Family • Euphorbiaceae - Excoecaria agallocha Linn. - BLINDING TREE - Hai qi

Scientific names

Excoecaria agallocha Linn.
Excoecaria carnettia Willd.
Excoecaria affinis Endl.
Stillingia agallocha (L.) Bailon.

Other vernacular names

INDONESIA: Kayu buta-buta, Kayu betah, Menengan.
MALAYSIA: Buta-buta, Bebuta.
MYANMAR: Kayaw taway.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Sismet, Te’eria, Su.
THAILAND: Buu-to, Tatum thale.
VIETNAM: Gi[as], Tr[af] m[ur].

Common names

Alipata (P. Bis.)
Batano (Ilk., Pamp.)
Bota-bota (Tag., Bis.)
Buta-buta (Tag., Pamp., Sul.)
Dipo-data (C. Bis.)
Gumaiñgat (Bag.)
Himbabau (Pamp., Bis.)
Iiñgi (Sbl.)
Lipata Bik., Bis.. Tag.)
Lipatang-buhai (Tag., Sul.)
Siak ( Bis.)
Blinding tree (Engl.)
Blind-your-eye (Engl.)
Milky mangrove (Engl.)
River poison tree (Engl.)
Hai qi (Chin.)

Buta-buta is a tree, usually not more than 8 meters high. Leaves are alternate, shiny, pointed at the top, somewhat rounded at the base, elliptic-ovate, oblong-ovate or ovate, and 6 to 12 centimeters long. Flowers are very small, densely crowded on slender and flowering branches. Male flowers occur on spikes which grow singly in the axils of leaves, from 5 to 10 centimeters long. Female flowers are borne on branches, 2 to 3 cm long. Sepals are three with a basal gland within, no petals, with three stamens. Fruits is somewhat rounded, smooth, about 5 millimeters in diameter, with three sections.


– Along the seashore or any place reached by salt or brackish water throughout the Philippines.
– Also occurs in India to Polynesia.

– Study isolated a new oleanane-type triterpenoid and five known pentacyclic triterpenoids.
– Study of hexane extract of the roots of EA isolated eleven diterpenoids, five of which were new – agallochins A-E.
– Study of stems and twigs yielded six triterpenoids including taraxerone, beta-amyrin acetate, 3beta-[(2E,4E)-6-oxo-decadienoyloxy]-olean-12-ene, taraxerol, acetylaleuritolic acid, and cycloart-22-ene-3beta, 25-diol, and three steroids including beta-sitostenone, (24R)-24-ethylcholesta-4,22-dien-3-one, and beta-sitosterol.


– Milky juice is caustic and poisonous; causing temporary blindness to the eye and blistering of the skin.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Pentacyclic Triterpenoids from Leaves of Excoecaria agallocha / Jian-Hua Zou et al / Chem Pharm Bull.54(6)920-921 (2006)

(2) Bioactivity of Excoecaria agallocha / Nusrat Subhan, Mohammad Ashraful Alam et al / Rev. bras. farmacogn. vol.18 no.4 João Pessoa Oct./Dec. 2008 / doi: 10.1590/S0102-695X2008000400004

(3) Anti-ulcer Activity of Excoecaria agallocha bark on NSAID-induced Gastric Ulcer in Albino Rats / P Thirunavukkarasu et al / Global Journal of Pharmacology, 3 (3): 123-126, 2009

(4) EXCOECARIA AGALLOCHA L. ANTIMICROBIAL PROPERTIES AGAINST IMPORTANT PATHOGENIC MICROORGANISM / Varahalarao Vadlapudi, Varaprasad Bobbarala et al / International Journal of ChemTech Research, Vol.1, No.4, pp 865-867, Oct-Dec 2009

(5) In vitro antioxidant property of the extract of Excoecaria agallocha (Euphorbiaceae) / Nusrat Subhan et al / DARU Vol. 16, No. 3 2008

(6) Screening of antioxidant and antifilarial activity of leaf extracts of Excoecaria agallocha / Jayanta Ku Patra et al / IJIB, 2009, Vol 7, No 1,9

(7) Her s used in Siddha medicine for arthritis – A Review / Indian Journ of Traditional Knowledge, Vol 6(4), Oct 2007, pp 678-686

