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Family Taccaceae
Tacca leontopetaloides (L.) Kuntze

Ju ruo shu

Scientific names Common names
Chaitaea tacca Sol. ex Seem. Corazon de anghel (Ati)
Leontice leontopetaloides L. Gau-gau (Tag.)
Tacca abyssinica Hochst. ex Baker Kanobong (Bis.)
Tacca artocarpifolia Seem. Panarien (Ilk.)
Tacca brownii Seem. Tambobon (Sbl.)
Tacca dubia Schult. & Schult.f. Tayobong (Bis.)
Tacca gaogao Blanco Yabyaban (Tag.)
Tacca guineensis G.Don ex Loudon Bat flower (Engl.)
Tacca hawaiiensis H.Limpr. East Indian arrowroot (Engl.)
Tacca involucrata Schumach. & Thonn. Polynesian arrowroot (Engl.)
Tacca leontopetaloides (L.) Kuntze  
Tacca madagascariensis Bojer  
Tacca madagascariensis (H.Limpr.) H.Limpr.  
Tacca oceanica Seem.  
Tacca phallifera Schult. & Schult.f.  
Tacca pinnatifida J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.  
Tacca pinnatifolia Gaertn.  
Tacca quanzensis Welw.  
Tacca umbrarum Jum. & H.Perrier  
Tacca viridis Hemsl.  
Tacca pinnatifida J.R.Forst & G.Forst is a synonym of Tacca leontopetaloides (L.) Kuntze. The Plant List
Tacca leontopetaloides (L.) Kuntze is an accepted name. The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Ju ruo shu.
FIJIAN: Yabia.
FRENCH: Arrow-root de Tahiti, Tacca.
GERMAN: Ostindische pfeilwurz., Ostindisches arrowroot, Takka.
GUAM: Gapgap.
HINDI: Bagh-moochh, Devkanda.
MARATHI: Devkanda.
MALAYSIAN: Janggut adam.
NIGERIA: Giginya biri, Gaatarin zoo moo.
SAMOAN: Masoa.
SPANISH: Arrowroot De Taití, Yabia
TAMIL: Kattukkarunai, Cenai, Kakanam, Kattu-k-karunai.
TELUGU: Adavidumpa.
TONGA: Mahoa'a.

Gau-gau's is a wild perennial herb. Rootstock is tuberous, depressed-rounded, up to 30 centimeters in diameter. Petiole is often nearly 1 meter long, hollow, 1.5 to 2 centimeters in diameter, and striate. Leaves are tripartite, spreading, 1 to 1.5 meters in diameter; the segments 2-fid or irregularly pinnatifid or pinnate at the base, often large, irregularly lobed. Scape is up to 1.4 meters long, hollow, tapering, green, erect, 10- to 40-flowered. Flowers are crowded at the apex, pedicelled, drooping, intermixed with very long, filiform bracts, subtended by 4 to 12 oblong, acuminate, 5 to 7 centimeters long, involucrate leaves. Perianth is green and purplish, about 1 centimeter long. Fruits are ellipsoid or ovoid, smooth, yellowish, 6-ribbed, and 3 to 4 centimeters long.

- In sandy soils in thickets near the sea throughout the Philippines.
- Native to Malaysia and the Pacific Islands, occurring from tropical Africa through Asia to northern Australia.
- Once widely cultivated in the tropics for its edible root.

