Lukmoy (Rhaphidophora monticola)

Description and Characteristics

            Lukmoy are root climber plants that cling on many tropical trees and are characterized by their prominent, stout aerial roots that more often extend from the top of tall trees down to the ground. The aerial root has a diameter of at least 0.5 centimeter, brown and smooth, and sometimes flaking especially for older, mature roots. Its stem measures 1 centimeter or more in diameter, usually green fleshy when young then turns dark brown and develops long, narrow cracks or openings as it matures. Aerial roots develop from the stem which allows the plant to climb and attach to upright surfaces. Lukmoy leaves are alternately arranged in its stem and have a leathery texture. Young leaves are usually elliptic in shape and as they mature, they transform into an egg-like shape with pointed apex and somewhat heart-shaped base. A leaf measures at approximately 48 centimeters long by 30 centimeters wide and is glossy green on the upper surface while dull yellow green on the lower surface. A leaf is attached to the stem with a covering stalk called the “petiole” which extends from the base of the leaf to the stem. Petioles enclosed the newly developed nodes from the stem and the nodes later on developed into aerial roots.

Photo and copyright: FPRDI-ITTO Project PD 448/07 Rev. 2(I) | Resource survey and inventory of selected non-timber forest products (NTFP) in secondary growth forest in selected projects sites in Quezon and Camarines Norte,

Location and Sources

            It is endemic to the Philippines and is best grown if not exposed to very high temperatures for extended periods of time. Lukmoy species grew in areas ranging from sea level to 1,200 meters above sea level. Many studies suggest that it reaches its largest dimensions at lower altitudes while smaller dimensions but notably abundant in mossy forests. It is also native in limestone and secondary forests. Normally located on both dead and growing trees’ trunks, stems, and stalks, and may eventually occupy the entire tree on maturity. Lukmoy also climbs on rocks and walls. It is initially identified in the province of Dumaguete and Negros and is later on known to be also distributed in the provinces of Aurora, Laguna, Sorsogon, Leyte, Surigao, and other provinces of Luzon and Mindanao. Due to its easy propagation (thru stem cuttings, seeds, shoot tips, and stem nodes) joint with its current popularity around the world, this species has been grown in many private plant collections, botanical gardens, and even at home.

Application and Product Output

            The green young vigorous leaves of lukmoy create a tranquil but dynamic effect to the surrounding environment making it suitable as ornamental plant in different hotels, gardens, establishments, or even at home. Moreover, the leaf extracts have some traditional medicinal benefits such as cure for diarrhea, asthma, rheumatism, snake bites, and ailments of the intestinal tract. Roots of lukmoy are originally used for tying but recent studies reveal that the inner core of lukmoy roots are excellent materials for the manufacture of handcrafted products. Furthermore, the uniform measurement of the aerial roots make it ideal for weaving baskets, bags, hammocks, trays, radles, hats, home decors, and other similar products.

Photo and copyright (left to right): Jennifer M. Conda | Philippine Forest Woody Vines,; Garrick & Ginger Hyde | WORLD NATIVITY, ; RP Escobin, RA Natividad, FC Pitargue Jr. | Philippine Raw Materials Sourcebook Vol.1,
Products from Lukmoy and other indigeniuos materials made by local artisans managed by  Vicente Abisamis of V. Abisamis Handicraft located in the province of Quezon.

Production and Sustainable Consumption

             Production of lukmoy products is not widely known in the Philippines but it is utilized as a substitute for rattan. Currently, there is no news of shortage in the supply of lukmoy throughout the country. However, in a presentation entitled “Philippine Forest Woody Vines” by Jennifer M. Conda of Forest Products Research and Development Institute under the Department of Science and Technology, she enumerated the different problems confronting Non-wood Forest Products-based (NWFP) industries including lukmoy.

For the protection, conservation, and sustainability of these plants and its industries, the government established different regulations and requirements from its harvest, transport, and utilization. This includes: (1) implementation of forest charges wherein holders of NWFPs licenses or permits are required to pay the forest charges prior to transport, disposition or processing. Forest officers assess the charges on the products’ market value; (2) monitoring  of the movement of NWFPs from the forests to markets or processing plants by securing Certificates of Minor Forest Products Origin (CMFPO) from the local Community Environment and Natural Resources Office prior to transport of forest products. Other actions include sustainable management of resources, utilization of non-commercial species, improved harvesting and utilization technologies by conducting seminars and training, plantation development, and strict implementation of existing regulations.

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Works Cited

“Rhaphidophora monticola K.Krause”. Kewscience, Plants of the world online, Accessed 1 February 2021.

“The unusual and majestic Rhaphidophora monticola”. Jardinerongsunog, 26 March 2020, Accessed 1 February 2021.

Conda, Jennifer. “Philippine Forest Woody Vines”. DOST Forest Products Research and Development Institute, Accessed 1 February 2021.

Escobin, Ramiro, Natividad, Robert, Pitargue, Fernando Jr. “Philippine Raw Materials Sourcebook (Holiday Decors, Wearables, Gifts”. Department of Science and Technology – Forest Products research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI), Volume 1, June 2007, Accessed 1 February 2021.

Lapis, Aida, Santander, Moreno Jr. “The diversity of non-wood forest species and the significant role of the indigenous communities in the Philippines”. FAO, 2003, Accessed 1 February 2021.

Palijon, Armando, Razal, Ramon. “Non-wood Forest Products of the Philippines”., Accessed 1 February 2021.


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