Helicteres isora

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Helicteres isora
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Helicteres
H. isora
Binomial name
Helicteres isora
  • Helicteres baruensis var. ovata DC.
  • Helicteres chrysocalyx Miq. ex Mast.
  • Helicteres corylifolia Buch.-Ham. ex Dillwyn
  • Helicteres grewiaefolia DC.
  • Helicteres isora var. glabrescens Mast.
  • Helicteres isora var. microphylla Hassk.
  • Helicteres isora var. tomentosa Mast.
  • Helicteres macrophylla Wight ex Wight & Arnold
  • Helicteres ovata var. fructus-regis Lam.
  • Helicteres ovata var. isora-murri Lam.
  • Helicteres roxburghii G. Don
  • Helicteres versicolor Hassk.
  • Isora corylifolia Schott & Endl.
  • Isora grewiaefolia (DC.) Schott & Endl.
  • Isora versicolor Hassk.
  • Ixora versicolor Hassk.

Helicteres isora, sometimes called the Indian screw tree, is a species of small tree or large shrub found in Asia including Indian Subcontinent, South China, Malay Peninsula, Java and Saudi Arabia. Also, found in Australia. The red flowers are pollinated mainly by birds of the sunbird family. It possesses an impressive range of nutritional and medicinal properties. Fibres from the bark are used to make rope. They are also visited by many butterflies and hymenoptera.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

Common names[edit]

  • Sanskrit - Avartani; avartphala
  • Hindi - Marorphali (मरोड़ फली ), bhendu, jonkphal
  • English - Indian screw tree, East Indian screw tree, deer's horn
  • Marathi - Kewad, muradsheng (मुरुड शेंग)
  • Bengali - Antamora
  • Gujarati - Maradashingh
  • Kannada - Yedmuri
  • Telugu - Vadampiri
  • Malayalam - Idampiri valampiri (ഇടംപിരി വലംപിരി)
  • Thai - สมุนไพรปอกะบิด , S̄amunpra pai ka bid
  • Sinhala - Liniya (ලීනිය)[8]

Other vernacular names of H. isora are - Mochra ; Mudmudika ; Kurkurbicha; Sinkri ;Valumbari; Yedamuri ;Pita Baranda; Valumbari ; Balampari; Guvadarra; Pedamuri; Ishwarmuri; Murmuriya; Vurkatee.[3] [1][5][6][7] [9] In Indonesia it is called “Buah Kayu Ules or Ulet-Ulet” on Java island[10]


Large shrub or small tree (5–8 m in height) with grey bark and alternately arranged hairy, ovate shaped leaves with serrate margins. Flower are brick red or orange-red in color. Fruits are compound pod, twisted like screw with pointed end, signifying the name “Indian Screw Tree”. Raw fruits are greenish in color, brown or grey when dried. Seeds are black-brown, highly polished, roughly rhomboid, rectangle or triangular in shape.[3][5][6][7]

The pollinators of the flower include Jungle babbler, Golden-fronted leafbird, Ashy drongo, White-bellied drongo [11]

Fruits of H.isora at Kambalakonda wildlife Sanctuary, Visakhapatnam
Fresh fruits of H.isora
Picture showing dried and ruptured fruits of H.isora (on cm scale)


It is a tropical Asian shrub or medium-sized tree. The shrub/plant is found all throughout India from Punjab to Bengal; Jammu to South India and Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. However, it gregariously grows in dry deciduous forests of central and western India up to 1500m on the hill slopes. It is also found in Malay Peninsula, Java,[10] Australia.[3][5][6]


Rich source of antioxidants, carbohydrate, proteins, fiber, calcium, phosphorus and iron.[12] Numerous studies have revealed the presence of phenols, flavonoids, alkaloids, glycosides, phytosterols, carotenoids, tannins,[12][13] fixed oils and fats form different parts of H.isora, in varying concentrations. Well identified active phytoconstituents includes Gallic acid, Caffeic acid, vanillin, p-Coumaric acid.[13] From Bean and cowrkers (1985), isolated cucurbitacin b, isocucurbitacin b (steroids) from roots[14] Additionally, Satake et al. (1999) isolated rosmarinic acid and their derivatives; isoscutellarein and their derivatives; D-glucopyranosyl isorinic acid with rosmarinic acid; Helisterculins A and B; Helisorin.[10]

Ethnopharmacological relevance[edit]

It is a good source of carbohydrates, proteins, fiber, calcium, phosphorus and iron.[12] Different parts of the plant are traditionally used in the indigenous medicine system to cure various ailments. The roots and the bark are used as an expectorant, demulcent, constipating and lactifuge and useful in colic, scabies, gastropathy, diabetes, diarrhoea and dysentery. The fruits are used as astringents, refrigerant, stomachachic, antispasmodic, haemostatic and vermifuge. They are useful in griping of bowels, flatulence, colic, diabetes, diarrhea and dysentery.[5] The root juice and fruits are topically applied to cure snake bite. Fruit pods are highly nutritive. The fruit powder mixed along some other herbs and spices is given to new mothers as laddoo (Indian sweet dish) in order to cope with post-delivery weakness.[3][5][6][7]

Medicinal uses[edit]

It is a rich source of nutrients and antioxidants of therapeutic importance.:Investigations have indicated that the plant has antioxidant,[13][15] anticancer,[16] anti-diabetic[17][18] and antimicrobial[19] properties.

Misconceptions and facts[edit]

Plant family[edit]

Whether, H. isora belongs to Sterculiaceae or Malvaceae family??

