Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Flora 47: 520 (1864).
Euphorbiaceae (APG: Phyllanthaceae)
2n = 26
Origin and geographic distribution
Antidesma laciniatum occurs from Sierra Leone east to southern Sudan and south to DR Congo and Uganda.
In Liberia a leaf decoction is taken as a bath to prevent miscarriage. In Côte d’Ivoire powdered bark is taken in water or palm wine as an aphrodisiac. In Congo a bark decoction is taken orally or as an enema to treat intestinal complaints. In Central Africa meat is served on the aromatic leaves.
The wood is yellowish white to pinkish and hard and does not work well. It is used to make poles for house construction and tool handles, as firewood and for charcoal production. The fruits are not palatable, unlike those of several other Antidesma spp.
Leaves from Cameroon yield an essential oil (1.8% on a dry weight basis), which contains mainly terpenoids (72%) with a relatively high amount of esters (41%). The two major constituents are the esters benzyl benzoate (19%), responsible for the sweet balsamic odour of the oil, and geranyl acetate (15%). Other constituents isolated from the essential oil are the terpenoid squalene, used in cosmetics as an oil-free moisturizer, and the biflavonoid amentoflavone, which has shown antiviral and anticancer activity and is a potent antioxidant. The essential oil showed significant activity against Plasmodium falciparum in vitro, but no important radical scavenging activity.
Dioecious, small tree up to 8(–15) m tall; branches spreading, young parts densely short-hairy. Leaves alternate, simple and entire; stipules with 3–9 lanceolate, linear or branched segments, 1–1.5 cm long, fairly persistent; petiole up to 5(–8) mm long; blade elliptical-oblanceolate to elliptical-oblong, 7.5–20 cm × 3–7 cm, base rounded to shallowly cordate, apex acuminate, variably hairy on veins. Inflorescence an axillary or terminal spike, sometimes with 1–2 lateral spikes at base, up to 10 cm long, in fruit up to 20 cm long. Flowers unisexual, regular, sessile or almost sessile, petals absent, disk annular; male flowers with cup-shaped calyx up to 1 mm long, 3-toothed, ciliate, reddish pink to reddish purple, stamens 3, 1.5–2 mm long; female flowers with cup-shaped calyx up to 1.5 mm long, 3-toothed, brownish, ovary superior, ellipsoid, c. 3 mm long, glabrous or hairy, 1(–2)-celled, styles 3, 2-fid or 2, 3-fid. Fruit a compressed ellipsoid to ovoid drupe up to 1 cm long, glabrous or hairy, brownish or yellowish to orange-red, 1-seeded. Seed ellipsoid.
Antidesma comprises about 155 species and occurs in the Old World tropics from tropical Africa and the Indian Ocean islands through Asia to Australia and the Pacific islands. In continental Africa 7 species occur and in the Indian Ocean islands 1 species. Antidesma laciniatum is rather variable and 2 varieties or subspecies are distinguished.
Antidesma laciniatum occurs in the understorey of dense forest, including secondary forest, and at forest edges, from sea-level up to 1200 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Antidesma laciniatum is widespread and not likely to be threatened by genetic erosion.
The essential oil from the leaves contains several compounds with interesting activities. The bark is also used medicinally, but nothing is known about its chemistry or pharmacology. More research is therefore needed to assess the potential of Antidesma laciniatum as a medicinal plant.
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Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2007. Antidesma laciniatum Müll.Arg. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
obtained from Tropicos