Family • Vitaceae - Leea indica (Burm. f.) Merr. - BANDICOOT BERRY - Yan tuo

Scientific names

Leea indica (Burm. f.) Merr.
Leea sambucina Linn.
Staphylea indica Burm. f.
Aquilicia sambucina Willd.

Common names

Amamali (Bis.)
Hamamali (Bis.)
Mali (Tag.)
Mamali (Bag., Bis.)
Nutub (Sul.)
Bandicoot berry (Engl.)
Yan tuo (Chin.)


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Evaluation of antioxidant and nitric oxide inhibitory activities of selected Malaysian medicinal plants / L Saha, N H Lajis et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 92, Issues 2-3, June 2004, Pages 263-267
/ doi:10.1016/j.jep.2004.03.007

(2) Leea indica Ethyl Acetate Fraction Induces Growth-Inhibitory Effect in Various Cancer Cell Lines and Apoptosis in Ca Ski Human Cervical Epidermoid Carcinoma Cells / Wong Yau Hsiung and Habsah Abdul Kadir / Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2011/ doi:10.1155/2011/293060

(3) Chemical Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of the Essential Oil of Leea indica Flowers / G V Srinivasan, P Sharanappa, N K Leela et al / Natural Product Radiance, Vol 8, No 5, Pp 488-493.

Mali is a shrub with straight branches. Leaves are pinnate or tripinnate, 90 to 120 centimeters long. Leaflets are extremely variable in size and shape. Flowers are greenish-white. Fruit is small.

– In thickets at low altitudes in Mindoro, Mindanao, Panay, and the Sulu Archipelago.
– Rare in the Philippines.
– Also occurs in India to Indo-China, the Malay Peninsula, Java, Sumatra, and Borneo.

– Study of leaves of Leea indica yielded twenty-three known chemical compounds including 11 hydrocarbons, phthalic acid, palmitic acid, 1-eicosanol, solanesol, farnesol, three phthalic acid esters, gallic acid, lupeol, b-sitosterol and ursolic acid.
– Phytochemical screening isolation a novel carotenoid, leeatene, and nine other known compounds including squalene, hexadecanoyl-0-amyrin, vitamin E, 1 – tetratriacontanol, P-amyrin, 3-hydroxy-12-oleanen-28-oic acid, Psitosteryl- P-D-glucopyranoside, 2a,3a,23-trihydroxy-12-oleanen-28-oiacc id and phloridzin.


– Root considered cooling, digestive, thirst-quenching.
– Elsewhere considered anticancer, antioxidant, antidiabetic, antidiarrheal, antidysenteric, antispasmodic.

Parts used
Roots, leaves.

– Decoction of roots used in colics and for relieving thirst.
– In Goa, roots used for diarrhea and chronic dysentery.
– Roasted leaves applied to the head to relieve vertigo.
– Leaf juice applied on the head for dizziness or vertigo.
– Juice of young leaves used as digestive.
– In La Reunion, roots used as sudorific.
– Jakuns reported to use poultice of leaves for body pains.
– Paste of roots applied to relieve skin complaints with rashes and allergic reactions.


Study Findings
• Antioxidant: Study of extracts from Leea indica and Spermacoce articularis showed strong DPPH free radical scavenging activity comparable with standard quercetin, BHT and vitamin C. Leea indica also showed strong inhibitory activity on nitric oxide production.
• Anti-Cancer: Several extracts and fractions were evaluated for cytotoxicity on various cell lines. The ethyl acetate fraction showed the greatest cytotoxic effect against Ca Ski cervical cancer cells via induction of growth suppression and apoptosis effects. It presents a potential as an anticancer drug.
• Anti-Cancer / Antioxidant: Study yielded a nove carotenoid, leeatene, and 9 other known compounds. Compounds 3, 7 and 10 exhibited antioxidant activity, while compounds 1, 2, 4, 7 and 9 showed cytotoxicity against different cancer cell lines.
• Essential Oil Constituents / Antimicrobial: Study showed more than 95% of the oil consisted of esters of phthalic acid. The essential oil showed moderate antibacterial activity against three Gram positive and two Gram negative and three pathogenic fungi.