Stemona tuberosa Lour.

Last updated: 08 Dec 2016

Scientific Name

Stemona tuberosa Lour.


Roxburghia gloriosa Pers., Roxburghia gloriosoides Roxb., Roxburghia stemona Steud., Roxburghia viridiflora Sm., Stemona acuta C.H.Wright, Stemona gloriosa (Pers.) J.J.Sm., Stemona gloriosoides Roxb., Stemona gloriosoides Voigt, Stemona tuberosa var. tuberosa. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Kemili hutan, [2] galak tua, janggut adam, ubi kemili [3]
English Tuber stemona [2]
China Bai bu, pai pu, [2] da bai bu [3]
India Kaniputeega [3]
Indonesia Isoratu, kanyalut, ngabalo [2]
Thailand Non taai yak [2][3]
Vietnam B[as]ch b[ooj], bach bo, c[ur] ba m[uw][ow]i, d[aa]y d[ej]t [as]c [2]
Korea Majunapaekpu. [3]

Geographical Distributions

Stemona tu­berosa is found from continental Southeast Asia, Hainan and Taiwan throughout Malaysia, from the Philippines southwards to the Lesser Sunda Islands, the Moluccas and Papua. [4]

Botanical Description

S. tuberosa is a member of Stemonaceae family. [3][4]

The root is compounded of many, smooth, cylindric, fleshy tubers from 15-20 cm long tapering equally towards each end. [3]

The stems are twining, smooth and running over trees. Branches like the stem are round, smooth and slender. [3]

The leaves are sometimes alternate and sometimes opposite, petioled, nearly depending, cordate, fine-pointed, entire, smooth, shining, in substance soft and delicate, generally eleven-nerved, with beautifully very fine transverse veins running between the nerves; measures from 10-15 cm long and 7.5-10 cm wide. The petioles are slightly channel, smooth measures 3-5 cm long. The peduncles axillary in shape, single, erect and the length of the petioles are generally two-flowered. The pedicels are clubbed and short. The bractes are one with lanceolate, at the base of the pedicels. [3]

The flowers are large and beautiful but foetid. The calyx has four-leaves; leaflets lanceolate, membranaceous, striated, coloured, revolute and placed immediately below the petals. The corolla has four petals, nearly erect, lanceolate which the lower half is rather broader than the upper, and along its inside runs a deep, sharp, slightly waved keel, which forms on each side of it a deep groove, or hollow. These four keels converge and in some measure adhere together, which brings the side of the petals close so as to resemble a tube while the upper part of the petals is narrow, first bending out a little, then converging at their points. The nectary composed of four, lanceolate, yellow bodies, each sitting sessile on the apex of the keel of the petals, converging into one conical dome. There are no filaments. There are eight anthers, linear lodged in the grooves formed by the keel of the petals, adhering their whole length, but their chief insertion is near the base. The germ is superior, cordate, compressed, one-celled with many ovula attached to the bottom of the cell, cordate. There are no style.. The stigmas are pointed. [3]

The capsule is ovate in shape, compressed, one-celled, two-valved, opening from the apex; measures about 3 cm long and 2 cm broad. [3]

The seeds from five to eight inserted by pedicels into the bottom of the capsule, cylindric, striated; the pedicels are surrounded with numerous, small, pellucid vesicles. [3]


S. tuberosa is found in beach vegeta­tions, coastal forests, undergrowths in thick scrub, primary forests along rivers and fields at low alti­tudes not far from the coast, on loamy soils and sandy tuff. [4]

Chemical Constituent

Crude extract of S. tuberosa has been reported to contain Stemona alkaloid namely neotuberostemonine, tuberostemonine J, tuberostemonine H, epi-bisdehydrotuberostemonine J, and nostenine. [5]

Plant Part Used

Roots [6]

Traditional Use

In Malaysia the roots of S. tuberosa are being used to treat cough and chest pains. [3] The Chinese recently recognized the anti-tussive activity and used it to treat cough related to acute or chronic bronchitis and bronchial asthma. [6]