  1. The plant/shrub is subsumed within Malvaceae family. But, the fact is that it belongs to the Sterculiaceae family[3] to be placed under core (order) Malvales[20][21] as on 03/06/2014 along with considerably close plant families Malvaceae, Bombacaceae, and Tiliaceae[20] [2] as on 03/06/2014.

However the classification and placement of some genera under these 4 traditional families is not universally accepted. Some taxonomists put plants of all plants into one single family Malvaceae.


A) Name of the plant/shrub in Ayurveda: Murva and/ or Avartani??

Indigenous medicinal system recognizes H.isora as “Avartani” or “Mrigshringa”,[3] often confused with Murva (another Ayurvedic drug Marsdenia tenacissima (Asclepiadaceae).

Ayurvedic tests have described Murva as Helicteres isora and Sansevieria roxburghiana.[22]

B) Physical Identification

There is a close similarity between the leaves of H.isora and Grewia asiatica Linn. (belonging to the Tiliaceae/ Malvaceae family from the same order Malvales). Without fruits and flowers, it is difficult to differentiate between both plant/shrub.


  1. ^ http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl/record/kew-2843218
  2. ^ Atluri, J. B., Rao, S. P. and Reddi, C. S. (2000). "Pollination ecology of Helicteres isora Linn. (Sterculiaceae)" (PDF). Curr. Sci. 78: 713–718.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Warrier, P. K., Nambiar, V. P. K., & Ramankutty, C. (1994). Indian medicinal plants: A compendium of 500 species (Vol. 3). Orient Blackswan. 132-135
  4. ^ Warrier, P.K.; Nambiar, V.P.K.; Ramankutty, C. (1994). Indian Medicinal Plants: A Compendium of 500 Species. 3. Orient Longman. p. 132. ISBN 9788125003021. Retrieved 2015-01-02.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Ahuja BS. Medicinal plants of Saharanpur (1965), 40-41
  6. ^ a b c d e Kirtikar KR, Basu BD. (1995) Indian medicinal plants. Vol. 1. Dehradun, India: International book distributors; 371–2
  7. ^ a b c d Trivedi PC, Ethanobotany,2002; Sur, RR and Halder AC; 146-168
  8. ^ http://www.instituteofayurveda.org/plants/plants_detail.php?i=1276&s=Family_name
  9. ^ "Helicteres isora - East-Indian Screw Tree". flowersofindia.net. Retrieved 2015-01-02.
  10. ^ a b c Satake, T., Kamiya, K., Saiki, Y., Hama, T., Fujimoto, Y., Kitanaka, S., ... & Umar, M. (1999). Studies on the Constituents of Fruits of Helicteres isora L.CHEMICAL AND PHARMACEUTICAL BULLETIN-TOKYO-, 47, 1444–1447.
  11. ^ V, Santharam (25 Feb 1996). "Visitation Patterns of birds and butterflies at Helicteres isora Linn. (Sterculiaceae) clump" (PDF). Current Science. 70: 316–319.
  12. ^ a b c Gayathri, P., Gayathri Devi, S., & Sivagami Srinivasan, S. S. (2010). Screening and Quantitation of Phytochemicals and Nutritional Components of the Fruit and Bark of Helicteres isora. Hygeia journal for drugs and medicines, 2(1), 57-62.
  13. ^ a b c Jain Amita, Sinha Prakriti; Desai Neetin S.; (2014) Estimation of flavonoid, Phenol content and antioxidant potential of Indian screw tree (Helicteres isora L.);IJPSR5(4):1320–1330.
  14. ^ Bean, M. F., Antoun, M., Abramson, D., Chang, C. J., McLaughlin, J. L., & Cassady, J. M. (1985). Cucurbitacin B and isocucurbitacin B: cytotoxic components of Helicteres isora. Journal of Natural Products, 48(3), 500-500.
  15. ^ Raaman, N., & Balasubramanian, K.(2012) Antioxidant and anticancer activity of Helicteres isora dried fruit solvent extracts
  16. ^ Pradhan, M., Sribhuwaneswari, S., Karthikeyan, D., Minz, S., Sure, P., Chandu, A. N., ... & Sivakumar, T. (2008). In-vitro cytoprotection activity of Foeniculum vulgare and Helicteres isora in cultured human blood lymphocytes and antitumour activity against B16F10 melanoma cell line. Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology, 1(4), 450-452.
  17. ^ Venkatesh, S., Reddy, G. D., & Reddy, B. M. (2003). Antihyperglycemic activity of Helicteres isora roots in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Pharmaceutical biology, 41(5), 347-350.
  18. ^ Venkatesh, S., Dayanand Reddy, G., Reddy, Y. S. R., Sathyavathy, D., & Madhava Reddy, B. (2004). Effect of Helicteres isora root extracts on glucose tolerance in glucose-induced hyperglycemic rats. Fitoterapia, 75(3), 364-367.
  19. ^ 13. Shriram, V., Jahagirdar, S., Latha, C., Kumar, V., Dhakephalkar, P., Rojatkar, S., & Shitole, M. G. (2010). Antibacterial & antiplasmid activities of Helicteres isora L.
  20. ^ a b Alverson, W. S., Whitlock, B. A., Nyffeler, R., Bayer, C., & Baum, D. A. (1999). Phylogeny of the core Malvales: evidence from ndhF sequence data. American Journal of Botany, 86(10), 1474–1486.
  21. ^ "Classification of Malvaceae: Overview". malvaceae.info. Retrieved 2015-01-02.
  22. ^ Bhavprakash Nighantu