Family • Nyctaginaceae - Pisonia alba Spanoghe. - LETTUCE TREE - Jiao guo mu

Scientific names

Pisonia alba Spanoghe.
Pisonia umbellifera (J. R. Forst. et G. Forst) Seem.

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Pi sun mu.
DUTCH: Moluksche kool.

Common names

Koles-maluko (Tag.)
Maluko (Tag.)
Cabbage tree (Engl.)
Lettuce tree (Engl.)
Wire lettuce (Engl.)
Jiao guo mu (Chin.)

Maluko is an erect, unarmed, smooth or nearly smooth tree, attaining a height of 10 meters. Leaves are thin, very pale green or greenish yellow – those at the end of branches being nearly white- oblong-ovate, 12 to 15 centimeters long, with pointed apex and rounded base. Flowers are borne in terminal, dense, corymbose cymes. Male flowers are white or greenish-white, about 6 millimeters long. Female flowersare smaller. Fruit is long-pedicelled, club-shaped, 12 to 18 millimeters long, 5-angled, each angle bearing one row of prickles.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) a-Glucosidase Inhibitory and Antidiabetic Activities of Ethanolic Extract of Pisonia alba Span. Leaves / Christudas Sunil et al / IJIB, 2009, Vol 6, No 1, 41.

(2) Subacute toxicity study of crude extract of Pisonia alba Span. leaves on rat liver and heart / Sugaporn Prasettho, Somsamorn Chittrakarn and Uraporn Vongvatcharanon /Songklanakarin Journal of Science and Technology, 2003, Vol 25, No 4, Pp 515-524

(3) Novel synthesis of silver nanoparticles using leaf ethanol extract of Pisonia grandis (R. Br) / M. Jannathul Firdhouse, P. Lalitha* and Shubashini K. Sripathi / Der Pharma Chemica, 2012, 4(6):2320-2326

(4) Chemical constituents and antitubercular activity of Formosan Pisonia umbellifera / Hsiou-Ting Kuo, Chien-Fang Peng, Hung-Yi Huang, Chu-Hung Lin, Ih-Sheng Chen, Ian-Lih Tsai / Planta Medica (impact factor: 2.15). 11/2010; 77(7):736-41 / DOI:10.1055/s-0030-1250534

– Ornamental cultivation for its yellow leaves
– Introduced.
– Seldom flowering in the Philippines.
– Also occurs in tropical Asia and Malaya.


– Methanolic extract of stem of Pisonia umbellifera yielded three new compounds, secopisonic acid, 6,8-dimethylisogenistein, and (+)- ENT-ficusol, with four first isolates from nature, pisoninol pisoninol II, pisoquinoline and pisodienone, together with 15 known compounds.

Considered carminative, anti-inflammatory.

Parts used

– In Ceylon and Bombay, young tender lettuce-tasting leaves are eaten.
– In the Philippines, leaves used for cooking fish wrapped in it.
– Fresh leaves moistened with Eau-de-Cologne used to subdue elephantoid inflammation of the legs.
– Leaves cooked or eaten by people suffering from arthritis or rheumatism.
– Leaves used as carminative, to expel flatulence.
– In traditional Indian medicine, used as an anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory; used in the treatment of algesia, ulcer, dysentery and snake bites.

Study Findings
• Blood Glucose Lowering / Antioxidant: Treatment of alloxan diabetic wistar rats with P. alba extracts caused a significant reduction of blood glucose levels. It also exhibited potent antioxidant effects on DPPH assay testing. There was also near-normal restoration of histological architecture of the liver, kidney and pancreases in the alloxan-induced diabetic rats.
• Anti-Diabetic / a-Glucosidase inhibitory Activity: Extract exhibited a-glucosidase inhibitory activity in a concentration-dependent manner. Results indicate P. alba extract is effective in hyperglycemia and also protects from metabolic aberrations caused by alloxan.
• Subacute Toxicity Study: Study showed the crude extract of P. alba leaves at the dose of 2 g/kg has not toxic effect on the liver and heart of rats.
• Silver Nanoparticles / Leaf Extract: Metal nanoparticles have unique optical, electronic, mechanical, magnetic and chemical properties. Nanotechnology impacts all spheres of human life. An effective technique for the reduction of silver into silver nanoparticles was achieved using the ethanolic extract of leaves of Pisonia grandis R. Br (synonym Pisonia alba).
• Chemical Constituents / Antitubercular: Methanolic extract of stem of Pisonia umbellifera yielded three new compounds, secopisonic acid (1), 6,8-dimethylisogenistei, and (+)- ENT-ficusol, with four first isolates from nature, pisoninol pisoninol II, pisoquinoline and pisodienone, together with 15 known compounds. Seven of the isolates showed antitubercular activities against Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37R(V) in vitro with MC ≤50 µg/mL.