Graptophyllum pictum L Griffith



Justicia picta, Graptophyllum

Common names: Caricature plant; benalu (Malay); daun ungu (Indonesian); baitawng (Thai); morado (Filipino).

[From Greek, graptos = painted and phullon = leaf and from Latin, pictum = variegated]

Physical description: It is a shrub which grows to a height of 1.5 m. The plant is native to Papua New Guinea and is grown to be ornamental. Leaves: simple, opposite, and without stipules. The blade is 8 cm-20 cm x 3 cm-13 cm, oblong-lanceolate, cuneate at the base, variegated with white and undulate. The flowers are arranged in axillary panicles of 3cm-12cm long. The calyx is 3 mm long. The corolla is tubular, dark red and 2cm-3cm long.

Uses: In Malaysia, a decoction of the leaves is drunk to relieve the bowels of costiveness, heal hemorrhoids, expel gallstone, and to assuage liver discomfort. A paste of the leaves is applied externally to heal cuts, wounds, and ulcers, and to soothe swollen parts. The juice expressed from the plant is used to assuage earache.

Pharmaceutical interest: An etha-nolic extract of leaves of Graptophyllum pictum (L.) Griffith given per os to rodent displays anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties (Ozaki Y et al., 1989) in which iridoid glycosides or phenylethanoid glycosides might be involved.

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