- Analysis of the starch of gau-gau yielded: Moisture, 68%; starch, on wet basis, 24.03%; starch on dry basis, 75.1%; cyanogenetic glucosides, none; alkaloids, none.
- Phytochemical screening yielded alkaloids, saponins, and tannins from the leaf, while only alkaloids were present in the tubers.
- Tubers yield starch, ceryl alcohol, steroid saponins, and a bitter principle, Taccalin.
- Phytochemical screening showed the tubers to be rich in primary and secondary metabolites such as carbohydrates, alkaloids, vitamin C, vitamin E, flavonoids, phenols, glycosides, saponins, and volatile oils. Analysis of coarse tuber powder yielded major mineral contributions of iron (1046.786 ppm), manganese (42.915 ppm), zinc (12.665 ppm) and copper (5.729 ppm). (6)
- Study for bitter principles of pia yielded pikrosalvin, limonin, lactulin, tenulin, geigerin, absinthin, darutoside, alantopicrin, picrolichenic acid, marrubiin, nimbin, konduragin, elaterin, and acetylandromedol. (12)
- Proximate analysis of tuber starch yielded moisture 8.66%, crude protein 6.79%, crude fiber 5.44%, crude fat 0.51%, ash 0.41%, and NFE (total carbohydrate) 78.19%. Elemental analysis yielded sodium 34.71 mg/100g, potassium 40.18 mg/100g, calcium 0.25 mg/100g, magnesium 1.40 mg/100g, iron 1.37 mg/100g, zinc 1.64 mg/100g, manganese 0.72mg/100g, copper 0.68 mg/100g, and phosphorus 0.06 mg/100g. (13)
- Antinutrient analysis of tuber starch yielded tannins 2.50 mg/100g, phytate 49.77 mg/100g, oxalate 15.51 mg/100g, cyanide 0.18 mg/100g, alkaloids 42.90 mg/100g, saponins 14.67 mg/100g, and flavonoids 1.46 mg/100g. (13)
- HPTLC analysis of tubers for flavonoid content yielded rutin, diosmin, saponin, chlorogenic acid and quercetin. (16)
- Study of leaf extracts yielded major steroidal sapogenins: Diosgenin and its ring-F-hydroxylated derivatives isonarthogenin {spirost-5-ene-3,27-diol {3β, 22R, 25S)} and isonuatigenin {spirost-5-ene-3,25-diol (3β, 22R, 25S)}, together with the 22,25-epoxyfurost-5-ene isomer nuatigenin {furost-5-ene-3,26-diol-22,25-epoxy (3β, 22R, 25S)}. (21)

- Rootstock is bitter when raw.
- Considered vulnerary.
- Studies have suggest antioxidant, anti-trypanosomal properties.

- Tubers are considered poisonous, but the poison is removed by soaking and washing, and repeated rinsing of the starchy tubers in water.
- Peels have been found to be poisonous to livestock and other animals feeding on them. (See study below)

Parts used
- Rootstock.
- Tubers are harvested when the aerial parts have died. (9)


Edibility / Culinary
- Used as food as rhizomes yield a lot of starch. (See caution above)
- In Polynesia, gau-gau used as food for invalids, asserting it to be superior to all others.
- Fruits are sweet tasting.
- To obtain the starch, tubers are peeled and grated, the pulp washed in water several times, then sieved. From the aqueous starch solution, starch grains are allowed to settle, collected, and dried in the sun. (9)
- The Ati people of Iloilo pound or chew the rhizomes to fine pieces, then spit and spread it over the head of the afflicted baby to treat gas pains. (8)
- Used for dysentery and diarrhea.
- In India, also used for dysentery. Rhizome used for piles. (11)
- In India, the Bhilla tribe of Maharashtra apply paste of tubers on boils. (18)
- Used for body aches and headache, to stop internal hemorrhaging in the stomach and colon.
- Also, applied to wounds to stop bleeding.

- In Nigeria, the ground root is put on guinea worm infested area to stop epidemics; also taken as infusion to treat hepatitis. Root preparation used to treat snake bites. Flowers are rubbed on snake bites.
- In the Polynesian Islands, bitter raw tubers are used to treat stomach ailments, especially diarrhea and dysentery.
- In Hawaii, powdered starch applied to wounds as hemostatic; used to stop bleeding from the cutting of the umbilical cord. In the Cook Islands, starch applied to sores and burns. (10)
- In Hawaii raw tubers mixed with water and red clay are consumed for diarrhea and dysentery, and to stop stomach hemorrhages.
- In Hawaii, grated tubers are washed in running water for prolonged periods and the resultant bitter extract in diluted state is used to treat diarrhea and dysentery, especially in infants. (12)
- In the Ivory Coast, leaf decoction is taken orally for scrotal elephantiasis and stomach edema.
- Crushed leaf stalks are rubbed onto bee and wasp stings. Sap from roasted stem is squeezed into ears as remedy for earaches. (9)
- In Selangor, Malaysia, the Temuan tribe drink a root decoction with "selayar hitam" for good kidney function. Root decoction also drunk after childbirth to eliminate excessive gas. (19)
- In Nigeria, water in which tuber gratings have been washed is used as a detergent. Tubers are potential starting point for making alcohol. Also, the plant is used in traditional worship and sacrifices. (4)
- Root starch used to stiffen fabrics.
- Stem bast fibers used in weaving mats.
- Glue is produced from the potato-like fruit.
- In Tahiti, women use the plant fiber to make bonnets.