The paster of the roots of S. tuberosa in wine is applied on the scalp to treat infestations with lice. [6]

Preclinical Data


Antitussive activity 

Isolation of 5 stenine-type alkaloids from the root of S. tuberosa where out of the five tuberstemonine and neostenine were found to had significant antitussive activity. It is also found that the saturated tricyclic pyrrolo[3,2,1- jk] benzazepine nucleus is the primary key structure contributing to the antitussive activity and all cis configurations at the three ring junctions are the optimal structure for the antitussive activity of stenine-type Stemona alkaloids. [5]

Another study isolated 5 other stemonine type alkaloids from the crude extract of S. tuberosa and reported that bisdehydrostemonine had significant antitussive activity. [7]

Further studies isolated another 5 minor alkaloids from the roots of S. tuberosa has found another two alkaloids with strong antitussive activity which were stemoninoamide and stemonine compounds. [8]

Apart from the stenine-type alkaloids, non-stenine type alkaloids namely croomine and stemoninine isolated from the roots of S. tuberosa too have significant antitussive activites. [9]

Antimicrobial activity 

Dihydrostilbene 8 isolated from the roots of S. tuberosa exhibited strong antibacterial activity against Bacillus pumilus[10]

Anticancer activity 

Dichloromethane fraction extract of the root of S. tuberosa has been demonstrated to exhibit anticancer activity against medullary thyroid carcinoma cell lines. Results reported that the dichloromethan fraction showed strong apoptotic effects on human medullary thyroid carcinoma providing hope for patients suffering from this poorly chemotherapeutic responsive tumour. [11]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation.


Avoid an over dosage because of the slightly toxic effect of the herb. Oral administration of this herbal decoction in large amounts or an overdose causes heartburn, dryness of the mouth, nose, and pharynx, dizziness, chest discomfort, short of breath, anorexia, and paralysis of the respiratory center. [6]

Case Report

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of S. tuberosa [4]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Stemona tuberosa Lour. [homepage on the Inetrnet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 26; cited 2016 Dec 08]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume V R-Z. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 397-398.
  3. Norhayati I, Zharil I, Muzlifah AM. Malaysian medicinal plant index. Kuala Selangor: Victus Semulajadi, 1999; p. 61.
  4. Thin NN. Stemona tuberosa Lour. In: van Valkenburg JLCH, Bunyapraphatsara N, editors. Plant resources of South-East Asia No. 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 2001; p. 513-516.
  5. Chung HS, Hon PM, Lin G, But PP, Dong H. Antitussive activity of Stemona alkaloids from Stemona tuberosa. Planta Med. 2003;69(10):914-920.
  6. Joseph PH, Youyu J. The healing power of Chinese herbs and medicinal recipes. New York: Howorth Press, 2005; p. 370–372.
  7. Lin LG, Zhong QX, Cheng TY, et al. Stemoninines from the roots of Stemona tuberosa. J Nat Prod. 2006;69(7):1051-1054.
  8. Lin LG, Li KM, Tang CP, et al. Antitussive stemoninine alkaloids from the roots of Stemona tuberosa. J Nat Prod. 2008;71(6):1107-1110.
  9. Xu YT, Hon PM, Jiang RW, et al. Antitussive effects of Stemona tuberosa with different chemical profiles. J Ethopharmacol. 2006;108(1):46-53.
  10. Lin LG, Yang XZ, Tang CP, Ke CQ, Zhang JB, Ye Y. Antibacterial stilbenoids from the roots of Stemona tuberosa. Phytochemistry. 2008;69(2):457-463.
  11. Li ZX, Sturm S, Stuppner H, et al. The dichloromethane fraction of Stemona tuberosa Lour inhibits tumor cell growth and induces apoptosis of human medullary thyroid carcinoma cells. Biologics. 2007;1(4):455-463.