Record display

Record Number


PROSEA Handbook Number

12(3): Medicinal and poisonous plants 3


Acrotrema costatum Jack


Mal. Misc. 1(5): 36 (1820).



Chromosome Numbers

2n = unknown

Vernacular Names

Malaysia: meroyan punai tanah (Pahang, Peninsular). Thailand: pot khon, wan chai maha prap, san tao (peninsular).

Origin and Geographic Distribution

Southern Burma (Myanmar), peninsular Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia and northern Sumatra; possibly also in Bangka.


Acrotrema costatum has been mentioned in Peninsular Malaysia as one of the many plant resources used as protective medicine after childbirth.


The presence of the flavonoids apigenin and luteolin has been recorded for Acrotrema costatum. 0.12% (dry weight) of betulinic acid (a triterpene) has been found in Acrotrema uniflorum Hook. from Sri Lanka. Several flavonoids have been isolated from the latter, of which kaempferol and quercetin occur in the largest amounts.


A small perennial herb with a horizontal woody rhizome. Leaves in a rosette or on a very short stem and then arranged spirally, simple, obovate, 7—25 cm x 3—10 cm, dentate, auriculate at base, hairy, deep green, usually with a whitish or greyish area along the midrib or marked with red; petiole 1—2(—6) cm long. Inflorescence a terminal erect raceme, red-hairy, bracteate, up to 12-flowered. Flowers regular, 5-merous, bisexual, opening singly, c. 3 cm in diameter; petals yellow; stamens numerous, in 3 bundles; carpels 3. Fruit a follicle enclosed by the persistent sepals, irregularly dehiscent, with up to 15 seeds. Seeds finely echinate, with a white aril.
Acrotrema comprises 9 species, 7 of which are endemic to Sri Lanka and 1 to southern India.


Acrotrema costatum occurs in dense rain forest, also in secondary forest, often on moist shady rocks, up to 1000 m altitude. It is common in many localities.

Silviculture and Management

Acrotrema costatum can be cultivated successfully under partial shade, but hard soils and strong sunlight are not suitable. Leaf litter provides nutrients and conserves moisture around plants, and is therefore recommended.

Genetic Resources

Acrotrema costatum has a rather limited area of distribution and is largely confined to dense lowland rain forest, a habitat which is under increasing pressure. Therefore, it is likely to be liable to genetic erosion, although it is still locally common. The presence of genetic diversity is reflected in a fair morphological variation, but this has not yet been investigated.


Very little is known about Acrotrema costatum. There is little prospect of any increase in its importance as a herbal medicine, which is now minor. However, the presence of flavonoids, of which some have proven anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic activities (e.g. apigenin, luteolin and quercetin) in Acrotrema costatum and related species might be a starting point for research. It may have ornamental value because of its decorative foliage and flowers.


[121]Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Revised reprint. 2 volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Co- operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Vol. 1 (A—H) pp. 1—1240, Vol. 2 (I— Z) pp. 1241—2444.
[247]Flora Malesiana (various editors), 1950—. Foundation Flora Malesiana. Rijksherbarium/Hortus Botanicus, Leiden, the Netherlands.

Other Selected Sources

[249]Flora of Thailand (various editors), 1970—. The Forest Herbarium, Royal Forest Department, Bangkok, Thailand.
[331]Hegnauer, R., 1962—1997. Chemotaxonomie der Pflanzen [Chemotaxonomy of plants]. 11 volumes. Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, Switzerland.
[731]Perry, L.M., 1980. Medicinal plants of East and Southeast Asia. Attributed properties and uses. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States & London, United Kingdom. 620 pp.


H.C. Ong

Correct Citation of this Article

Ong, H.C., 2003. Acrotrema costatum Jack. In: Lemmens, R.H.M.J. and Bunyapraphatsara, N. (Editors): Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(3): Medicinal and poisonous plants 3. PROSEA Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia. Database record:

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