Bunga bakung are scientifically known in Latin as Hymenocallis littoralis. Internationally, in English, this plant is known as spider lily or beach spider lily.
Meanwhile, in Indonesia, this plant has many local names. Among them are bahong in the Medan area of North Sumatra, copper onions or kajang - kajang in Palembang, Semur in Bangka, and Bakueng in the Padang area.
The genus name Hymenocallis comes from a combination of two words in Greek 'hymen' which means membrane and 'callos' which means beauty. Hymenocallis then means 'beautiful membrane'. This name refers to the thin membrane that connects the filaments in the flower.
Spider lilies originate from the tropical regions of America which include Mexico, northern Peru and Brazil. This plant then spread to various regions in Asia including India, India, the Philippines, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as well as other countries on the American and African continents such as Angola, Central African Republic, Zambia, Tonga, Suriname, Samoa, Ecuador, Fiji and the Cook Islands (Hymenocallis Littoralis (Jacq.) Salisb. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science, 2023).
Spider lilies are herbaceous plants that can grow 60 to 90 cm tall. The leaves are long, sickle-shaped with a green color and a shiny surface, about 45 – 60 cm long with a width of 2.5 – 5 cm.
Another attention-grabbing feature of this plant is its star-shaped flowers with a diameter of around 15 to 20 cm. White with a yellow center. Each tube on the cover is approximately 14 to 17 cm long.
Spider lilies have a sweet, vanilla-like scent and grow through their stems. Generally, this plant can grow well in places exposed to direct sunlight, but it can also grow in slightly shady places. It is also said to require loose and moist soil with neutral pH conditions (UMMI Biological Laboratory - Hymenocallis littoralis, 2023).
Uses and Benefits of Spider lilies for Health
Spider lilies in Indonesia are generally used as ornamental plants, especially because of their unique flower shape and fragrant smell. However, quite a few also use the compounds contained in spider lilies in various traditional medicines. Some of the ingredients found in lilies include alkaloids, flavonoids, saponins, tannins, steroids, and fatty acids.
In Indonesia, this plant is generally not only used as an ornamental plant but is also used as an ingredient in traditional medicine to treat headaches and fever. Meanwhile, in its native region in Mexico, lilies known as azucena de mar or lirio de mar are used to treat various digestive problems and fevers (UMMI Biology Laboratory - Hymenocallis littoralis, 2023).
In Malaysia, spider lilies are used as medicinal ingredients in traditional medicine for healing wounds through methanol sonication extracts found in tubers, flowers, roots, anthers and plant stems (Sundarasekar J; Sahgal G; Murugaiyah V; Lay LK; Thong OM; Subramaniam S, 2018).
Not only was its traditional use tested, through several observations made it was also found that the methanol extract of the spider lily plant was also proven to show antimicrobial activity which inhibits the growth of E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus and has good antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. and anti-biofilm properties (Zhang et al., 2022).