Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Syst. veg. 3: 850 (1826).
Origin and geographic distribution
Chrozophora senegalensis occurs from Mauritania east to Nigeria.
Throughout West Africa a leaf macerate is taken to treat tapeworm and roundworm. In Senegal a root decoction is given to suckling babies to treat diarrhoea. A fruit maceration is taken to treat ophthalmia, conjunctivitis and night blindness. The fruit juice is used as eye drops to treat more severe cases. A maceration of leaves and roots is drunk to treat loss of hair and diabetes. In Mali a maceration of the aerial parts is applied to wounds to improve healing. In Côte d’Ivoire an enema made from the aerial parts is given to children with rickets. An infusion of the aerial parts is taken to treat stomach-ache and venereal diseases. An infusion of the whole plant is astringent and taken in northern Nigeria with cereals to treat diarrhoea. The infusion is also topically applied to treat rheumatism. The aerial parts also enter in a complex medicine to treat venereal diseases and mental disorders.
In Senegal the plant is not browsed by most stock, except occasionally by camels, sheep and goats, as it causes vomiting and diarrhoea. The aerial parts yield a black dye, which is used to colour mats.
A water extract of the aerial parts caused an in-vivo hypoglycaemic response in rats.
Monoecious, shrubby herb up to 60 cm tall; taproot stout and very long; stem ascending, knotty, much-branched from the base, densely short-hairy. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules small; petiole short; blade angular-ovate to triangular-ovate, 2.5–4 cm × 1.5–3 cm, base deeply cordate with 2 basal glands, apex rounded, margins undulate, upper surface sparsely hairy, lower surface densely short-hairy, 3-veined at base. Inflorescence a condensed axillary raceme, with male flowers at the top and female flowers at the base; bracts small. Flowers unisexual, regular, 5-merous; calyx short-hairy, petals deep red; male flowers with short pedicel, stamens up to 10, filaments fused into a column; female flowers with long pedicel, petals smaller than in male flowers, ovary superior, 3-celled, styles 3, fused at base, 2-fid at apex. Fruit a 3-lobed capsule c. 1 cm long, densely covered with white, shiny stalked scales, 3-seeded. Seeds ovoid, smooth, yellowish brown, covered by a thin, pale, shiny aril.
Chrozophora comprises 7–8 species and is distributed in Africa, southern Europe and Asia. Chrozophora senegalensis closely resembles Chrozophora brocchiana (Vis.) Schweinf., but the former species has shorter hairs, shorter petioles and non-elongating sepals in fruit.
Chrozophora senegalensis occurs on sandy soils, in seasonally flooded areas and on riverbanks in savanna regions with a pronounced dry season. It is also a weed of cultivated land.
Genetic resources and breeding
Chrozophora senegalensis is relatively common in its distribution area and not threatened by genetic erosion.
Chrozophora senegalensis has a wide range of local medicinal uses, but virtually nothing concerning its chemistry and pharmacology is known. Research is therefore warranted.
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Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2007. Chrozophora senegalensis (Lam.) A.Juss. ex Spreng. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.