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Family Arecaceae
Calamus rotang L.

Scientific names Common names
Calamus monoecus Roxb. Ratan (Tag.)
Calamus rotang L. Rattan (Engl.)
Calamus roxbutghii Griff. Common rattan (Engl.)
Calamus scipionum Lam. Rattan cane (Engl.)
Palmijuncus monoecus (Roxb.) Kuntze  
Rotang linnaei Baill.  
Rotanga calamus Crantz  
Draco rotang Crantz  
Calamus rotang L. is an accepted name. Plants of the World Online

Other vernacular names
GERMANY: Rattanpalme.
KANNADA: Betasu.
MALAYALAM: Arichural, Chooral.
SRI LANKA: Heen-wewel, Polonnaru-wewel, Wewel, Pirambu, Vetra-vetasa.
SWEDISH: Indisk ritting,
TAMIL: Permabu.

Gen info
- Calamus is a genus of flowering plants in the palm family, Arecaceae, with an estimated 400 species in the genus, all native to tropical and subtropical Asia, Africa, and Australia.. (11)
- Rattans are naturally found in the Philippine dipterocarp forests and are distributed throughout the country. Four genera, namely Calamus, Daemonorops, Korthalsia, Plectocomia, with 64 species are found in the country.
- Calamus, with 44 species and 23 varieties, is the largest of the four genera. It is widely distributed, with some species as narrow endemics and confined to specific islands or mountains. Daemonorops is the second largest genus with 14 species and one variety, also widely distributed, many of which are confined to islands and mountains. (12)
- Plectocomia species in the Philippines are P. elmeri, which is endemic in the Philippines, and P. elongata, which is common in Thailand, the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, and Borneo
- Calamus rattan species in the Philippines: Abuan (Calamus diepenhorstii), Apas (C. reyesianus), Arorog (C. javaensis), Arugda (C. arugda), Babuyan (C. usitatus), Balala (C. multinervis), Banakbo (C. megaphyllus), Bayabong (C. manillensis), Borangan (C. ornatus), Butarak (C. vidalianus), Dagdag (C. siphonospathus), Dalimban (C. melanorhynchus), Ditaan (C. ochrolepis), Douung-douung (C. cumingianus), Hamlis (C. discolor), Kalapit (C. microcarpus), Kulakling (C. microsphaerion), Kurakling (C. spinofolius), Labit (C. microsphaerion), Lambutan (C. halconensis var. dimorphacanthus), Limuran (C. ornatus), Matkong (C. mitis), Palaklakanin sumulid (`Daemonorops ochrolepis), Palanog (C. symphysipus), Palasan (C. merrillii), Panlis (C. ramulosus), Pitpit (C. curranii), Sababai (C. elmerianus), Saba-ong (C. grandifolius), Sarani (C. moseleyanus), Sika (C. caesius), Tumalim (C. mindorensis). (12) (13)
- In the Philippines, rattan is a significant source of domestic products and furniture export commerce.
- Rattan were historically known as Manila cane or Malacca cane, base on their trade origins.

Calamus rotang, a dioecious rattan palm, is a slender thicket forming climbing rattan palm; stem with leaf-sheath 8-16 mm in diameter; internodes 40 cm or more long. Leaves are ecirrate, up to 80 cm long; leaf sheath with distinct knee, armed with scattered, broad-based 1 cm long yellowish spines, each pointing downwards; flagellum slender, about 2 m long; petiole absent' leaflets numerous, equidistant or sub-equidistant, linear to lanceolate, 1-nerved, 10-15 cm long, 1.5 cm wide at the middle; midnerve with 2 hooks on the upper side and uniformly spinulose below; uppermost leaflets smallest. Male inflorescence flagelliform; axial part strongly aculeate; rachillae scorpioid, 12-35 cm long, with 5-12 approximate male flowers on each side of the rachilla; in male flowers corolla deeply divided into 3 segments. Female inflorescence flagelliform; partial inflorescences 15-20 cm long with 5-8 rachillae on each side; each arch-like with divaricate neuter flower. Fruit globose, apiculate, 1.3-1.5 cm long, 1.2 cm broad at the middle; fruit scales in 221 longitudinal series, finally channeled at the middle; seed flattened, 8 mm in diameter. (2)

The basal section of the plant grows vertically for 10 meters or more, after which the slender tough stem of a few centimeters in diameter grows horizontally for 200 meters or more. It is extremely flexible and uniform in thickness, with sheaths and petioles frequently armed with backward-facing spines. Leaves are pinnate and alternate, 60-80 cm long, armed with two rows of spine on the upper face. Edible fruits are top-shaped, covered with shiny, reddish-brown imbricate scales, and exude an astringent resin referred to as "dragon's blood." (1)

- Cultivated.
- Native to India, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar.

