Horsfieldia irya Gaertn Warb

[After Thomas Horsfield (1773-1859), an American doctor and botanist who took service in the Dutch East Indies]

Physical description: It is a medium-sized tree found in the swampy rainforests of the Asia-Pacific. The bark shows diamond-shaped short fissures and exudes a red sap after cutting. Leaves: simple, alternate and exstip-ulate. The blade is oblong-lanceolate, 14cm-20cm x 4cm-5cm, and shows 10-20 pairs of arching secondary nerves. The flowers are tiny with a bilobed perianth cup. The fruits are globose, dehiscent, yellowish-red and 1.5 cm x 1 cm drupes. The seed is embedded in a non-divided aril [Fig. 16(a)].

Pharmaceutical interest: Nothing is known so far about the pharmacological properties of Horsfieldia irya (Gaertn.). Note that the plant is known to elaborate 5,7-Dihydroxychromones and 8-hydroxytetrahydrochromones which might have anti-inflammatory properties but this remains to be confirmed experimentally.

The fruit of Horsfieldia amygdaline contains a chroman which dose-dependently and competitively inhibits the enzymatic activity of phospholipase A2 of rabbit platelets, with an IC50 value of 6.7mM (Miyake A et al., 1992). Methanolic extracts of leaves, roots and the stem bark of Horsfieldia helwigii show a broad spectrum of antibacterial activity (Khan MR et al., 2001).

Synonymy: Horsfieldia lemmania (A. DC.) Warb.

Common name: Penarahan pianggu (Malay).

Uses: In China, the red sap of Horsfieldia irya (Gaertn.) Warb. is used to soothe sore throat. In Malaysia, a decoction of the bark is used to soothe sore throat.

Continue reading here: Knema globularia Lamk Warb

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