Study Tacca leontopetaloides showed the presence of important secondary metabolites. Screening yielded alkaloids, saponins, and tannins from the leaf while only alkaloids were present in the tubers. (4)
Chemical Analysis of Peels / High Anti-Nutritional Content:
Study of three samples showed a moisture content of 15.4% to28.3%, ash content of 4.13 to 9.6%, lipids 1.1 to 3.8%, fiber 1.1 to 2.07%, protein 0.07 to 0.18%, and carbohydrates 62.94 to 71.2%. Anti-nutrition components showed high cyanogenic glycoside levels. Saponin was 31.5 to 35 mg/k. Study suggests that although the peels has a high content of carbohydrates, it i not suitable for consumption because of high anti-nutritional factors. (5)
Study of methanol extracts of tubers by DPPH and scavenging methods showed significant antioxidant activity. (6)
• Antitrypanosomal / Novel Taccalonolide / Tubers: Study of dried roots yielded several taccalonolides and were found to have in vitro antitrypanosomal activity against Trypanosoma brucei brucei. EC50 values for isolated compounds were 0.79 µg/ml. (14)
• Nutritional and Subchronic Toxicity / Tubers: Tacca is a great energy source, basically composed of carbohydrates (90-92%) with low levels of protein (2-3%), ash (2.5%), and lipids (2.1%). However, the tubers contain appreciable amounts of antinutrients such as saponins, phytic acid and polyphenols. While fresh tacca tubers yield high levels of saponins, alkaloids, and phytates, post-harvest treatment lower them to non toxic level. While T. leontopetaloides has recognized toxicity, the toxicity depends on the quantity ingested. At low levels of ingestion, unprocessed tacca may have a positive effect on lipid metabolism via reduction of LDL-cholesterol and limiting of lipid digestion by increasing fecal lipids. (15)
• Potential Green Material for the Manufacture of Automotive Parts: Study reports on the potential of Tacca leontopetaloides starch as low cost green material in the manufacture of automotive parts. The green material showed potential in the production of floor mats for automotive use. Tensile strength was higher and the VOCs released on exposure to high temperature was lower than existing floor mats in use. (17)
• Antihyperlipidemic / Hypolipidemic / Tubers:
Study evaluated the antihyperlipidemic and hypolipidemic properties of aqueous extracts of tubers of T. leontopetaloides in rats. Results showed reduction in total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol and a significant increase in HDL-C (p<0.05). (20)


Updated March 2018 / December 2014

IMAGE SOURCE: Public Domain / File:Tacca pinnatifida 2.jpg / Illustration of Tacca pinnatifida / Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911) / Curtis's botanical magazine vol. 119 ser. 3 nr. 49 tabl. 7300 from www.botanicus.org / Wikimedia Commons
IMAGE SOURCE: Public Domain / File:Tacca pinnatifida 1.jpg / Illustration of Tacca pinnatifida / 1893 / Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911) / Curtis's botanical magazine vol. 119 ser. 3 nr. 49 tabl. 7300 from www.botanicus.org / Wikimedia Commons
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Photograph / flower of Tacca leontopetaloides, W National Park, Burkina Faso / Tacca leontopetaloides za plodu / Marco Schmidt[1] – Vlastní dílo / CC BY-SA 3.0zobrazit podmínky / Wikimedia Commons

