Kubamba is an erect, suffrutescent plant, 1 to 2 meters high. Leaves are membranaceous with conspicuous, glandular, brown to black dots beneath, broadly ovate to suborbicular-ovate, 17 to 37 centimeters long, 15 to 32 centimeters wide, the base subpeltate, multiplinerved and equilaterally deeply heart-shaped, the apex with a pointed tip, somewhat hairy on the nerves on both surfaces, and the margins ciliate. Petioles are very long, more or less hairy, 11.5 to 27.5 centimeters long. Spikes are numerous, umbellate, axillary, hermaphroditic, 5.5 to 12 centimeters long, 2 to 3.5 millimeters in diameter. Rachis is smooth. Bracts are stalked, peltate, about 1 millimeter long, with semilunar, triangular disk. Fruit is free, crowded, obovoid-trigonous, 0.75 to 1 millimeter long, about 0.5 millimeter in diameter, glandular, with the apex truncate and umbonate. Stigmas are cuspidate. Stamens are two, 0.2 millimeter long and with very short stalks.
- In damp forests at low and medium altitudes throughout the Philippines.
- Introduced from tropical America.
Essential oil from aerial parts contain B-pinene, a-pinene, E-nerolidol and B-caryophyllene.
- Yields safrole, germacrene-D, ß-cadinene,, o-cadinene, and bicyclogermacrene.
- Roots and aerial parts contain 4-nerolidylcatecol.
- Study yielded three pure compounds, viz. isoasarone, 2-(4'-methoxyphenyl)-3-methyl-5-propenylbenzofuran and 2,3-dihydro-2-(4-hydrophenyl)-3- methyl-5-propenylbenzofuran.
- Phytochemical screening of dry leaves indicated the presence of carbohydrates, cardiac glycosides, saponins, tannins, and alkaloids.(11)
- Plant is considered vulnerary, detergent, antiscorbutic, diuretic.
- In Africa, considered emollient, vulnerary and antiseptic.
- 4-nerolidylcatechol considered antioxidant.
- In many parts of the tropics, young leaves and inflorescences are eaten raw, steam or boiled as vegetable.
Also used as condiment for fish or meat and rice.
- In Sierra Leone, leaves are a favorite leafy vegetable.
- Sweet and ripe fruits are eaten as delicacy.
- In the Philippines, fresh leaves are applied on the surface of abscesses as topicals.
- Juice of leaves applied to eyes for conjunctivitis.
- In French Guiana, plant is used as remedy for tapeworms.
- In other countries, used as antiscorbutic and diuretic.
- In Africa, used as poultices for swellings, boils and burns. Juice taken as emmenagogue, galactagogue and diuretic. Juice used as eardrops for earaches. Decoction of leaves or roots used for jaundice, malaria, urinary problems, syphilis, gonorrhea, constipation and stomachaches. Also used for migraines. Decoction used as wash for fevers in children.
- In Cote d'ivoire and Central Africa aerial parts used to regulate menstruation and prevent abortion.
- In Guinea, plant used to expel tapeworms; in the Congo, leaves are used a vermifuge.
- In Cameroon, used for toothaches and hypertension.
- In Madagascar, leaves applied in friction for rheumatism.
- In Brazil, used in baths for treatment of edema and uterine problems.
- In Malaysia, fruits chewed with betel leaves for cough.
In SE Asia and South America, used as an ingredient of arrow poison.
• Anti-Venom: Phospholipases A2 are important constituents of snake venoms, responsible for their toxic actions. Study showed extracts from P umbellatum and P peltatum showed inhibition of the enzymatic activity of myotoxin 1, a PLA2 from Bothrops asper, and isolated 4-nerolidylcatechol which completely inhibited the enzyme activity of B asper myotoxin. (2)
• Aristolactams / Antioxidant / Antifungal: Study isolated four alkaloids, piperumbellactams A-D from the branches of P umbellatum together with three other known compounds. Some compounds showed a-glucosidase enzyme inhibition, DPPH radical scavenging activity and antifungal activity. (3)
• Antioxidant: In a study evaluating the antioxidant capacity of 14 herbs/spices from Cameroon, P umbellatum led the antioxidant activity on one assay method. (4)
• Essential Oil: Major essential oil constituents of the fruits showed to be linalool (14.4%) and (E)-nerolidol (10.0%); from the leaves, B-pinene (10.8%), B-caryophyllene (28.2%) and (E)-nerolidol (16.5%). (5)
• Anti-Plasmodial: (1) Study of extracts of seven Cameroon plants used by traditional healers showed P umbellatum extract had moderate activity against P falcifarum. (2) Crude methanol extract of leaves showed strong dose-dependent antimalarial activity against P. berghei-infected mice. (6)
• Insecticidal / Anti-Cockroach: Study yielded isoasarone, a compound shown to be capable of causing immediate hyperexcitation and complete inhibition of the cockroach cercal nerve activity. (10)
• Antimicrobial: Study evaluated a methanol extract and fractions of P. umbellatum for antimicrobial activity. Results showed in inhibition of all test microorganisms at the doses used. MIC for the ME and n-hexane fraction was <25mg/ml. (11)
• Contraceptive Effect: Study evaluated the effect of a methanol extract of leaves on conception and sexual behavior in rodents. The extract protected the rodents from conception from one to three gestational periods. There was dose-related inhibition of regular estrus cycle and ovulation. The contraceptive effect may be due, in part, to secondary metabolites which included phenols and saponins. (12)