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Dianella ensifolia


Dracaena ensifolia, Dianella nemorosa, Dianella parvilora.

Vernacular Names:


Siak-siak, Siak-siak Basya, Siak-siak Jantan, Setagit, Senjuang, Benjuang, Lenjuang Benar, Meroyan Bangkai, Meroyan Bungkus,Ketih Ayam

English Sword-leaf Draceana, Flax Lily, Umbrella Dracaena

Jamaka, Jambaka, Labeh-labeh, Menuntil, Suliga, Tegari, Tengari, Rumput Siak-siak


Cay Huong Lau


Shan Jian Lan

Hing Kong

Sarn Garn Lam



General Information


Dianella ensifolia is a member of the Hemerocallidaceae (Lilliaceae) family. It is a rhizomatous tufted herb that can reach up to 1m high. The leaves are grass-like, coriaceous, green, smooth on the keel and edges, in 2 rows, measuring 20-60cm long, sheathed below clasping the stem at the base. The flowers are bluish or white in a terminal panicle. The panicle is obversely deltoid, lax, measures 30cm long. The pedicels measuring 1-2cm long, articulated at the tip; bracts small and linear. The perianth measures 1-1.5cm long, blue or rarely white. The anthers measure 5mm long, twice as long as the filaments. The filaments are thickened. The berries are globose, deep blue, measure 0.7-1cm across. [2] [5]

Plant Part Used

Rhizome, roots, leaves [1] [6]

Chemical Constituents

2,4-dihydroxy-6-methoxy-3-methylacetophenone; 5,7-dihydroxy-2,6,8-trimethylchromone; 5,7-dihydroxy-2,8-dimethylchromone (isoeugenitol); methyl 2,4-dihydroxy-3,5,6-trimethylbenzoate, methyl 2,4-dihydroxy-3,6-dimethylbenzoate; methyl 2,4-dihydroxy-6-methylbenzoate (methyl orsellinate); musizin (dianellidin) [1]

Traditional Used:

Gastrointestinal Diseases

In Indonesia the roots of D. ensifolia are used deworming, while in Malaysia a poultice applied to the abdomen is believed to help the process of deworming. The plant is also used to treat dysentery. [4] [6]

Infectious Diseases

The sliced roots of D. ensifolia are sundried, pulverised and used as topical application locally on lesions like furunculosis, abscesses, lymphangitis, tuberculous lymphadenitis and tinea. It is also used on traumitic injuries and wounds. Ashes of the roots and leaves are used for herpes. [1] [6]

Obstetrics and Gynaecology

The roots of D. ensifolia is considered a general tonic for women. It is given in a decoction to women in the immediate post-partum period (meroyan). It is also used in the treatment of leucorrhoea and dysuria. [6]

Pre-Clinical Data


Thyrosinase inhibitor activity

Within the plant substance of D. ensifolia is the most potent thyrosinase inhibitor i.e. 1-(2,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-3-(2,4-dimethoxy-3-methylphenyl)propane. It is 22 times more potent than Kojic acid in inhibiting murine tyrosinase. This compound was found to inhibit melanin formation both in mouse melanoma cells B16F1 and human primary melanocytes without any cytotoxic activity. In a reconstructed skin model (MelanoDerm) topical application of 0.1% UP302 resulted in significant skin lightening and decrease of melanin production without effects on cell viabilty, melanocyte morphology and overall tissue histology. [7]In a recent study on the efficacy of formulated cosmetic cream containing extracts of Dianella ensifolia containing 1-(2,4-dihydrophenyl)-3-(2,4-dimethoxy-3-methylphenyl) propane Thomas Mammone et al. [8] found that their formula produced an increase in the rate of fading compared to two pharmaceutical formulae containing 4% hydroquinone.

Antioxidant activity

Extracts of D. ensifolia containing 1-(2,4-dihydrophenyl)-3-(2,4-dimethoxy-3-methylphenyl) propane (DP), which was found to inhibit the free radical 1-1-diphenyl-2-picryl-hydrazyl (DPPH) with an EC50 value of 78μm. DP was also found to inhibit Ultraviolet (UV)C-induced lipid oxidation with an EC50 of about 30μm. [8]


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Used in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

No documentation

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation

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  1)  Botanical Info


    1. Unesco, Takeatsu Kimura, Ji-Xian Guo, Chung Ki Sung International Collation of Traditional and Folk medicine – Northeast Asia, Part 3 World Scientific Publishing Singapore 1998 pg. 159
    2. Hsuan Keng, See Chung Chin, Ro-Siu Ling Keng, H.T.W. Tan The Concise Flora of Singapore: Monocotyledons Singapore University Press Singapore 1998 pg. 6
    3. Merrill Loureiro’s “Flora Cochinchinensis” in Transaction of the American Philosophical Society (Vol 24, Part 2, 1935-June) American Philosophical Society Philadelphia 1935 pg. 105
    4. Alan M. Stevens Kamus Lengkap Indonesia Inggris Ohio University Press Athens 2008 pg. 931
    5. John Gilbert Baker Flora of Mauritius and the Seychelles: A Description of the Flowering Plants Asian Educational Services New Delhi 1999 pg. 377
    6. Johor Biodiversity Database  ( Accessed 16th September 2010
    7. Nesterov A, Zhao J, Minter D, Hertel C, Ma W, Abeysinghe P, Hong M, Jia Q. 1-(2,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-3-(2,4-dimethoxy-3-methylphenyl)propane, a novel tyrosinase inhibitor with strong depigmenting effects. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2008 Sep;56(9):1292-6.
    8. Thomas Mammone PhD, Neelam Muizzuddin PhD,  Lieve Declercq PhD, Dominique Clio PhD,  Hugo Corstjens PhD,  Ilse Sente PhD,  Katrin Van Rillaer PhD, Mary Matsui PhD,  Yoko Niki PhD,  Masamitsu Ichihashi PhD,  Paolo U. Giacomoni PhD, Dan Yarosh PhD Modification of skin discoloration by a topical treatment containing an extract of Dianella ensifolia: a potent antioxidant Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology June 2010 Volume 9(2): 89–95

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