Spider lily

Family • Amaryllidaceae - Hymenocallis littoralis (Jacq.) Salisb. - BEACH SPIDER LILY

Scientific names

Pancratium littorale Jacq.
Pancratium illyricum Blanco
Pancratium maritinum Blanco
Hymenocallis adnata Herb.
Hymenocallis littoralis (Jacq.) Salisb.
Hymenocallis tennuiflora Herb.
Hymenocallis tennuiflora Herb.

Common names

Ajos-ajos nga maputi (Bis.)
Bakong (Tag..)
Lirio (Span.)
Spider lily (Engl.)
Beach spiderlily (Engl.)
Beach hymenocallis (Engl.)
Pancratium (Engl.)

Spider lily is a bulbous, herbaceous plant. Leaves are fleshy, crowded, dark green and glossy, narrowly lanceolate, 0.5 to 1 meter long, 6 to 7 centimeters wide. Scape is erect, solid, somewhat compressed, about 0.5 meter tall, bearing at its apex few to many, sessile, umbellate flowers. The flowers are fragrant with the perianth-tube greenish below and whitish above, about 12 centimeters long, the lobes linear, white, and spreading, 10 centimeters long and 5 to 7 millimeters wide. The membraneous cup connecting the filaments is white, funnel-shaped, 4 to 5 centimeters diameter. The anthers are green and erect.

Spider lily

– Cultivated as hedge in Manila and other large towns.
– Grows wild in waste places, through bulb reproduction.
– Found in a broad range of growing conditions, from wet and boggy to dry areas.
– Native of tropical America.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) A methylflavan with free radical scavenging properties from Pancratium littorale / Jean-Robert Ioset et al / Fitoterapia Vol 72, Issue 1, January 2001, Pages 35-39 / doi:10.1016/S0367-326X(00)00250-1

(2) Selective cytotoxicity of Pancratistatin-related natural Amaryllidaceae alkaloids: evaluation of the activity of two new compounds / Carly Griffin, Natasha Sharda et al / Cancer Cell Int. 2007; 7: 10. / doi: 10.1186/1475-2867-7-10.

(3) Lycorine alkaloids from Hymenocallis littoralis / Long-Ze Lin, Shu-Fang Hu et al / Phytochemistry Vol 40, Issue 4, November 1995, Pages 1295-129 / doi:10.1016/0031-9422(95)00372-E


(5) Antineoplastic Agents. 450. Synthesis of (+)-Pancratistatin from (+)-Narciclasine as Relay / George R Pettit, Noeleen Melody and Delbert Herald / J. Org. Chem., 2001, 66 (8), pp 2583–2587
DOI: 10.1021/jo000710n

(6) Phytochemical and biological investigation of Hymenocallis littoralis SALISB. / Amina H Abou-Donia, Soad M Toaima et al / Chemistry biodiversity (2008), Volume: 5, Issue: 2, Pages: 332-340 / PubMed ID: 18293433

(7) Antineoplastic Agents. 527. Synthesis of 7-Deoxynarcistatin, 7-Deoxy-trans-dihydronarcistatin, and trans-Dihydronarcistatin 1 / George Pettit and Noeleen Melody / J. Nat. Prod., 2005, 68 (2), pp 207–211
DOI: 10.1021/np0304518

(8) Anti-candida activity by Hymenocallis littoralis extracts for opportunistic oral and genital infection Candida albicans / Jeevandran Sundarasekar, Geethaa Sahgal, Sreeramanan Subramaniam / Bangladesh Journal of Pharmacology, Vol 7, No 3 (2012)

Spider lily4Constituents
– Yields a toxic alkaloid, lycorine, which is responsible for its emetic property. The roots contain 0.015 per cent of the alkaloid.
– Phytochemical screening yielded the presence of tannins, flavonoids, saponins, steroids, cardiac glycosides, and terpenoids.
– Pancratistatin isolated from the bulbs.

Spider lily2

– Emetic.
– Studies on lycorine has shown antineoplastic cytotoxic, and antiviral properties.

Spider lily3

Parts utilized
Bulb, roots.

– In the Philippines, the bulb is the only part of the plant used for wound healing.
– In Lao, roots boiled in water, used for testicles too low because of excessive running.
– Mixture of oil and crushed bulbs applied on face to treat freckles and blemishes.

Study Findings
• Methylflavan / Antioxidant:Study isolated 7,4′-dihydroxy-8-methylflavan from the extract of P littorale stem and assessed for its radical scavenging properties.
• Cytotoxicity: A 1993 study isolated pancratistatin (PST) from H littoralis which displayed potent cytotoxicity against a human tumor cell line. A recent study showed selectivity of PST to cancer cells and sparing of normal cells. This study investigated the anti-cancer efficacy and specificity of two PST-related natural compounds, AMD4 and AMD5. Results showed AMD5 had efficacy and selectivity similar to PST and AMD4 lacked apoptotic activity. The phenanthridone skeleton in natural Amaryllidaceae alkaloids may be a common element for selectivity against cancer cells.
• Anti-tumor: The biologic activities of isocarbostyril alkaloids showed excellent in vitro and in vivo cytotoxicity against many tumor cell lines and high selectivity for cancer cells versus normal cells.
• Lycorine Alkaloids / Littoraline / HI Reverse Transcriptase Inhibition / Cytotoxicity: Study isolated a new alkaloid, littoraline, with 13 other known lycorine alkaloids and one lignan. Littoraline showed inhibitory activity of HIV reverse transcriptase and lycorine and haemanthamine showed potent in vitro cytotoxicity.
• Pancratistatin / Anticancer: The species serves as an effective source of pancratistatin, a powerful anticancer agent. Pancratistatin is primarily produced in the bulbs, to a lesser extent, in the roots. The report describes a method for large-scale production. Narciclasine was employed as precursor for synthetic conversion to natural (+) pancratistatin.
• Alkaloids: Phytochemical screening of bulbs and flowers yielded four alkaloids: lycorine, hippeastrine, 11-hydroxyvittatine, and (+)-8-O-demethylmaritidine, plus two flavonoids, quercetin 3-O-glucoside and rutin. Study investigated the antimicrobial activity of a petroleum ether extract of the flowers.
• Narcistatin / Antineoplastic: Human cancer cell line inhibitory isocarbostyril precursors were isolated from the bulbs of Hymenocallis littoralis from the horticultural production or reduction of narciclasine 1a-4 from the same source.
• Anti-Candida Activity:Study evaluated the inhibitory activity of a methanol extract of various plant parts against Candia albicans. The flower and anther were effect at 6.25 mg/ml.
• Antimicrobial:Study evaluated an aqueous extract against three organisms: E. coli, S. aureus, and Candida albicans. Varied concentrations showed inhibitory activity against all the tested organisms.
• Antibacterial: Ethyl acetate and methanol extracts of leaves, flowers, and stem barks showed antibacterial activity against B. subtilis.