- Methanol extract of seeds yielded tannins, alkaloids, saponins, and flavonoids. ((observation. (see study below) (4)
- Phytoconstituent study of roots yielded flavonoids, steroids, triterpenoids and glycosides. (see study below) (5)
- Crude methanolic extract of leaves steroids, saponins, glycosides, cardenolides, flavonoids, carbohydrates, and reducing sugars. (see study below) (10)

- Rhizomes are astringent, acrid, and bitter.
- Studies suggest antioxidant, antidiabetic, hypolipidemic, CNS depressant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, immunoadjuvant, thrombolytic, antiproliferative, anticancer, hepatoprotective properties.

Parts used
Leaves, fruits, seeds, roots.


- Fruit is edible; exudes ab astringent red resin, which is refereed to as "dragon's blood."
- Young leaves are edible, eaten as vegetable.
- Roots used to treat hemorrhoids, cough, leprosy, bleeding disorders and inflammation.
- In Sri Lanka, decoction of underground parts including roots used orally for control of blood glucose in diabetic patients. (18)
- In India, the Reang of South Tripura use roots for the treatment of insomnia, asthma, and chronic fever. (21)
- Crafts: Used for making baskets, walking sticks,
cane furniture, walking-sticks, umbrellas, tables, chair bottom, hammocks, and general wickerwork.

