Family • Nyctaginaceae - Pisonia aculeata Linn. - DEVIL'S CLAW - Xian guo teng

Scientific names

Pisonia aculeata Linn.
Pisonia helleri Standl.
Pisonia yaguapinda D. Parodi

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Zhu gou du, Ci teng, Bi shuang huo, Qi tou guo.
FRENCH: Garabato prieto.
INDONESIA: Alar, Cuhun-lamarang, Ram pari.
THAI: Khat, khao, Ma kang phee, Huu cha luang.
VIETNAM: B[if] s[ow]n nh[oj]n, Tuy[ees]n qu[ar] d[awf]ng.

Common names

Digkit (Tag.)
Kabai (Mbo.)
Kolifafo (Ibn.)
Mankit (Tag.)
Marinoai (Mbo.)
Paangtikling (Tag.)
Pakat-aso (Tag.)
Panakla (Tag.)
Puriket (Ilk.)
Puriket-ti-bakir (Ilk.)
Cockspur (Engl.)
Devil’s claw (Engl.)
Pullback (Engl.)
Pull-back-and-hold (Engl.)
Thorny pisonia (Engl.)
Xian guo teng (Chin.)

Digkit is a large, climbing shrub, smooth or slightly hairy, with pendulous branches, armed with solitary, axillary, recurved spines, which are about 1 centimeter long or less. Leaves are shining, ovate-oblong to elliptic, 6 to 10 centimeters long, with both ends pointed. Flowers are borne in axillary and terminal, peduncled, corymbose cymes. Male flowers are yellowish-white, bell-shaped, 4 to 5 millimeters in diameter. Female flowers are ovoid and obscurely toothed. Fruit is narrowly oblong or clavate, 5-ribbed, 7 to 14 millimeters long, viscid, with muricate ribs, with several rows of glands.


– From northern Luzon to Mindanao, in thickets and open forests at low and medium altitudes.
– Pantropical.
– Found from subtropical America to Africa, to Burma, Indo-China, throughout Southeast Asia to New Guinea and northern Australia.


– Studies have yielded alkaloids, glycosides, triterpenes, flavonoids, and phenolic compounds.
– Methanol extract of combined stem and root yielded three new chromones, pisonins A, B, and D, two new flavonoids, pisonivanone [(2S)-5,7,2′-trihydroxy-8-methylflavanone] and pisonivanol [(2R,3R)-3,7-dihydroxy-5,6-dimethoxyflavanone], one new isoflavonoid, pisonianone (5,7,2′-trihydroxy-6-methoxy-8-methylisoflavone) and five compounds first isolated from nature, namely, pisonins C, E, and F, pisoniamide, and pisonolic acid, together with 18 known compounds.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Hepatoprotective and Antioxidant Effect of Pisonia aculeata L. against CCl4- Induced Hepatic Damage in Rats / Muthu Gounder Palanievel et al / Sci Pharm. 2008; 76: 203–215 doi:10.3797/scipharm.0803-16

(2) Effects of ethanol extract of Pisonia aculeata Linn. on ehrlich ascites carcinoma tumor bearing mice / Raju Senthilkumar et al / Intern Journ of Green Pharmacy / 2008, Volume 2 / Issue : 1 / Page : 50-53

(3) Protective effect of Pisonia aculeata on Rifampicin and Isoniazid induced hepatotoxicity in rats / C. Anbarasu, B. Rajkapoor, J. Kalpana / Intl Journ of Phytomedicine, Vol 3, No1, 2011

(4) Protective effect of Pisonia aculeata on paracetamol induced hepatotoxicity in rats / Chinnasamy Anbarasu, Balasubramanium Rajkapoor et al / J Exp Integr Med / doi: 10.5455/jeim.040511.or.008

(5) Antitubercular Chromones and Flavonoids from Pisonia aculeata / Ming-Chun Wu, Chien-Fang Peng et al / J. Nat. Prod., 2011, 74 (5), pp 976–982 / DOI: 10.1021/np100857

(6) Pisonia aculeata / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED

(7) Antitumor Activity of Methanolic Extract of Pisonia Aculeata Leaf / Ghode, Shweta P.; Rajkapoor, B.; Subbraju, T. / International Journal of Phytomedicine, May2011, Vol. 3 Issue 2, p172

(8) Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antioxidant activities of Pisonia aculeata: Folk medicinal use to scientific approach / Saikat Sen, Raja Chakraborty, B. Rekha, D. Revathi, S. Chinna Ayyanna, G. Hemalatha, G. Ashok Kumar Reddy, S. Hyndavi, P. Jeevan Ikhyatha Babu, P. Ravi Prakash, C. Sridhar / Pharmaceutical Biology, April 2013, Vol. 51, No. 4 , pp 426-432 / doi:10.3109/13880209.2012.738331

