Family • Sonneratiaceae - Sonneratia acida Linn. - FIREFLY MANGROVE - Hai song

Scientific names

Sonneratia acida Linn.
Sonneratia caseolaris (L.) Engl.
Sonneratia neglecta Blume
Sonneratia obovata Blume
Sonneratia ovalis Korth.
Rhizophora caseolaris L.

Common names

Hikau-hikuan (Tag.)
Ilukabban (Ibn.)
Lukabban (Ibn.)
Pagatpat (Tag.)
Palatpat (Tag.)
Payar (Pang.)
Cork tree (Engl.)
Firefly mangrove (Engl.)

Other vernacular names

CAMBODIA: ‘Am’-pie.
INDONESIA: Pidada, Perepat, Bogem.
MALAYSIA: Pedada, Berembang, Perepat.
MYANMAR: Tapoo, Tamoo.
VIETNAM: B[aaf]n chua.

Hikau-hikauan is a shrub or tree reaching a height of 20 meters or less, with the trunk reaching a maximum diameter of 50 centimeters. Leaves are very thick, leathery, oblong to elliptic-oblong, 4 to 10 centimeters long, 2 to 4 centimeters wide, somewhat pointed at the tip, and tapering to a nearly blunt base. Flower is solitary. Calyx is green, 2.5 to 3 centimeters long, and comprises six segments which are longer than the tube. Petals are six, linear, pink or white, about as long as the calyx- segments. Fruit is hard, rounded-depressed, 3 to 4 centimeters in diameter, surrounded nearly to the middle by the calyx-tube; the persistent lobes are spreading. Seeds are numerous.


– Along small tidal streams near the limits of salt or brackish water; rarely on the open beach.
– Occurs in China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Thailand.

– Bark contains a moderate proportion of tannin.
– Yields active constituents: phenolic compounds such as gallic acid and two flavonoids luteolin and luteolin 7-O-ß-glycoside.
– Study of stems and twigs isolated twenty-four compounds, including 8 steroids (1-8), nine triterpenoids (9-16,24), three flavonoids (20-22), and four benzenecarboxylic derivatives (17-19, 23).
– Phytochemical screening of bark tissue yielded high amounts of phenolics, flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids, and saponins.
– Study of petroleum ether extracts of roots isolated two compounds: lupeol (C30H50O) and betulinaldehyde (C30H50O2).


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Flavonoids from Sonneratia caseolaris / Samir Kumar Sadhu, Firoj Ahmed et al / Journal of Natural Medicines, Volume 60, Number 3 / July, 2006

(2) Pharmacological studies of plants in the mangrove forest / Nuntavan Bunyapraphatsara, Aranya Jutiviboonsuk, Prapinsara Sornlek et al / Thai Journal of Phytopharmacy Vol.10(2) Dec. 2003

(3) Sonneratia caseolaris (L.) Engler / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED

(4) Antimicrobial Studies of Sonneratia caseolaris Using Different Agar Diffusion Method / Jongjan Mahadlek, Thawatchai Phachamud*, Chantana Wessapun / Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Sciences, Jan-Mar 2012, Vol 3, No 1

(5) Oleanolic acid – an α-Glucosidase inhibitory and antihyperglycemic active compound from the fruits of Sonneratia caseolaris / Ashok Kumar Tiwari,*, V. Viswanadh, Ponnapalli Mangala Gowri, Amtul Zehra Ali, S.V.S. Radhakrishnan, Sachin Bharat Agawane, K. Madhusudana, Janaswamy Madhusudana Rao / Journal of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Vol. 1(1): 19-23

(6) Chemical constituents of marine medicinal mangrove plant Sonneratia caseolaris / Minqing Tian, Haofu Dai, Xiaoming Li, Bingui Wang / Chinese Journal of Oceanology and Limnology, May 2009, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 288-296

(7) Chemical constituents from the fruits of Sonneratia caseolaris and Sonneratia ovata (Sonneratiaceae) / Shi-Biao Wu, Ying Wen, Xu-Wen Li, Yun Zhao, Zheng Zhao, *, Jin-Feng Hu, * / Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 37 (2009) 1–5

(8) Evaluation of antinociceptive and antioxidant properties of the ethanolic extract of Sonneratia caseolaris leaves / Md. Sariful I. Howlader*, Shubhra K. Dey, Arpona Hira, Arif Ahmed / Der Pharmacia Sinica, 2012, 3 (5):536-541

(9) ANTIMICROBIAL AND ANTIOXIDATIVE ACTIVITIES IN THE BARK EXTRACTS OF SONNERATIA CASEOLARIS, A MANGROVE PLANT / Aritra Simlai, Archana Rai, Saumya Mishra, Kalishankar Mukherjee, Amit Roy* / EXCLI Journal 2014;13:997-1010

(10) Antinociceptive and antidiarrhoeal activities of Sonneratia caseolaris / F Ahmed, IZ Shahid*, B Baksi and SK Sadhu / Oriental Pharmacy and Experimental Medicine 2007 7(3), 274-279

(11) Antioxidant and Anticholinesterase Activities in Various Parts of Sonneratia caseolaris (L.) / P. Wetwitayaklung,* C. Limmatvapirat, and T. Phaechamud / Indian J Pharm Sci. 2013 Nov-Dec; 75(6): 649–656.

