Boto is a large, spreading shrub with loose bark and a stout stem and branches. Leaves are crowded in the axil, alternate, obovate or obovate-oblong, 12 to 25 centimeters in length, 6 to 10 centimeters or more wide, and silky, with an obtuse tip which tapers to a wedge-shaped base. Flowers are white, tinged with purple, about 2.5 centimeters long, and borne in considerable numbers in axillary cymes. Calyx-lobes are linear-lanceolate, 3 to 6 millimeters long, and obtuse and enlarged in fruit. Corolla-tube is 1.5 to 1.8 centimeters long, obliquely split to the base behind, narrow, and hairy; the lobes lanceolate, and 6 to 8 millimeters long. Fruit is a drupe, ovoid, somewhat rounded, 1 to 1.5 centimeters long, longitudinally ridged and very succulent.
- Along the seashore throughout the Philippines.
- Also occurs in India to Madagascar and through Malaya to Tropical Australia and Polynesia.
- Bark and leaves yield a bitter principle and glucoside.
- ß-sitosterol-ß-D-glucoside, mannitol has been isolated.
- Plant yields imperatorin, marmesin, and coumarins.
Fruit, roots and leaves.
- In the Philippines, juice of ripe fruit used for cleaning opacities of the eyes.
- Decoction of roots used for beriberi and certain syphilitic affections; also for dysentery.
- In Amboina, juice of fruit is instilled by natives into the eyes to clear opacities and improve dimness of vision.
- As a cataplasm, fruit is used for tumors; internally, induces menstruation.
- In India, decoction of leaves and bark used for tachycardia.
- Used as diuretic; also, as remedy for dropsy.
- Bitter leaves eaten to relieve indigestion.
- Poultice of leaves applied to headaches, tumors and swollen legs.
- Cataplasm of fruit applied to tumors; taken internally to induce menstruation.
- Root decoction used for dysentery and certain syphilitic affections.
- Juice of berries instilled on eyes to clear opacities; used for dimmed vision.
- Tobacco substitute: Leaves smoked like tobacco.
- Wood: In Malaysia, used for making wooden nails and pegs for boats.
- Pith from stems and thick branches used for preparing sun-hats and floats; also, pressed flat to make rice paper.
• Antimicrobial: Study of ethyl acetate extract exhibited inhibitory activity against Candida albicans, similar to Clotrimazole. The extract also showed activity against Klebsiella pneumonia.
• CNS Depressant: At 300-mg/kg dose, acts like a CNS depressant drug, with an effect comparable to Diazepam.
• Anti-Inflammatory / Antipyretic: Study in rats of anti-inflammatory and antipyretic effects of methanolic extract of S. frutescens leaves showed significant reduction in yeast-induced hyperthermia and carrageenan-induced paw edema. The effects were comparable to the standard drugs, paracetamol and indomethacin.