Syngonium is a genus of about 36 species of flowering plants in the Araceae family.
Syngonium podophyllum is a perennial vine growing to a height of 10-20 meters. Petioles are slender. Leaves are arrow-shaped, thin, green and undulating. Leaves change shape as they mature, becoming bigger and lobed.
- Recently introduced to the Philippines.
- Native to Mexico and Costa Rica.
- Analysis of volatile oil by GC/MS yielded forty-three compounds. Main compounds were alpha-ionone, geranyl acetone, ß-ionone, dithdroactinidiolide, hexadecanoic acid, phytol, and linoleic acid, among others, together with carbonyl chemicals, fatty acid, and hydrocarbon. (8)
- Phytochemical screening of leaves yielded alkaloids and saponins. (11)
- Phytochemical screening of acetate extract of dried leaf samples yielded the presence of flavonoids, terpenoids, reducing sugars, alkaloids, and saponins. Total phenolic and flavonoid contents were 3.67 ± 0.02 mg propyl galate equivalent and 3.23 ± 0.02 mg quercetin equivalents per gram of sample. (see study below) (12)
- Studies suggest antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cytotoxic properties.
- Air-purifying plant.
• No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
• In Belize, roots and bark used in traditional medicine for treatment of superficial and deep wounds.
• In Central American, used for various skin disorders.
• In Suriname, sap is swabbed into the cavity of an aching tooth to relieve pain. Decoction of crush leaves use as wash to treat stomachache. (13)
• In Bangladesh, whole plant considered tonic; used for dermatitis. (14)
• Indoor Plant / Air Purifier: One of the plants studied and found effective in helping to remove indoor air pollutants.
A study was done on 21 extracts of seven plants used in wound healing, including Syngonium piodophyllum leaves and bark, to evaluate antibacterial properties against strains of E coli, P aeruginosa, S aureus and E faecalis. Almost all the extracts showed some growth inhibition of one or more bacterial strains. Antibacterial activity was reported for the first time for Syngonium podophyllum. (1)
Extracts of seven herbal drugs used in Central American folk medicined were evaluated for their topical anti-inflammatory activity against Croton oil-induced ear edema in mice. All the extracts, including S podophyllum induced dose-dependent edema reduction, presenting potential sources of principles with high anti-inflammatory activity. (4)
• Antibacterial / Antioxidant / Cytotoxicity / Hepatotoxic / Leaves:
Study evaluated the in vitro antioxidant, antibacterial, and cytotoxic potential of Syngonium podophyllum and Eichhornia crassipes leaf aqueous extracts and their in vivo effect of oxidative stress and hepatic biomarkers in isoniazid induced rats. Both extracts showed considerable antibacterial activity against Proteus vulgaris, Salmonella typhi, and Bordetella bronchiseptica. SP showed 51% cytotoxicity against lung cancer (NCI-H322) cell line. SP showed a phenolic content of 5.36 ± 0.32 PGE/g. Both showed 13%-65% protection against lipid peroxidation in rat tissue. However the S. podophyllum extract was found to be hepatotoxic. (6)
• Cytotoxicity / Leaves:
Study evaluated the cytotoxic potential and phytochemical screening of S. podophyllum leaves and X. safittifolium rhizomes. Among all extracts, Syngonium podophyllum leaves showed the highest cytotoxic potential with LD50 value of 16.67 µg/ml. (7)
• Isoschaftoside / Potential Antihypertensive:
Study investigated the in vitro effects of isoschaftoside isolated from Syngonium podophyllum on pig kidney Na+, K+, ATpase. Isoschaftoside significantly decreased renal Na+K+ATpase. Results suggest a promising compound for the treatment of hypertension. (9)
Antioxidant / Antimicrobial / Anticancer / Leaves: Study of ethyl acetate leaf extract reducing ability in the range of 0.170-0.350. Extract showed moderate DPPH radical scavenging potential (50%) and metal ion chelating ability (55%) at higher concentrations. Extract showed 43% growth inhibition against lung cancer (NCI-H322) and 53% against breast cancer (T4D) lines. It showed considerable antibacterial activity by disc diffusion assay against Bacillus cereus, Streptococcus mutans, Proteus vulgaris, Salmonella typhi, and Brodetella bronchiseptica. (12)
Toxicity / Concerns
• All parts of the plant are considered poisonous and causes severe mouth pain if eaten.
• Araceae contain calcium oxalate crystals, believed to cause intense local irritation on handling or consuming. Some attribute the reaction to other compounds present as the irritation is not seen in properly cooked plants, although the crystal persist after heating.