Antioxidant / Leaves and Fruits:
Study evaluated the antioxidant activity of crude methanolic extracts of leaves and fruits of Calamus rotang using four in vitro methods viz. total antioxidant activity, flavonoid and phenol content, and DPPH scavenging activity. Gallic acid equivalent was highest in the fruit extract while the quercetin equivalent was highest in the leaf extract. IC50s of leaf and fruit by DPOPH assay were comparable to standard antioxidant, 387.95, 142.01, and 25.826 µg/mL for leaf, fruit, and ascorbic acid, respectively. (3)
CNS Depressant / Analgesic / Anti-Inflammatory / Seeds: Study evaluated a methanolic seed extract of Calamus rotang for CNS depressant (hole cross test and open field test), analgesic (acetic acid induced writhing and formalin induced pain) and anti-inflammatory (carrageenan induced paw edema) activities in rats. The methanolic seed extract significantly (p<0.01) showed the evaluated pharmacologic effects in a dose-dependent manner. Acute oral toxicity study using OECD guidelines showed the extract to be safe up to 1,600 mg/kg with no behavioral change or mortality during a 48 hour observation. (see constituents above) (4)
Immunomodulatory / Roots: Study evaluated the immunomodulatory activity of aqueous extract of Calamus rotang root in human whole blood and peripheral blood mononuclear cells using hepatitis B vaccine (HBsAg) as antigen. Results showed remarkable increase in the number of blood counts. It showed the same pattern in nitric oxide production and estimation of CD14 FITC surface marker in human PBMC. (see constituents above) (5)
Immunoadjuvant / Humoral and Cell Mediated Immunity / /Leaves: Study evaluated the immunoadjuvant activity of aqueous extract of Calamus rotang leaves using phosphate buffered saline against hepatitis B vaccine containing surface antigen (HBsAg). Results showed additive adjuvant activity against hepatitis B antigen and may help raise antibodies against HBsAg under challenging administration regimen. Results suggest a potential as a potent vaccine adjuvant. (6)
Antidiarrheal / Hypoglycemic / Seed: Study evaluated the antidiarrheal and hypoglycemic effects of Calamus rotang seed extract in alloxan induced diabetic rats. Using castor-oil induced diarrhea test, the extract showed pronounced, significant (p<0.01) anti-diarrheal activity in a dose dependent manner, At higher dose, the extract showed similar antidiarrheal effect as standard loperamide. The extract showed significant reduction (p<0.01) in blood glucose. Although metformin reduced blood glucose more rapidly,, at high doses the extent of blood glucose reduction was approximately the same. (7)
Biomorphous Porous Hydroxyapatite-Ceramics from Rattan: The three-dimensional, highly oriented pure channel anatomy of native rattan was used as template to fabricate biomorphous hydroxyapatite ceramics designed for bone regeneration scaffolds. (8)
Immunosuppressive / Saponins / Leaves: Study evaluated the immunosuppressive activity of various doses of crude saponins extracted from leaves of Calotropis gigantea, Calamus rotang, and Artocarpus integrifolia on lymphocytes, monocytes, and granulocytes count. All three medicinal plants exhibited inhibition of monocytes and granulocyte counts. Also, the saponins inhibited nitric oxide and increased hemolytic activity in higher doses. Results suggest the saponins from the three plants showed immunosuppressive activity. (9)
Thrombolytic / Analgesic / Leaves: Study evaluated a crude methanolic extract of leaves for phytoconstituents, analgesic and thrombolytic activities. Using acetic acid writhing method for analgesic evaluation, the extract at 200 and 400 mg/kg doses reduced abdominal writhing by 31.06% and 44.33%, respectively. The extract presented 16.2% ± 1.75% of human blood clot lysis in the thrombolytic testing. The pharmacologic activity may be due to phytoconstituents. (see constituents above) (10)
Hepatoprotective / Carbon Tetrachloride Toxicity / Leaves: Study evaluated the antioxidant and hepatoprotective effects of ethyl acetate extract of C. rotang at dose of 350 mg/kg on CCl4 induced hepatotoxicity in rats. Results showed CR extract protects liver tissue through suppression of TNF-α, arginase, and PPARα induced by CCl4, as well as its enhancement of the antiapoptotic Bcl-2 protein. Fourteen polyphenols were identified. Naringin- rutin, 7-hydroxy flavone, and ellagic acid compounds exhibited the highest affinity and inhibition of pro-apoptotic protein BH3 via molecular docking study. R The potent hepatoprotective effect was attributed to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-steatosis, and antiapoptotic properties. (15)
Anti-Inflammatory / Rhizome: Study of 95% ethanolic extract of rhizome of Calamus rotang exhibited anti-inflammatory activity in carrageenan-induced paw edema and cotton pellet granuloma pouch models. Results were comparable with standard drug Phenylbutazone. (16)
Antidiabetic / Antihyperlipidemic / Leaves: Study evaluated the antidiabetic and antihyperlipidemic effects of Calamus rotang leaves in streptozotocin-nicotinamide (STZ-NC) induced diabetic model in rats. The ethanol extract at doses of 100 and 200 mg/kg showed a substantial drop in fasting blood glucose levels and increase in body weight, dramatically lowered HbA1c, TC, TG, LDL, VLDL, AST,  ALT and ALP levels, with significant increase in HDL. The leaf ethanol extract also showed positive impact on pancreatic histological alterations. (17)
Treatment of Osteoarthritis / Rhizome / Clinical Trial: Single blind comparative clinical trial evaluated the efficacy of internal administration of rhizome of C. rotang powder in the management of Azhal Keelvayu (osteoarthritis of the knee). Doses of 0.5g, 1g, and 2 g of Chooranam was given internally three times a day with lukewarm water for 40 days. The 2 g dose showed significant and marked improvement on the 20th and 40th days. Results provide proof and support of the traditional literature about Calamus rotang. (19)
Antiproliferative on Ehrlich's Ascites Carcinoma: Study evaluated a methanol extract of root for anticancer activity (Ehrlich ascites carcinoma) on Swiss albino mice. In vitro cytotoxicity assay was done by tryptan blue and MTT assay. In vivo anticancer activity was done using EAC cells. MECR treated groups (200 and 400 mg/kg) showed significantly decreased tumor volume, packed cell volume and viable cell count. Life span increased by 50% and 100% in a dose dependent manner. Hematological, biochemical, and liver tissue antioxidant parameters were significantly (p<0.05) restored towards normal. (20)
Hydroxyapatite-Ceramics from Rattan: Study reports on three-dimensional, highly oriented pore channel anatomy of native rattan (Calamus rotang) used as template to fabricate biomorphous hydroxyapatiite (Ca5(PO4)3OH) ceramics designed for bone regeneration scaffolds. (22)
Accmus Herbal Mixture as Mouthwash: Study evaluated the antibacterial properties of a new "Accmus" herbal mouth wash, prepared from the bark of Acacia arabica, Acacia speciosa, and root of Calamus rotang in combination by tincture and hot extract methods. Antibacterial activity was studied by agar well diffusion method against Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus sp and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. S. aureus was inhibited by all preparations of mouth wash. Hot water extraction method was more efficient than alcoholic extraction and can be recommended for its antibacterial properties rather than the alcoholic extract of mouth wash. (23)



Updated May 2024
November 2021

IMAGE SOURCE: Photo: Rotang with fruits / Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE - Rattan Palm (Calamus rotang) / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Click on image or link to go to source page / Wikipedia 
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Calamus rotang stem / Vinayaraj /CC BY-SA 3.0 / Click on image or link to go to source page / Wikipedia
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Calamus rotang / Vinayaraj / CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported / Image modified /  Click on image or link to go to source page / Wikipedia

