All about tinkling bell grass, science confirms

tinkling bell grass

The scientific name of the tinkling bell grass is Physalis minima Linn. It is also known as Pygmy groundcherry, and Sunberry.

Other names include

CHINESE: Xiao suan jiang.
FRENCH: Coqueret à petit fruit, Coqueret médicinal.
MALAY: Letup, Letup-letup, Rumput meranti.

Taxon confusion

Physalis, a genus of the family Solanaceae consists of about 100 species. Among these, Physalis minima has been confused with P. angulata (putokan). Some compilations list them as synonyms, others list them as separate species. In Bangladesh, the two have long been misidentified. A critical examination separates them as species.

Pantug-pantugan or tinkling bell grass is an erect, branched, hairy annual herb, growing 0.5 to 0.8 meter high. The branches are terete and often tinged with purple; the ultimate ones slightly angular. Leaves are ovate, 6 to 12 centimeters long, 4.5 to 7 centimeters wide, with pointed tip, rounded or slightly heart-shaped base, nearly entire or faintly undulately lobed margins. Flowers are solitary, axillary, about 8 millimeters long. Corolla is pale yellow, with 5 large, purple spots at the base inside. Fruit is round, fleshy and edible, about 1 centimeter in diameter. Calyx is inflated, accrescent, and ovoid, about 3 centimeters long, 2 centimeters in diameter, green, with 5 prominent and alternating slender and purplish ribs.


– Found from the Babuyan Islands and northern Luzon to Mindanao and Palawan.

– Often common in open, waste places at low altitudes, ascending up to 1,600 meters.

– Pantropic weed.


– Phytochemical studies yield alkaloids, anthraquinones, flavonoids, cardiac glycosides, phenols, quinones, reducing sugars, saponins, steroids, starch, tannin and terpenoids from the stem, leaf, and unripe fruit.


– Bitter tasting, cooling in effect.

– Fruit is alterative, diuretic, aperient.

– Plant is considered appetizer, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, antitussive, diuretic, laxative, expectorant, purgative, and tonic.

Parts utilized

Roots, leaves, fruits.


Fruit is edible.

Folkloric traditional medicine remedies, benefits, and uses of the pygmy groundcherry

– In Java, root is used as vermifuge.

– Root extract used for fever.

– Poultice of leaves, smeared with oiled and heated, applied to ulcers.

– Decoction of leaves with Plantago major used for gonorrhea; also, diuretic.

– Fruit used as alterative, diuretic and aperient; used in dropsy, urinary diseases, and gout.

– Used for colds and fever, swelling pain of the throat, bronchitis.

– Fruit used for gout; also used to infuse vigor and offset premature decay.

– In Konkan, plant paste made with rice water used to restore flaccid breasts.

– Poultice of fruits used for headaches and intestinal pains.

– In the Punjab, used for gonorrhea.

– Malays used a poultice for headaches and intestinal pains

– Pounded fresh material may be used as poultice or decoction of the same may be used as wash for eczema infection.

– Juice of leaves, mixed with mustard oil and water, used for earaches.

– In India, used for dysuria, ascites, ulcers, cough, bronchitis, pruritus and erysipelas. Used as a tonic, diuretic and purgative; as a remedy for spleen disorders.

Science proven benefits and uses of sunberry or tinkling bell grass


Study of extract of P minima on female albino rats exhibited variations in ovarian and uterine weights and significant histopathologic changes in the histoarchitecture of the female reproductive system.


Antimicrobial activity of Rauvolfia tetraphylla and Physalis minima leaf and callus extracts: Leaf and callus extracts of R. tetraphylla and P. minima inhibited bacterial and fungal growth.

Phytochemicals / Withaphysalin D:

Study yielded Withaphysalin D, a new withphysalin.

Anti-Inflammatory / Analgesic / relives pain, inflammation and swelling:

Study of the whole plant of Physalis minima on rats showed marked anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities. The antipyretic activity was insignificant. Results showed PM as a potential candidate as an antiinflammatory and analgesic agent.

Cytotoxic / Anti-Cancer / Human Lung Adenocarcinoma Cell Line:

In the study, the chloroform extract of Physalis minima exhibited remarkable cytotoxic activities on human lung adenocarcinoma cell line in time- and dose-dependent manners. Its apoptotic effect suggests potential for development as an anticancer drug.

Cytotoxic / Anti-Cancer / Withaphysalin:

Study yielded a novel withanolide, withaphysalin P with six other new withaphysalins 1-7 and three known withaphysalins 8-10. Some compounds showed moderate cytotoxic activity against two human cancer cell lines – colorectal-carcinoma and non-small cell lung cancer.

Hypoglycemic / Alpha-Glucosidase Inhibition:

Physalis minima extract showed in-vitro inhibitory activity of intestinal alpha glucosidase enzyme maltase with decrease intestinal absorption of monosaccharides through inhibition of disaccharide hydrolysis.

Apoptotic Effects / Anti-Breast Cancer:

A chloroform extract of Physalis minima produced significant inhibition against human T-47D breast carcinoma cells. It induced apoptotic cell death via p53-, caspase-3-, and c-myc-dependent pathways.

Antibacterial Potential:

Study showed a methanol and chloroform extracts of P. minima exhibited potent inhibitory activity against all the bacterial strains tested. Polar compounds in the crude extract were responsible for the antimicrobial action.


Study showed leaf and stem extracts tp have moderate antibacterial activity. Overall antibacterial assay showed the ethanolic extract to be more effetive than other solvents.

Anti-Lipid Peroxidation:

Study evaluated the free radical scavenging activity of ethanolic extracts of Piper trioicum and Physalis minima, with goat liver as the lipid source. Results showed suppression of lipid peroxidation. In the study, P. trioicum extract showed more activity than Physalis minima.



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