Indian tree

Family • Annonaceae - Polyalthia longifolia chinensis Benth. & Hook. f. - TREE OF INDIA

Other scientific names

Polyalthia longifolia chinensis Benth. & Hook. f.
Polyalthia longifolia var. pendula

Common names

Ashok tree (Engl.) Telegraph pole tree (Engl.)
Asoka tree (Engl.) She-kan (Chin.)
Mast tree (Engl.) Black berry lily (Engl.)
Sorrowless tree (Engl.)

Indian tree

Small- to medium-sized evergreeb tree growing up to 15 meters. Young plants have straight trunks and weeping pendeulous branche, longest at the base and shorter at the end of the trunk.. Leaves are long, narrow and oblanceolate, dark green, glossy and wavy margins. Flowers are delicate pale green with wavy petals. Fruits are ovoid, black when ripe.

Native to India and Sri Lanka, recently introduced in the Philippines and widely cultivated in metro Manila, planted in parks, gardens and roadsides.

Properties and constituents
• Leaf oil composed of sesquiterpene derivatives: allo-aromadendrene, caryophyllene oxide, ß-caryophyllene, ß-selinene, a-humulene and ar-curcumene.
• Phytochemical study on the hexane extract of the stem bark led to characterization of clerodane and ent-halimane deiterpenes, two of which have shown antibacterial and antifungal activities.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Detection of Amino Acids from the seeds of Polyalthia longifolia / Kavita S. Mundhe et al / International Journal of ChemTech Research, Vol.1, No.2, pp 298-299 , April-June 2009

(2) A New Clerodane-Type Butenolide Diterpene from the Bark of Polyalthia longifolia / J. Nat. Prod., 1992, 55 (2), pp 256–258 / DOI: 10.1021/np50080a021

(3) Sesquiterpenes-Rich Essential Oils of Polyalthia longifolia Thw. (Annonaceae) from Nigeria / Akinola O. Ogunbinu, Isiaka A et al /

(4) Assessment of anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective potency of Polyalthia longifolia var. pendula leaf in Wistar albino rats / A. Tanna et al / Journal of Natural Medicines / Volume 63, Number 1 / January, 2009 / DOI 10.1007/s11418-008-0288-2

(5) Evaluation of anti-ulcer activity of P. longifolia in experimental animals / P. malairajan et al / Indian J Pharmacol. 2008 June; 40(3): 126–128. / doi: 10.4103/0253-7613.42306.

(6) Cytotoxic Constituents of Polyalthia longifolia var. pendula / Chun-Yi Chen et al / J. Nat. Prod., 2000, 63 (11), pp 1475–1478 / DOI: 10.1021/np000176e

(7) Antibacterial potentiality and phytochemical analysis of mature leaves of Polyalthia longifolia (Magnoliales: Annonaceae) / Anupam Ghosh et al / The South Pacific Journal of Natural Science, Volume 26, 2008

(8) Hypotensive activity and toxicology of constituents from root bark of Polyalthia longifolia var. pendula / Rubeena Saleem et al / Phytotherapy Research, Vol 19 Issue 10, Pages 881 – 884 / 10.1002/ptr.1732

Indian tree2
Indian tree3

No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
In India’s traditional system of medicine, used for fever, skin diseases, hypertension and helminthiasis. Bark used as febrifuge.
In Nigeria, plant is used for skin disease, fever, diabetes and hypertension.

Bark is a good source of fiber.

Study Findings
• Amino Acids: Study showed the seeds of Polyalthia longifolia to be a rich source of various amino acids – proline, L-glutamic acid, and methionine among others.
• Phytochemical: Study isolated a new clerodane diterpene from the bark of P. longilofia.
• Antimicrobial / Alkaloids: Study showed the root extract of P. longifolia var. pendula to possess significant antibacterial activity. Study also led to the isolation of three new alkaloids: pendulamine A, pendulamine B and penduline along with other known compounds.
• Hepatoprotective / Antiinflammatory: Of various solvent extracts, study showed the methanol extract as the most potent, showing significant antiinflammatory (comparable to Diclofenac sodium) and hepatoprotective activity.
• Antifungal: Diterpenoids isolated from the hexane extract of the seeds of P. longilfolia demonstrated significant antifungal activity.
• Cytotoxic: Study isolated a new halimane diterpene and a new oxoprotoberberine alkaloid along with 20 known compounds, several of which were evaluated for cytotoxicity toward a small panel of human cell lines.
• Anti-ulcer: Study showed the ethanol extract of Polyalthia longifolia to have significant antiulcer activity through reduction of gastric volume, free acidity and ulcer index. It showed 89.71% ulcer inhibition in HCl-ethanol induced ulcer and 95.3% ulcer protection index in stress-induced ulcer.
• Antibacterial: Study of ethanol extract showed promising antibacterial activity against thirteen Gram-positive and nine Gram-negative organisms.
• Antibacterial / Phytochemicals: Study revealed the presence of steroids, alkaloids, biterpenoids, carbohydrates, amino acids, essential oil, pheolics and flavonoids. Highest antibacterial activity was seen with the hot aqueous (HAE) and methanol extract (ME) against K pneumonia, followed by E coli (HAE) and B subtilis (ME).
• Hypotensive / Phytochemicals: Phytochemical studies yielded kolavenic acid, clerodane, liriodenine, lysicamine and bisclerodane and its isomer. Study showed the defatted 50% methanol extract of P longifolia root bark with significant ability to reduce blood pressure.