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Calamus rotang / Wikipedia
Calamus rotang / Plants of the World Online
In vitro antioxidant activity of the methanolic extracts of leaf and fruit of Calamus rotang Linn. / MdNur Alam / J Expt Biosc., 2012; 3(2): pp 33-36 / eISSN: 2223-9626 / pISSN: 2077-3358
CNS depressant, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory activities of methanolic seed extract of Calamus rotang Linn. fruits in rat / Farhana Alam Ripa, Pritesh Ranjan Dash, Md Omar Faruk / Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, 2015; 3(5): pp 121-125 /
Assessment of immunomodulatory activity of aqueous extract of Calamus rotang / Amit Gupta, Sushama Ravindrra Chaphalkar / Avicenna J Phytomed, May-June 2017; 7(3): pp 195-205 /
PMID: 28748166
Aqueous extract of Calam,us rotang as a novel immunoadjuvant enhances both humoral and cell mediated immunity / Amit Gupta, A jam C Shaikh, Sushana R Chaphaljar / J Herbmed Pharmacol., 2017; 6(1): pp 43-48 / eISSN: 2345-5004
Anti-diarrheal and hypoglycemic activities of methanol extract of Calamus rotang L. seed in rat / F A Ripa, P R Dash, A K Podder / RJP: Research Journal of Pharmacognosy, 2016; 3(2) Serial No 2: pp 33-40
Biomorphous porous hydroxyapatite-ceramics from rattan (Calamus rotang) / Christiane Eichenseer, Julia Will, Peter Greil et al / Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine, 2010; 21: pp 131-137 /
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10856-009-3857-3
|Immunosuppressive activity of crude saponins from the leaves of Calotropis gigantea, Calamus rotang, and Artocarpus integrifolia / Amit Gupta, Sushana Chaphalkar / IJPSR: International Journal of Pharma Sciences and Research, March 2015; 6(3): pp 526-531 / ISSN: 0975-9492(10)
Phytochemical screening and evaluation of analgesic and thrombolytic activity of the crude methanolic extract of Calamus rotang L. leaves (Arecaceae) / S R Afrin, M K Hossain et al ./ International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research / DOI: 10.13040/IJPSR/0975-8232.11(9)/4293-99
Calamus (palm) / Wikipedia

Rattan resources of the Philippines their extent, production, utilization and issues on resource development / Florentino O Tesoro
Rattan Resources
Diversity and Conservation Status of the Philippine Rattans / Edwino S Fernando
Potent hepatoprotective activity of common rattan (Calamus rotang L.) leaf extract and its molecular mechanism / Walaa S Anwar, Fatma M Abdel-Maksoud, Ahmed M Sayed, Iman A M Abdel-Rahman, Makboul A Makboul, Ahmed M Zaher / BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, 2023; 23: Article No 24 / DOI: 10.1186/s12906-023-03853-9
Antiinflammatory activities of Calamus rotang mill / G Senthilvel, Anoop Austin, M Jegadeesan, E Mayisvren et al
Antidiabetic and Antihyperlipidemic Effects of Calamus rotang L leaves (Arecaceae) in Streptozotocin-Nicotinamide Induced Diabetic Model / V Kishor Kumar, K G Lalitha, R Sambath Kumar / Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, 2021; 20(4): pp 80-87 / DOI: 10.18579/jopcr/v20i4.kishore
Calamus rotang / Collection of Medicinal Plants in Sri Lanka
Clinical trial of the effectiveness calamus rotang on the management of azhal keelvayu (osteoarthritis of knee) / T Dhashalini, V Paheerathan, R Piratheep Kumar / International Journal of Current Medical and Pharmaceutical Research / DOI: 10.24327/23956429.ijcmpr20170099
ANTI PROLIFERATIVE ACTIVITY OF CALAMUS ROTANG AS A SPOTLIGHT ON EHRLICH’S ASCITES CARCINOMA TREATED PERITONEAL AS WELL AS SOLID TUMOR MODEL / Subeer Roy, Diksha Kumari, Mainak Chakkraborty, Pallab Kanti Haldar / International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2018; 10(1) / ISSN: 0975-1491
Documentation and consensus of agreements on Indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants used by the Mog, Reang, Uchai of South Tripura: A preliminary report / Prasenjit Patari, Md Jashim Uddin / Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies, 2016; 4(5): pp 122-137 / ISSN: 2320-3862
Biomorphous porous hydroxyapatite-ceramics from rattan (Calamus Rotang) / Christiane Eichenseer, Julia Will, Markus Rampf, Süsen Wend, Peter Greil /  Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine, 2010; Vol 21: pp 131-137 / DOI: 10.1007/s10856-009-3857-3
Antibacterial properties of “Accmus” mouth wash / S Tharmila, T Thayalini, A C Thavaranjit. R Srikaran / University of Jaffna, Research Repository, 2011

DOI: It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

                                                            List of Understudied Philippine Medicinal Plants
                                          New plant names needed
The compilation now numbers over 1,300 medicinal plants. While I believe there are hundreds more that can be added to the collection, they are becoming more difficult to find. If you have a plant to suggest for inclusion, native or introduced, please email the info: scientific name (most helpful), local plant name (if known), any known folkloric medicinal use, and, if possible, a photo. Your help will be greatly appreciated.

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