(8) Evaluation of Antidiabetic Activity of Excoecaria agallocha L. in Alloxan Induced Diabetic Mice / G.Thirumurugan; T.M.Vijayakumar; G.Poovi; K.Senthilkumar; K.Sivaraman; M.D.Dhanaraju / Natural Product An Indian Journal, Volume 6, Issue 1 (2010)

(9) ANTIBACTERIAL AND ANTIFUNGAL ACTIVITIES OF FATTY ACID METHYL ESTERS OF THE BLIND-YOUR-EYE MANGROVE FROM INDIA / G. Agoramoorthy,; M. Chandrasekaran,; V. Venkatesalu; M.J. Hsu / Brazilian Journal of Microbiology (2007) 38:739-742

(10) A study on antibacterial activity of mangrove plant Excoecaria agallocha / L. M. Prakash and T. Sivakumar* / Int.J.Curr.Microbiol.App.Sci (2013) 2(8): 260-262

(11) Triterpenoids and steroids from Excoecaria agallocha / Tian MQ, Bao GM, Ji NY, Li XM, Wang BG. / Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2008 Feb;33(4):405-8.

(12) ANTICANCER ACTIVITY OF EXCOECARIA AGALLOCHA LEAF EXTRACT IN CELL LINE MODEL / Ahmed John Syed Batsa and Kumar Periyasamy* / IJPBS |Volume 3| Issue 1 |JAN-MAR |2013|392-398

(13) Three New ent-Labdane Diterpenoids from the Wood of Excoecaria agallochaLinn. / Ponnapalli Mangala Gowri, Sri Vedavyasa Srirangaraja Radhakrishnan Bhattar, Poreddy Guruva Reddy et al / Helvetica Chimica Acta, Volume 92, Issue 7, pages 1419–1427, July 2009 / DOI: 10.1002/hlca.200800448

(14) Antihyperglycemic activity studies on methanol extract of Petrea volubilis L. (Verbenaceae) leaves and Excoecaria agallocha L. (Euphorbiaceae) stems / Corresponding Author: Dr. Mohammed Rahmatullah / FreeLibrary

(15) Studies on larvicidal potential of Excoecaria agallocha L. bark extract / Thirunavukkarasu, P.; Ramanathan, T.; Renugadevi, G.; Jayalakshmi, S. / Journal of Pharmacy Research; Oct2011, Vol. 4 Issue 10, p3480

(16) Anti Reverse Transcriptase and Anticancer activity of stem ethanol extracts of Excoecaria agallocha (Euphorbiaceae) / R. C. Patil, Sonal M. Manohar, Madhav V. Upadhye*, V.I. Katchi, Asha J. Rao, Abhishek Mule and Alpana S. Moghe / Ceylon Journal of Science (Bio. Sci.) 40 (2): 147-155, 2011

Sheikh Julfikar Hossain*, Hitoshi Aoshima, Magdi El-Sayed* and Firoj Ahmed / Pharmacologyonline 2: 927-936 (2009)

(18) Excoecaria agallocha / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED

Parts used and preparation
Latex, leaves, roots, bark

– Latex used in healing of obstinate ulcers.
– Smoke from burning wood used for leprosy.
– In New Guinea and Australia, juice used to cure ulcers and leprosy.
– Decoction of leaves used for epilepsy; also applied to ulcers.
– Roots, less poisonous than above-ground parts, are pounded with ginger and used to make embrocation for swellings of the hands and feet.
– Bark and wood used for flatulence.
– In India, seed poultice used for crippling arthritis.
– In Bangladesh, used for diabetes.


– Poison: In Southeastern Asia and New Caledonia, used as dart and fish poison.
Criminal use of trunk sap has been reported, including the poisoning of water with dried and powdered leaves.

