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Family Podocarpaceae
Buddhist pine
Podocarpus macrophyllus (Thunb.) Sweet

Luo han song

Scientific names Common names
Margbensonia forrestii (Craib & W.W.Sm) Bobr. & Meliky. Podocarpus (Engl.)
Margbensonia macrophylla (Thunb.) A.V. Bobrov & Melikyan Buddha pine (Engl.)
Nageia macrophylla (Thunb.) F. Muell. Buddhist pine (Engl.)
Podocarpus forrestii Craib & W.W. Sm. Japanese yew pine (Engl.)
Podocarpus macrophyllus (Thunb.) Sweet Yew pine (Eng.)
Podocarpus verticillatus G.Don.  
Taxus macrophylla Thunb.  
Taxus makoya Forbes  
Podocarpus macrophyllus (Thunb.) Sweet is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Luo han song.
JAPANESE: Inumaki, Kusamaki.

Buddhist pine is an evergreen shrub or tree that may grow 20 to 30 feet high. Branches are numerous, crowded and upright. Leaves are narrow-linear to lanceolate, stiff with an acute tip and obtuse base. Blade is dark green above and pale green below, with entire margins. Male and female cones are in separate plants. Seed is globose-ovoid and borne in a fleshy violet receptacle.

Introduced to the Philippines after WWII.
Common garden cultivation.


• Study yielded a new biflavonoid, 2,3-dihydro-4',4'''-di-O-methylamentoflavone and five known compounds (catechin, quercetin, 2,3-dihydrosciadopitysin, sciadopitysin, and isoginkgetin.
• From the leaves, study yielded hinokiflavone, neocryptomerin, sciadopitysin, podocarpusflavone A and podocarpusflavone B.

• Study of leaves and twigs isolated a new 8-aryl flavone, podocarflavone A, together with 15 previously reported flavonoids. (see study below) (8)

• Studies suggest anti-pigmentation, antimicrobial, cytotoxic, and cardioprotective properties.

- Fruits reported to be edible, raw or cooked.
- No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- Stem bark used in the treatment of worms, especially ringworm and blood disorders.
- Fruit decoction used as tonic for the heart, kidneys and stomach.
- Wood used in making furniture, utensils, paper implements.

Study yielded a new biflavonoid, 2,3-dihydro-4',4'''-di-O-methylamentoflavone and five known compounds (catechin, quercetin, 2,3-dihydrosciadopitysin, sciadopitysin, and isoginkgetin. The new biflavonoid was the most active component in inhibiting pigmentation through inhibition of transcription of the genes encoding TRP2. (1)
Antimicrobial / Antifungal:
A study of South African Podocarpus species showed all four tested species exhibited antimicrobial activity, the highest against K pneumonia. All species exhibited strong antifungal activity. (2)
Ponasterone / Mammary Gland Disease: Sustained mammary gland-directed, ponasterone A-inducible expression in transgenic mice. The transgenic model with both tightly regulated and homogenoeous transgene expression has broad practical applicability for genetic analysis of mammary gland disease. (3)
Cytotoxic Dilactones:
Study yielded 14 new bisnor- and norditerpene dilactones, makilactones E-R and 13 known bisnor- and norditerpenoids from the methanolic extract of the root and bark of Podocarpus macrophyllus. Many of the compounds showed potent cytotoxic activities against P388 murine leukemia cells. (4)
Cardioprotective / Flavonoids:
Study of twigs and leaves isolated one 8-aryl flavone, podocarflavone A, together with 15 known flavonoids. The flavonoids exhibited significant cardioprotective effects by decreasing the H2O2 -induced death of H9c2 cell and the levels of lactate dehydrogenase and creatine kinase, and by inhibiting the elevated intracellular concentration of reactive oxygen species. (8)

Garden cultivation.

Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Last Updated November 2015

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: / Illustration / Podocarpus macrophyllus (Thunb.) Sweet / Siebold, P.F. von, Zuccarini, J.G., Flora Japonica, t. 134 (1875) / PlantIllustrations.org

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
New Constituent from Podocarpus macrophyllus var. macrophyllus Shows Anti-tyrosinase Effect and Regulates Tyrosinase-Related Proteins and mRNA in Human Epidermal Melanocytes / Kur-Ta Cheng et al / Chem. Pharm. Bull., Vol. 55, 757-761 (2007) / doi:10.1248/cpb.55.757 JOI JST.JSTAGE/cpb/55.757
Antimicrobial activity of South African Podocarpus species / H S Abdillahi et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology / Volume 119, Issue 1, 2 September 2008, Pages 191-194 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2008.06.023
Sustained mammary gland-directed, ponasterone A-inducible expression in transgenic mice / Chris Albanese et al / The FASEB Journal. 2000;14:877-884

Cytotoxic bisnor- and norditerpene dilactones having 7alpha,8alpha-epoxy-9,11-enolide substructure from Podocarpus macrophyllus D. DON. / Kimihiko Sato et al / Chemical & pharmaceutical bulletin • 2009-Jul. Vol 57, issue 7: pp668-79
Studies on Bisflavones in the Leaves of Podocarpus macrophylla and P. nagi / Miura Hiroshi et al / Chemical & pharmaceutical bulletin • 17(1) pp.150-154 19690125
Podocarpus macrophyllus / Synonyms / The Plant List
Podocarpus macrophyllus / Plants For A Future
Flavonoids from Podocarpus macrophyllus and their cardioprotective activities / Yun Qiao, Wei-Wei Sun*, Jian-Feng Wang & Ji-Dong Zhang* / Journal of Asian Natural Products Research, Volume 16, Issue 2, 2014 / DOI:10.1080/10286020.2013.861821

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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