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Record Number


PROSEA Handbook Number

16: Stimulants


Actephila excelsa (Dalzell) Muell. Arg.




Actephila bantamensis Miquel, Actephila dispersa (Elmer) Merrill, Actephila javanica Miquel.

Vernacular Names

Philippines: lambonan (Tagbanua), toyokan (Cebu Bisaya), tungkaling (Subanun). Vietnam: da g[af], ch[ef] d[aj]i.


From India and Assam to Burma (Myanmar), Indo-China, Thailand and throughout the Malesian region except for the Lesser Sunda Islands and the Moluccas.


In the eastern Himalayas the dried leaves are used to make a pleasant tasting tea, but the mucilaginous leaves have no special aroma and contain no alkaloids.


A monoecious, evergreen shrub or small tree up to 11 m tall; bole up to 18 cm in diameter. Leaves arranged spirally, crowded; stipules small; petiole 0.5—7 cm long; blade elliptical-ovate, 9—30 cm x 4—12.5 cm, entire, glabrous, apex acuminate. Flowers in axillary, very short racemes with a few female flowers at base and male ones above; sepals 5, imbricate; petals 5, shorter than the sepals; disk large; male flower on a pedicel up to 2 mm long, sepals about 2.5 mm long, stamens 5, free; female flower long pedicellate, sepals up to 7 mm long, ovary 3-locular with 2 ovules in each cell, styles short, basally connate. Fruit a woody capsule, 1.5 cm x 2.5 cm, seated on the slightly enlarged calyx. Actephila excelsa is generally reported from lowland forest, but is found up to 1000 m altitude in Java. In Peninsular Malaysia and Thailand it is often found on limestone, but elsewhere it has been reported from swamp margins, slopes, ridge forest and scrub forest. Three varieties are distinguished: var. excelsa with short-petioled, glossy leaves occurring from India to Burma (Myanmar); var. acuminata Airy Shaw with short-petioled, dull leaves occurring in Indo China, Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia; and var. javanica (Miquel) Pax & K. Hoffm. with long-petioled leaves occurring in the Malesian region. The latter variety is occasionally distinguished at the species level.

Selected Sources

[1] Airy Shaw, H.K., 1972. The Euphorbiaceae of Siam. Kew Bulletin 26: 191—363.
[2] Airy Shaw, H.K., 1975. The Euphorbiaceae of Borneo. Kew Bulletin Additional Series 4. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, United Kingdom. 245 pp.
[3] Airy Shaw, H.K., 1980. The Euphorbiaceae of New Guinea. Kew Bulletin Additional Series 8. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, United Kingdom. 243 pp.
[4] Airy Shaw, H.K., 1981. The Euphorbiaceae of Sumatra. Kew Bulletin 36: 239—374.
[6] Backer, C.A. & Bakhuizen van den Brink Jr, R.C., 1963—1968. Flora of Java. 3 volumes. Wolters-Noordhoff, Groningen, the Netherlands. Vol. 1 (1963) 647 pp., Vol. 2 (1965) 641 pp., Vol. 3 (1968) 761 pp.
[15] Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Slightly revised reprint of the 1935 edition. 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.
[28] Gagnepain, F., 1907—1950. Flore générale de l'Indo-Chine [General flora of Indo-China]. 7 volumes & supplement. Masson & Cie, Paris, France.
[38] Koorders, S.H. & Valeton, T., 1894—1915. Bijdrage tot de kennis der boomsoorten van Java [Contribution to the knowledge of the tree species of Java]. 13 parts. G. Kolff & Co., Batavia/'s-Gravenhage, Indonesia/the Netherlands.
[46] Merrill, E.D., 1923—1926. An enumeration of Philippine flowering plants. 4 volumes. Bureau of Printing, Manila, the Philippines.
[75] Whitmore, T.C. & Ng, F.S.P. (Editors), 1972—1989. Tree flora of Malaya. A manual for foresters. 4 volumes. Malayan Forest Records No 26. Longman Malaysia Sdn. Berhad, Kuala Lumpur & Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.


M.S.M. Sosef

Correct Citation of this Article

Sosef, M.S.M., 2000. Actephila excelsa (Dalzell) Muell. Arg.. In: van der Vossen, H.A.M. and Wessel, M. (Editors): Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 16: Stimulants. PROSEA Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia. Database record:

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