Family • Caesalpinaceae - Caesalpinia sepiaria Roxb. - SHOOFLY - Yun shih

Scientific names

Caesalpinia sepiaria Roxb.
Caesalpinia benguetensis Elm.
Caesalpinia decapetala (Roth) Alston
Mezoneurum benguetense Elm.
Biancaea sepiaria (Roxb.) Todaro

Common names

Puto (Ig.)
Cat’s claw (Engl.)
Liane sappan (Engl.)
Shoofly (Engl.)
Yun shih (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

AFRIKAANS: Kraaldoring, Mauritiusdoring.
FRENCH: Bois Sappan.
KOREAN: Silgorinamu.
MALAGASY: Roimainty, Roinombilahy, Tsiafakomby, Tsifakombilahy.
URDU: Kander, Relan.
ZULU: Ubobo-Encane, Ufenisi, Ulozisi.

Puto is a straggling, perennial, woody, thorny, stout climber, vines growing up to 30 feet high. Branches are finely downy, with small yellow prickles. Leaves are two-pinnate, 25 to 40 centimeters long. Leaflets are 10 to 24, opposite, oblong, and 1 to 2.5 centimeters long. Flowers are large, bright chrome-yellow, and on terminal, large, erect racemes. Pod is smooth, nearly flat, obliquely oblong, 5 to 8 centimeters long and about 2.5 centimeters wide, and tipped with persistent style base. There are 4 to 8 oblong, mottled seeds.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Caesalpinia sepiaria – Yun Shih / Entheology

(2) Studies on chemical constituents of Caesalpinia decapetala (Roth) Alston / Li M, Zhang C, Chong L. / Zhong Yao Cai. 2002 Nov;25(11):794-5.

(3) Antioxidant Properties of the Methanol Extract of the Wood and Pericarp of Caesalpinia decapetala / C R Pawar and S J Surana / J Young Pharm. 2010 Jan-Mar; 2: 45–49. / doi: 10.4103/0975-1483.62212

(4) Chemical Constituents from the Stems of Caesalpinia decapetala / Qiong Zhang, Xue-Ting Liu, Jing-Yu Liang and Zhi-Da Min / Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines, Vol 6, Issue 3, May 2008, Pages 168-172 / doi:10.1016/S1875-5364(09)60015-7

(5) In Vitro Free Radical Scavenging Activity of Gallic Acid Isolated From Caesalpinia Decapetala Wood / Upendra Bhadoriya*, Praveen Sharma, Shailendra Singh Solanki / Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease (2012)

(6) Drug Release Studies from Caesalpinia pulcherrima Seed Polysaccharide / Somasundaram Jeevanandham*, Duraiswamy Dhachinamoorthi and Kothapalli Bannoth Chandra Sekhar / Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research (2011), 10 (3): 597-603

– In Isabela and the Benguet Provinces in Luzon, in thickets about limestone cliffs and boulder, at altitudes of 1,200 meters.
– Also occurs in India and Japan, and southward to Malaya.
– Introduced into tropical Africa, America and Australia.

– Study yielded seven compounds: lupeol acetate, lupeol, oleanoic acid, pentacosanoic acid 2,3-dihydroxypropyl ester, 1-(26-hydroxyhexacosanoyl)-glycerol, stigmasterol, and beta-sitosterol.
– Ethanol extract of stems yielded seven compounds: 6′-hydroxy-3, 4-(1′′-hydroxy-epoxy-propane)-2′, 3′-(1′′β-hydroxy-2′′′-carbonyl-cyclobutane)-1, 1′-diphenyl, octacosyl 3, 5-dihydroxycinnamate, 2′, 4, 4′-trihydroxychalocone, bonducellin, 7, 3′, 5′-trihydroxyflavanone, daucosterin, and β-sitosterol.

Mysore thorn Caesalpinia decpetala caesalpinoid pea Mbeya, but widespread naturalized from E asia DG.AFR1


– Purgative, astringent, anthelmintic , antipyretic, antimalarial.
– Reported as psychoactive and hallucinogenic.

Parts used
Leaves, seeds, roots.


– Roots are considered purgative.
– In Chamba, the bruised leaves are applied to burns.
– Seeds are considered astringent, antipyretic, anthelmintic, and antimalarial.
– Used for the treatment of ague.
– In China, decoction of flowers used to expel intestinal worms. Plant also used for malaria and skin affections. In excess, use reported to cause idiocy.
– In india, plant decoction used for baths in treatment of jaundice. Leaves are used for burns, biliousness and stomach problems. Also used as laxative, tonic, and antipyretic.

– In southern India, bark is used for tanning.
– In Chinese herbal medicine, flowers reported to have magical properties, producing levitation and communication with spirits. Preparations of crushed and powdered seeds combined with seeds of Hyoscyamus niger (lang-tang) made in incense possess psychoactive properties when burned. Decoction of flowers drunk as tea to communicate with spirits or dispel evil forces.

Study Findings
• Anti-Implantation: C. sepiaria is one of nine plants in a study that confirmed the plants have anti-implantation effect.
• Antidiarrheal: On 182 plants studied, C. sepiaria was one of 28 flowering plants with antidiarrheal activity.
• Antioxidant: Study of methanol extracts from the wood and pericarp of C. decapetala showed significant concentration and dose-dependent antioxidant activity. Total phenols, flavonoids and total flavonols were higher in the pericarp than the wood.
• Gallic Acid / Radical Scavenging Activity : Study investigated the antioxidant capacities and phenolic contents of gallic acid isolated from Caesalpinia decapetala. The total phenolic content was 4.31%. Isolated Gallic Acid showed significant in vitro free radical scavenging activity.
• Caesaldecan / Cassane Diterpenoid: Study isolated a new cassane diterpenoid, caesaldecan, from the leaves, together with eight known compounds viz. spathulenol, 4,5-epoxy-8(14)-caryophyllene, squalene, lupeol, trans-resveratrol, quercetin, astragalin, and stigmasterol.
• Seed Gum As Drug Release Vehicle: Seed gum isolated from C. pulcherrima kernel powder can be used for controlled release of both water-soluble and water insoluble drugs.