. Papaverine in unccoked sauropus affects vasodilation, may cause bronchiolitis obliterans, a progressive respiratory distress disease. the harmful effect is due to consumption of large quantities of uncooked leaves (4.5 kg) and drinking raw juice rather than stir-fried or boiled leaves.
• Papaverine: Report of 44 individuals suffering from temporary insomnia, poor appetite followed by progressive difficulty breathing four wees after ingestion of S androgynous of Sabah vegetable. Open lung biopsy disclosed bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia. Although papaverine was previously identified in the vegetable, it was deemed unlikely to be responsible for the whole range of toxicity seen.
• Bronchiolitis obliterans is an uncommon pulmonary disease characterized by inflammatory changes of the membranous and respiratory bronchioles. Histopathology varies from subtle cellular infiltrates surrounding the small airways to extensive infiltrates with fibrosis and smooth muscle hyperplasia to complete obliteration of the bronchial lumens.
• Lung Transplantation: In Taiwan, over 30 patients developed progressive respiratory failure after consuming the extract from raw SA leaves as a means of losing weight. Despite cessation of intake, severe obstructive ventilatory defect progressed. Five patients underwent lung transplantation. Authors believe lung transplantation to be the only effective modality for patients with end-stage SABO syndrome.

Study Findings
• Bronchiolitis Obliterans: Study establishes the association between consumption of S. androgynus and the BO syndrome. The cases in the report ingested S. androgynous more frequently (more than twice a week) and in large amounts (average per week, 814± 417 g). Patients in the report also consumed uncooked juice, rather the the traditional boiled and stir-fried form of preparation.
• Antioxidant: Study demonstrated the antioxidant capacity and nutritive values of Pak-Wanban.
• Immunohistochemical Analysis: Study suggests a possibility is indicated that a disproportion of Matrix metalloproteinases/Tissue inhibitor of metallo-proteinase occurred in the bronchiole local field, and might be involved in the disease state formation of bronchiolitis obliterans.
• Necrosis and Apoptosis: Study results indicate that necrosis and apoptosis are involved in the toxic effect of Sauropus androgynus in NIH3T3 firbroblasts. More evidence is needed to clarify if necrosis and apoptosis are also related to the pathogenesis of SA-associated obliterative bronchiolitis.