(9) Anti-ulcer activity of Pisonia aculeata on Pylorus ligation induced gastric ulcer in rats / Ch. Madhulatha*, P. Sharaish, G. Kalyani, G.S.Sushma, N.Siva Subramanian and B. Archana Devi / Int. J. of Pharm. & Life Sci. (IJPLS), Vol. 4, Issue 3: March: 2013, 2440-2443 2440

(10) ANTI-DIABETIC ACTIVITY OF PISONIA ACULEATA LEAF IN ALLOXAN INDUCED DIABETIC RATS/ Syed Mamoon Hussain*, Ayesha Yasmeen, M. Rama Devi, N. Siva Subramanian, Mohammad Suleman Hussain / IJPBS |Volume 3| Issue 2 |APR-JUN |2013|379-383

(11) Protective effect of Pisonia aculeata on thioacetamide induced hepatotoxicity in rats / C Anbarasu,* B Rajkapoor, KS Bhat, John Giridharan, A Arul Amuthan, and K Satish / Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2012 July; 2(7): 511–515. / doi: 10.1016/S2221-1691(12)60087-2

(12) Acute and Subacute Toxicity Studies of the Methanol Extract from Leaves of Pisonia Aculeata LINN. /
Shweta P. Ghode*, B. Rajkapoor / Int. J. Pharm. Sci. Rev. Res., 20(1), May – Jun 2013; no 29, 171-175


– Studies have shown anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, hepatoprotective, antioxidant, analgesic properties.

Parts used
Bark and leaves.

– In the Philippines, decoction of fresh leaves used to wash scabies.
– Bark and leaves used as counterirritant for swellings and rheumatic pains.
– Juice mixed with pepper and other ingredients given to children suffering from pulmonary complaints.
– A popular medicinal plant in indigenous medicinal systems in India, Tibet, China and Korea.
– Used for treatment of scabies and as counterirritant for swellings and rheumatic pains.


Study Findings
• Hepatoprotective / Antioxidant: Study results showed a remarkable hepatoprotective and antioxidant properties of P. aculeata against CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity in rats.
• Anti-Tumor: Study on the ethanol extract of P. aculeata leaves on Ehrlich Ascites Carcinoma in mice was shown to possess significant dose-dependent anti-tumor activity.
• Hepatoprotective / Rifampicin and INH-Induced Hepatotoxicity: Methanolic extract of leaves showed a remarkable hepatoprotective and antioxidant activity against rifampicin- and isoniazid-induced hepatotoxicity in rats.
• Hepatoprotective / Paracetamol-Induced Toxicity: Plant extract showed a remarkable hepatoprotective and antioxidant activity against paracetamol-induced hepatotoxicity. The activity was comparable to standard drug silymarin.
• Antitubercular Chromones and Flavonoids: Study yielded three new chromones, pisonins A, B, and D; two new flavonoids, pisonivanone and pisonivanol; one new isoflavonoid, pisonianone; and five other compounds, pisonins C, E, and F, pisoniamid and pisonolic acid, together with 18 known compounds. Isolates 2, 6, 14, 16, and 19 exhibited antitubercular activities against Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv in vitro.
• Antitumor / Leaves: Study evaluated the antitumor activity of a methanolic extract of leaves on Erlich Ascites Carcinoma (EAC) in mice with tumor induced by intraperitoneal injection. Results showed dose-dependent increase in survival time and inhibition in weight gain of the tumor bearing mice.
• Anti-Inflammatory / Antioxidant / Analgesic: Study showed analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities of P. aculeata leaves. Observed biological activities could be correlated with the flavonoid and phenolic compounds in the extract.
• Antiulcer / Leaves: Various leaf extracts showed significant anti-ulcer activity in pylorus ligation-induced gastric ulcer model in albino rats.
• Antidiabetic / Leaves: Study evaluated ethyl acetate and ethanolic extract of leaves on alloxan-induced diabetes in rats. Both extracts exhibited significant hypoglycemic effect, together with reduction in BUN, serum creatinine, and serum cholesterol.
• Hepatoprotective / Antioxidant / Thioacetamide-Induced Hepatotoxicity: Study showed a P. aculeata extract possesses remarkable hepatoprotective and antioxidant activities against TAA-induced hepatotoxicity.
• Acute and Subacute Toxicity Testing: Study of methanolic extract of leaves was shown to be fairly nontoxic on oral acute and subacute toxicity testing in rats.