Family • Iridaceae - Eleutherine palmifolia (Linn.) Merr. - YELLOW-EYED GRASS

Scientific names

Eleutherine palmifolia (Linn.) Merr.
Eleutherine plicata Herb.
Sisyrinchium palmifolium Linn.
Antholyza meriana Blanco

Common names

Ahos-ahos (C. Bis.)
Bakong sa Persia (Tag.)
Hagusahis (S. L. Bis.)
Mala-bauang (Tag.)
Mala-bawang (Tag.)
Palmilla (Span.)
Rosas sa Siam (Tag.)


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) New WntB-Catenin Signaling Inhibitors Isolated from Eleutherine palmifolia / Xiaofan Li, Takashi Ohtsuki et al / Chemistry – An Asian Journal, Volume 4 Issue 4, Pages 540 – 547 / DOI 10.1002/asia.200800354

(2) Antagonistic activity of Eleutherine palmifolia Linn / Kalidass Subramaniam*, Sembian Suriyamoorthy, Femina Wahab, Febina Bernice Sharon, Gilbert Ross Rex / Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease (2012)S491-S493

Mala-bawang is a plant with bulbs about 4 centimeters long, ovoid-oblong, and narrowed at both ends, the outer layers thin, and purple. Leaves are lanceolate, 3 to 4 from each bulb, 30 to 50 centimeters long, 1.5 to 3 centimeters wide, narrowed at both ends, and plicate. Scapes are rather slender, as long as the leaves, and green. Spathes are 10 to 12 millimeters long, the outer two are green, the inner ones very much thinner, and greenish-white. Flowers are white, about 2 centimeters in diameter, with obovate spreading lobes.


Introduced, now naturalized.
Occasionally in waste places about towns.
Sometimes, planted for ornamental purposes.

– Phytochemical screening of bulb yielded phenols, sterols, phlobatannins, proteins, steroids, tannins, and reducing sugar.

– Traditionally used as diuretic, vermifuge, abortifacient, antifertility agent.

Parts used


– Macerated bulbs applied on the stomach of children to relieve gas pains.
– Decoction of bulbs used as diuretic.
– Bulbs used by vermifuge, for dysmenorrhea, and as abortive and antifertility agent.
– In Thailand, the herb is one of ten herbal constituents of the prasaplai recipe, used in ancient gynecological practice for relieving dysmenorrhea and controlling mensuration.

Study Findings
• Cytotoxicity / Anti-Tumorigenesis: Study yielded 15 naphthalene derivatives, including 4 new glucosides, eleutherinosides B-E. Two of the compounds showed dose-dependent inhibition of transcription of TCFB-catenin in SW480 colon cancer cells and selective cytotoxicity against three colorectal cancer cell lines. Aberrant WntB-catenin signaling has recently been implicated in tumorigenesis.
• Radical Scavenging Activity / Antimelanogenesis: In a study evaluating medicinal plants from Kalimantan for antimelanogenesis, the bulbs of Eleutherine palmifolia showed DPPH radical scavenging activity and strongly inhibited the melanin production of B16 melanoma cells without significant cytotoxicity suggesting its potential as ingredient for skin whitening cosmetics.
• Prasaplai in Dysmenorrhea: E. palmifolia is one of 10 herbal constituents used in ancient Thai medicine for dysmenorrhea. Study showed Prasaplai caps have efficacy in relieving dysmenorrhea, although less than NSAIDs.
• Antimicrobial: An ethanol extract of bulb was tested against multidrug resistant pathogens. Extract showed a potential source of antimicrobial agent against methicillin resistant Staphy aureus and Acinebacter baumannii, with an antimicrobial activity higher than standard antibiotics.