Study Findings
• Pentacyclic Triterpenoids: Study isolated a new oleanane-type triterpenoid and five known pentacyclic triterpenoids. In the study, they were found inactive in vitro against several human cancer cell lines.
• Bioactivity Study / CNS Depressant / Antibacterial: Study on the ethanol extract of the bark showed profound dose-dependent decrease in exploratory activity, a marked sedative effect, and potentiation of sodium-thiopental-induced sleeping time. The extract also showed significant in vitro antibacterial activity against S aureus, S dysenteriae, S sonnei and Enterococci.
• Anti-Ulcer Activity / Gastroprotective: Study showed EA was able to decrease the acidity and increase the mucosal defense in gastric areas, justifying its use as an antiulcerogenic agent.
• Antibacterial Activity: Study showantibacterial activity against 12 microorganisms, the methanol extract showing more activity than the hexane and chloroform extracts. The leaves contain higher percentage of crude organic extracts with potential antibacterial and antifungal principle for chemotherapeutic application.
• Antioxidant: Study of the hydroalcohol extract of dried and ground bark of EA displayed significant antioxidant activities with significant inhibition of peroxidation effect al all concentrations.
• Antifilarial / Antioxidant: Study showed a dose-dependent positive response in induction of death in thedevelopmental stages of a metazoan filarial parasite, Setaria digitata. The aqueous extract also showed DPPH, radical scavenging activity, reducing power and hydrogen peroxide scavenging activity. EA presents a potential for meeting the oxidative stress during lymphatic filariasis in humans and for blocking embryogenesis in filarial parasites.
• Anticancer / Hedgehog / GLI Signaling Inhibitors: Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway inhibition has emerged as an anti-cancer strategy. Study yielded three flavonoid glycosides from E. agallocha A Hedgehog/GLI1-mediated transcriptional inhibitors and exhibited cytotoxicity against human pancreatic and prostate cancer cells.
• Antinociceptive / Gastroprotective: Study of alcoholic extract of bark from EA was evaluated in models of pain and ulceration. Results showed significant reduction in acetic acid induced writhings in mice, comparable to diclofenac sodium. An anti-ulcerogenic effect was also noted. The analgesic effect may be mediated via both peripheral and central mechanism.
• Antidiabetic / Hypoglycemic Effect: Study of crude ethanolic extract of leaves in normal and alloxan-induced wistar albino mice showed significant hypoglycemic and anti-hyperglycemic activities.
• Fatty Acids / Antibacterial / Antifungal: Study confirms the leaves of EA contain higher relative percentage of fatty acids ( lauric, palmitic, linolenic, linoleic, oleic, stearic and myristic acids) with potential antibacterial and antifungal principle for clinical application.
• Antibacterial: Study evaluated extracts of fresh and dried leaves, stems and roots for antibacterial activity against five pathogens, viz., Vibrio cholera, Salmonella typhi, Staphylococcus aureus, Proteus sp, and Enterobacter sp. Results showed the dried leaf sample to have a higher inhibitory activity against pathogenic bacteria than the fresh plant.
• Anticancer: Study evaluated a crude leaf extract for anticancer activity. Results showed an anticancer cell line activity. The cell viability was more in the methanol extract than the chloroform extracts at higher concentration in particular.
• New ent-labdane-type Diterpenoids: An extensive study of metabolites led to the isolation of three new ent-labdane-type diterpenoids, viz., agallochaexcoerins A-C, along with three known compounds
• Antihyperglycemic / Stems: Study of methanol extract of stems of E. agallocha exhibited greater potency than P. volubilis in the reduction of serum glucose levels. E. agallocha contains ß-amyrin acetate which has bee reported in some studies to possess antihyperglycemic properties.
• Larvicidal / Stems: Study evaluated the larvicidal activity against Culex quinquefasciatus, Anopheles stephensi, and Aedes aegypti. The highest mortality was found against A. stephensi. Results suggest the plants extracts of bark of E. agallocha may be considered a potential source of mosquito larvicidal agent.
• Anti-HIV / Anticancer / Stem: Study evaluated an active fraction of stem ethanol extracts for anti-HIV and anticancer properties. Fraction showed significant anti-reverse transcriptase activity, as good as the standard synthetic inhibitor. Same fraction showed potent cytotoxicity against pancreatic cancer cell lines.
• Anticancer / Apoptosis in Human Lung Cancer Cells: Study of an ethanol extract of stem exhibited remarkable cytotoxic activities on human lung cancer cell lines in a dose-dependent manner, through apoptotic cell death in p53+/+ cells and G1 arrest in p53-/- cells.
• Antioxidative / Anti-Histamine Release: Study showed water and ethanol dried powder bark extracts had high antioxidative and anti-histamine release activities. The inhibition of histamine release was attributed to the large amount of polyphenol content.