(12) GÓP PHẦN KHẢO SÁT THÀNH PHẦN HÓA HỌC CỦA VỎ RỄ BẦN (SONNERATIA CASEOLARIS L. / Lê Thanh Phước và Từ Minh Tỏ / Tạp chí Khoa học 2012:21a 129-133

– Fruit is slightly acid.
– Considered astringent and antiseptic.
– Reported antioxidant and cytotoxic.

Parts used

Edibility / Culinary
– Fruit eaten raw or cooked.
– Fruit, slightly acidic, used as food; also for making vinegar.
– Leaves consumed in certain areas.
– Fruit used to flavor curries and chutnies.

– Fruit used as poultice in sprains and swellings.
– Used for piles.
– Fermented juice useful in arresting hemorrhage.
– Wall of old fruit used as vermifuge.
– Half-ripe fruits used for treating cough.


– Air roots used for making wooden soles of women’s slippers (korcho) and of bottle stoppers.
– Referred to as corktree, because fishermen make fishing net floats out of the pneumatophores.
– Wood also used as firewood.

Study Findings
• Antimicrobial / Cytotoxicity: Study isolated nine compounds from the fruits of S caseolaris. Screened against a rat glioma C-6 cell line, compounds 1, 2 and 6 were found to show moderate cytotoxic activity and suggests a potential foundation for further chemotaxonomic studies.
• Flavonoids / Antioxidant: Study yielded two flavonoids, luteolin and luteolin 7-O-B-glucoside. Both compounds showed to possess antioxidant activity.
• Antioxidant: Of 57 samples of 32 species tested, the calyces of Sonneratia caseolaris exhibited strong antioxidant activity followed by stamens of S. caseolaris. It also exhibited strong anti-lipid peroxidation.(3)
• Antimicrobial / Seed: A methanolic seed extract showed inhibition of Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans. Gallic acid showed activity against only S. aureus. Tested extracts showed antibacterial activity against Propionibacterium acnes.
• Antihyperglycemia / α-Glucosidase Inhibitory Activity / Fruits: A methanolic extract of fruit of Sonneratia caseolaris showed moderate intestinal α-glucosidase inhibitory. Study isolated three compounds: oleanolic acid, ß-sitosterol=ß-D-glucopyranoside and luteolin.
• Cytotoxicity / Stems and Twigs: Study of stems and twigs isolated 24 compounds. In in-vitro cytotoxic assay against SMMC-7721 human hepatoma cells, compound 21 (3′,4′,5,7-tetrahydroxyflavone) exhibited significant activity.
• Cytotoxic Compounds / Fruits: Study isolated nine compounds from the fruit of S. caseolaris. (-)-(R)-nyasol, (-)-(R)-40-O-methylnyasol and maslinic acid were found to show moderate cytotoxic activity against a rat glioma C-6 cell line.
• Antinociceptive / Antioxidant / Leaves: Study evaluated an ethanolic extract of leaves for antinociceptive and antioxidant activities. Results showed statistically significant writhing inhibition in acetic acid induced writhing model in white albino mice. On DPPH scavenging assay, the antioxidant activity was comparable to standard ascorbic acid.
• Antimicrobial / Antioxidant / Bark: Study suggests Sonneratia caseolaris bark is a potential source of bioactive compounds with stable antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, with potential for use as antimicrobial/antioxidative agents for clinical, pharmaceutical and food processing applications.
• Antinociceptive / Antidiarrheal / Leaves: Study screened a crude ethanol extract of leaves for antinociceptive and antidiarrheal activities. Results showed significant writhing inhibition in acetic induced writhing in mice, with diclofenac sodium as standard drug. In castor oil induced diarrhea in mice, there was increased latent period and significant decrease in frequency of defecation. Loperamide was used as standard.
• Anticholinesterase Activity: Tacrine, stamen extract and seed extract by maceration using methanol showed noncompetitive inhibition on acetylcholinesterase activity., while luteolin, luteolin glycoside and calyx extract seed extract showed partial noncompetitive inhibition on acetylcholinesterase activity.