What does science says about metal leaf or red ivy plant

red ivy

Scientific names Common names
Hemigraphis colorata (Bl.) Hallier Dahon-pula (Tag.)
Hemigraphis alternata (Burm. f.) t. Anders. Dahong piula (Tag.)
Ruellia alternata Cemetery plant (Engl.)
Ruellia colorata Blume Metal leaf (Engl.)
Purple waffle plant (Engl.)
Red flame ivy (Engl.)
Red ivy (Engl.)
Dahong pula is a common name shared by (1) Hemigraphis colorata, Metal leaf, and (2) Iresine herbstii, blood leaf


Other vernacular names
INDIA: Murikootti, Murian pacha.
INDONESIA: Keji beling, Sambang getis, Sarap, Lire, Remek daging, Reundeu beureum.
MALAYSIA: Benatu api.
VANUATU: Noyon gengen.


Hemigraphis is a genus of about 90 species of low-growing, slender-stemmed annuals, perennials and subshrubs.


Red ivy is a prostrate herb. Leaves are opposite, ovate, 4.5 to 8 centimeters long, 3.5 to 4.5 centimeters wide, with a subobtuse tip and rounded and heart-shaped base with toothed margins. Upper surface of the leaves is dark purple throughout. Flowers are white, borne in terminal spikes up to 7 centimeters long, with large imbricate bracts. Calyx is green and 5-parted. Corolla is tubular, cylindric below, swollen above, 10 to 15 millimeters long, and 5-lobed. Capsule is linear.


– Ornamental indoor and outdoor plant for its attractive foliage.

– Cultivated in Manila and roadside provincial garden-marts for its leaves.

– Makes a good border plant.

– Native of Java.

– Now widely distributed in cultivation.


– 100 grams of  Red ivy fresh leaves reported to yield 0.351 grams of potassium.

– Extracts of  Red ivy leaves and stems yielded phenol, carbohydrates, steroids, saponins, coumarins, tannins, proteins, carboxylic acids, flavonoids, xanthoproteins and alkaloids.


– Red ivy is considered  as diuretic, vulnerary, antibacterial, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory.

Parts utilized


Folkloric traditional medicinal benefits and uses of red ivy or metal leaf

• Red ivy leaves consumed as a cure for gallstones

• Used as diuretic.

• In Java, leaves used in treatment of bloody dysentery and hemorrhoids.

• Used as decoction for excessive menstruation.

• Used externally for skin complaints.

• Paste of leaves applied to fresh cut wounds to stop bleeding and promote healing; also used for anemia.

• In Vanuatu, sap of Red ivy  leaf buds squeezed in water and drunk at dawn for 4 days as contraceptive and to induce sterility.

Scientific studies on benefits and uses of red ivy or metal leaf

Phytoremediation / Indoor Air-Purifying Plant:

VOQs (volatile organic compounds including benzene, xylene, hexane, heptane, octane, decane, trichlorethylene (TCE) and methylene chloride) have been known to cause or aggravate various illnesses when people are exposed to them in indoor spaces. Studies have shown the ability of some plants to remove VOCs, a process called “phytoremediation.” Of 28 species tested with 5 volatile indoor pollutants – benzene and toluene (plastics, cleaning solutions, environmental tobacco smoke), octane (paints, adhesive materials), TCE (tap water, cleaning agents, insecticides), and alpha-pinene (synthetic pains and odorants) – Hemigraphis alternata, Hedera helix, Hoya carnosa, Asparagus densiflorus had the highest removal rates for all the VOCs introduced. (1)


Antibacterial screening showed the benzene extract demonstrated maximum zone of inhibition against the pathogen Acinetobacter sp and S. aureus. (3)

Wound Healing:

Study evaluated the wound healing property of a leaf paste (topical application) or suspension in an excision wound model. The leaf paste promoted wound healing in mice, with faster wound contraction and epithelialization. The oral suspension was ineffective. (4)

Wound Healing / Dried Leaves Ointment:

Study evaluated the wound healing activity of a methanolic extract ointment of dried leaves of H. colorata in albino rats, using excision and incision models. In the excision model, results showed significantly higher closure wound closure than control, while in the incision model, the tensile strength of treated wounds was higher. Results encourage the use of H. colorata in the topical management of wounds. (7)


Study of n-hexane and ethanol extracts of whole plant showed lowering of blood glucose in glucose fed rats. The effect was attributed to steroids and coumarins present in the extract. It was devoid of any conspicuous toxic symptoms in sub-acute toxicity evaluation in mice. (10)

Antioxidant / Anti-Inflammatory / Cytotoxicity:

Study evaluated various extracts of crude plant for antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cytotoxicity properties. Results showed the ethanolic extracts to have more antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity than chloroform, hexane and acetone extracts. There was low cytotoxicity against DLA cell lines up to a concentration of 200 µg/mL in short- term bioassay. (9)

SLN (Solid Lipid Nanoparticiles) / Polyherbal Ointment / Anti-Inflammatory:

Study evaluated four different formulations of nano-encapsulated antimicrobial ointment from Plectranthus amboinicus and Hemigraphis colorata. Results showed the combination of plant extracts have enhanced antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties over usage of single plant extracts of PA and HC. (11)



Ornamental cultivation.

Scientific References used in this article

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