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Family Campanulaceae

Hippobroma longiflora (L.) G.Don
Tong ban cao

Scientific names Common names
Hippobroma longiflora (L.) G. Don. Estrella (Tag., Span.,)
Isotoma longiflora (L.) C. Presl. Lagrimas de San Diego (Span.)
Isotoma rucinata Hassk. Revienta caballos (Span.)
Laurentia longiflora (L.) Peterm. Madamfate (Engl.)
Lobelia longiflora L. Star of Bethlehem (Engl.)
Rapuntium longiflorum (L.) Mill. Longflower laurentia (Engl.)
Solenopsis longiflora (L.) M.R.Almeida  
Hippobroma longiflora (L.) G.Don is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Ma zui cao, Tong ban cao.
FRENCH: Etoile de Bethleem, Lastron blanc
HAWAIIAN: Udel ra badrei
POHNPEIAN: Ehmah, Wahnrohs, Pwetepwet
SPANISH: Lagrimas de San Diego
YAPESE: Adilep

Estrella is a low annual herb, erect, spreading, branched or simple. smooth or slightly hairy, about 30 to 50 centimeters high. Leaves are alternate, soft, and oblanceolate, with short stalks or without stalks, 10 to 20 centimeters long, with serrate margins, narrow at both ends, pointed at the tip. Flowers are fragrant, white, five-lobed and star-shaped, borne singly at the axils of leaves. Calyx is green, 5-angled, and ovoid; tube is about 1 centimeter long. Five lobes are linear, denticulate, about 1.5 centimeter long. Corolla is white; tube is slender, 8 to 10 centimeters long; the lobes spreading, lanceolate, and 2.5 centimeters long. Capsule is nodding, about 2 centimeters long, and slightly protruding from the calyx-tube.

- Cultivated in gardens.
- Found along drains, along rice paddies.

• Plant yields alkaloid compounds: lobelin, lobelamin and isotomin.
• Leaves contain alkaloid, saponin, flavonoid and poliferol.
• Isotomine, an amorphous toxic alkaloid, can paralyze voluntary muscles, that can affect the heart and respiration.

• Juice is irritating to the eye and is known to cause blindness in animals.
• A burning sensation in the mouth and throat results if the juice of any plant part is tasted.
• Considered anti-inflammatory, anti-neoplastic, analgesic and hemostatic.

Parts utilized

- Counterirritant for aching teeth: leaves are washed, pounded and put on painful carious teeth.
- In the Yucatan used for wounds and treatment of venereal disease, asthma, bronchitis, epilepsy.

- Decoction of leaves used to wash wounds.
- Leaves and flowers are considered antipyretic and decongestant.
- Used for gaseous distention and diarrhea.
- Although known for its poisonous nature, it is sometimes used is small amounts as a tonic for colds.
- In other folk medicinal systems, decoction of leaves used for asthma, bronchitis, cancer.
- Poultice of leaves applied to wounds and wrapped.
- In Indonesia, used for treatment of wounds and eye disorders. (4)
- For cataracts, leaves pressed in water, and solution used as eye drops.

- An ingredient of cimora (Trichocereus pachanoi, Neoraimondia macrostibas, Iresine Isotoma longiflora Pedilanthus tithymaloides, and one of the Daturas) a hallucinogenic brew of the Peruvian Andes. (9)

Seed Oils:
In a study of 12 seed oils from 10 plants families, nine are reported to be medicinal. The major seed oil component of Isotoma longiflora was oleic acid.
Anti-Inflammatory / Leaves: Study of ethanol extract of sapu jagad (Isotoma longiflora) leaves showed anti-inflammatory effects using a paw edema method in male mice. Indomethacin was used as standard drug. (4)
Alkaloids:Study of Lobelia siphilitica and Hypobroma longiflora isolated two new alkaloids: (S)-2-[(2S,6R)-1-methyl-6-(2-oxo-2-phenylethyl)piperidin-2-yl]-1-phenylethyl acetate and 6-[(E)-2-(3-methoxyphenyl)ethenyl]-2,3,4,5-tetrahydropyridine, together with Lobeline, (1S,1′S)-2,2′-[(2R,6S)-1-methylpiperidine-2,6-diyl]bis(1-phenylethanol), and lobetyolin. (5)
Lobeline: Lobeline is a natural alkaloid found in Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata), Devil's tobacco (L. tupa), Cardinal flower (L. cardinalis), Great lobelia (L. siphilitica) and Hippobroma longiflora. Study showed Cmax and AUC0-6h were both linearly related to dose, with an absolute bioavailability of 13.8%. (6)
Antibacterial: Study evaluated the antibacterial activity of kendali leaves extract against growth of Streptococcus mutans. Results showed the antibacterial activity of kendali leaves, with a smallest effective concentration of 0,001%. (8)
Lobeline / Treatment of Asthma and Respiratory Illness: The active component of Lobelia is the alkaloid lobeline. Lobeline is a lipophilic molecule reported to act as both agonist and antagonist to beta nicotinic receptors. The highest amount of lobeline is found in the seeds. Studies suggest a potential as alternative treatment for patients with asthma and a promising complementary therapy for the management of respiratory disorders. (10)

Toxicity !
• Contains a toxic alkaloid, isotomine that can cause muscle paralysis and affect cardiorespiratory functions.
• Its dangerous properties limit its medicinal use.
• Used as a component in some hallucinogenic beverages and brews.


Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Last Update October 2015

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Minor Seed Oils XVIII: Examination of Twelve Seed Oils / Prof. Dr. R. C. Badami, Miss J. K. Thakkar / DOI 10.1002/lipi.19840860409 DOI
Isotoma longiflora /
Herbal Medicine /
Hippobroma longiflora / Common names / Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)
Efek Antiinflamasi Ekstrak Etanol Daun Sapu Jagad (Isotoma longiflora (L) Presl.) Pada Mencit Jantan (Mus musculus) / Muhammida / 0808121388 / Universitas Riau - KEDOKTERAN - Pendidikan Dokter, 2012
Piperidine and Tetrahydropyridine Alkaloids from Lobelia siphilitica and Hippobroma longiflora /
Julie R. Kesting, Inge-Lise Tolderlund, Anders F. Pedersen, Matthias Witt, Jerzy W. Jaroszewski, and Dan Staerk * / J. Nat. Prod., 2009, 72 (2), pp 312–315 / DOI: 10.1021/np800743w
Pharmacokinetic Study of Lobeline in Rats After Intravenous and Oral Administration / Chongliang LIN, Fangfang HAN, Zeng GUO & Guanyang LIN* / Lat. Am. J. Pharm. 32 (10): 1575-7 (2013)
Hippobroma longiflora / Synonyms / The Plant List
Antibacterial Activity of Kendali Leaves (Hippobroma longiflora [L] G. Don) Extract against Streptococcus mutans / Ani Nur Rosidah et al / Artikel Ilmiah Hasil Penelitian Mahasiswa 2014
Hallucinogens-Andean Highlands and Adjacent Areas / William Emboden's Hallucinogens
The Use of Lobelia in the Treatment of Asthma and Respiratory Illness
/ Jill Stansbury, ND; Stansbury, ND;
Paul Richard Saunders, PhD, ND; Eugene R. Zampieron, ND / Journal of Restorative Medicine 2013; 2: page 94

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.

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