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Tacca leontopetaloides / LC / Threatened Plants Info
Tacca leontopetaloides (L.) Kuntze (accepted name) / Chinese name / Catalogue of Life, China
Tacca leontopetaloides (Arrowroot) / Vernacular names / Zipcodezoo
Phytochemical Screening of Tacca Leontopetaloides (L.) Kuntze Collected from Four Geographical Locations in Nigeria / T. I.Borokini1*, A. E. Ayodele / International Journal of Modern Botany 2012, 2(4): 97-102 DOI: 10.5923/j.ijmb.20120204.06
Chemical Analysis of Tacca leontopetaloides Peels / S.T. Ubwa, B.A. Anhwange and J.T. Chia / American Journal of Food Technology, 6: 932-938. / DOI: 10.3923/ajft.2011.932.938
Phytochemical Screening and Antioxidant Activity of Tuber Extracts of Tacca pinnatifida J.R.&J.G.Fors
t / Sanjay Jagtap*, Rajendra Satpute / International Journal of Recent Trends in Science And Technology, ISSN 2277-2812 E-ISSN 2249-8109, Volume 9, Issue 3, 2014 pp 389-396
Tacca leontopetaloides / Synonyms / The Plant List
Ethnopharmacological Study of the Ati Tribe in Nagpana, Barotac Viejo, Iloilo / D A Madulid, F J M Gaerlan, E M Romero and E M C Agoov / Acta Manilana 38 (1989): pp 25-40
Tacca leontopetaloides / Useful Tropical Plants
Tacca pinnatifida / Cheryl Williams / Medicinal Plants of Australia, Vol 3: Plants, Potions and Poisons
Exploration of Medicinal Plants Used by the Malayali Tribes of Kolli Hills, Tamil Nadu, India / A Anjalam, R Elangomathavan and S Premalatha / Int. J. Res. Ayurveda Pharm, 5(2), Mar-Apr 2014
A chemical study of the bitter principle of pia (Tacca Leontopetaloides (L.) O. Ktze
/ Carl E Swanholm / Thesis: 1959 / University of Hawaii
Root tuber of Tacca leontopetaloides L. (kunze) for food and nutritional security / Ogbonna AI*, Adepoju SO, Ogbonna CIC, Yakubu T, Itelima JU, Dajin VY / Microbiology: Current Research 2017, Vol 1 Issue 1
Antitrypanosomal Activity of a Novel Taccalonolide from the Tubers of Tacca leontopetaloides. / Dike V T, Vihijor B, Bosha J A, Tin T M, Ebiloma G U, de Koning H P, Igoli J O, Gray A I / Phytochem Anal. 2016 May; 27(3-4): pp 217-21. / doi: 10.1002/pca.2619.
In Vivo Assessment of the Nutritional and Subchronic Toxicity of Tacca leontopetaloides (L.) Tubers / Ndouyang CJ, Nguimbou RM, Njintang YN, Scher J, Facho B, Mbofung CMF / Scholarly Journal of Agricultural Science Vol. 4(1): pp 5-13; Jan 2014
Chemical Fingerprinting of Flavonoids in Tuber Extracts of Tacca leontopetaloides (L.) O. Ktze  / Sanjay  Jagtap and Rajendra Satpute / Journal of Academia and Industrial Research (JAIR), Volume 3, Issue 10 March 2015
The Potential Use of Tacca leontopetaloides as Green Material in Manufacturing Automotive Part / N. S. Mohd Makhtar et al. / Applied Mechanics and Materials, Vol. 575, pp. 65-72, 2014 / DOI: https://doi.org/10.4028/www.scientific.net/AMM.575.65
Studies on plants used in traditional medicine by Bhilla tribe of Maharashtra / S Y Kamble, S R Patil, P S Sawant et al / Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge Vol. 9 (3), July 2010, pp. 591-598
The Use of Medicinal Plant Species by the Temuan Tribe of Ayer Hitam Forest, Selangor, Peninsular Malaysia / FARIDAH HANUM and NURULHUDA HAMZAH / Pertanika J. Trop. Agric. Sci. (1999) 22(2): pp 85-94
Antihyperlipidem ic and hypolipidemic properties of Tacca leontopetaloides (L.) Kuntze (Dioscoreales: Dioscoreaceae) tuber’s aqueous extracts in the rats / Doubla Sali Aïssatou, Josiane Thérèse Ngatchic Metsagang, Celestin Dongmo Sokeng and Nicolas Yanou Njintang / Brazilian Journal of Biological Sciences, 2017, Vol 4, No 7: pp 67-80 / https://dx.doi.org/10.21472/bjbs.040708
Steroidal Sapogenins from Tacca leontopetaloides / Abdallah M. E. Abdel-Aziz, Keith R. Brain, Gerald Blunden, Trevor Crabb, Ahmed K. Bashir / Planta Med 1990; 56(2): 218-221 / DOI: 10.1055/s-2006-960929

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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