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Commicarpus plumbagineus (Cav.) Standl.

Protologue
Contr. U.S. Natl. Herb. 18(3): 101 (1916).
Family
Nyctaginaceae
Chromosome number
2n = 40
Synonyms
Boerhavia plumbaginea Cav. (1793).
Origin and geographic distribution
Commicarpus plumbagineus is widespread from southern Spain throughout Africa to South Africa and Madagascar, extending in the east to Palestine, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Uses
The roots and leaves of Commicarpus plumbagineus are expectorant and in large doses emetic, and are widely used to treat asthma. In West Africa the leaves are boiled and made into poultices for application to ulcers and Guinea worm sores. In Ghana the crushed roots are applied to treat yaws, whereas in Nigeria a poultice from the roots is used by Hausa people to treat leprosy. In Ethiopia a decoction of the leaves is taken to treat jaundice. A leaf decoction and the ash of burned stems are applied to wounds. In Ethiopia and Kenya ground leaves are applied to burns. In Kenya crushed leaves are rubbed on swollen glands. In Madagascar a decoction of the whole plant is used as laxative. In Ethiopia Commicarpus plumbagineus is used in veterinary medicine to treat skin diseases of cattle. In Kenya an infusion of the whole plant is used as an insecticide, e.g. against lice in humans and against other insects on camels. In DR Congo a decoction of the leaves is given as a laxative to cattle.
In northern Nigeria Commicarpus plumbagineus is sometimes grazed by livestock. In Kenya the plant is used as forage for all livestock, but is said to make the milk taste bitter.
Botany
Shrub, with stem base and roots woody; stem procumbent or scandent up to 4(–10) m long, much branched, glabrous or hairy. Leaves opposite, simple; stipules absent; petiole up to 4 cm long; blade ovate, 1.5–12 cm × 0.5–8 cm, base cordate, truncate or rounded, apex acute, apiculate, margins entire or wavy, slightly fleshy. Inflorescence an axillary or terminal irregular umbel, laxly flowered; bracts 1.5–4 mm long, linear-lanceolate, hairy. Flowers bisexual, regular; pedicel 1–5 mm long; perianth trumpet-shaped, 8–15 mm long, distinctly constricted above ovary, lower part surrounding the ovary with viscid glands, especially around the apex, glabrous to shortly hairy, upper part 7–12 mm long, 5–9 mm wide, lobes spreading, white, densely shortly hairy to glabrescent; stamens 3–5, long-exserted, joined at base into a short tube around the ovary; ovary superior but seemingly inferior, ellipsoid, stipitate, glabrous, 1-celled, style 15–18 mm long, long-exserted, slightly curled. Fruit an achene enclosed by the thickened lower part of the perianth (anthocarp), anthocarp cylindrical, fusiform to club-shaped, 7–11 mm × 1–2 mm, glabrous to hairy with numerous viscid glands concentrated towards apex, 1-seeded. Commicarpus comprises about 25 species and occurs throughout the tropics, but mainly in Africa. In Namibia a root decoction of Commicarpus pentandrus (Burch.) Heimerl mixed with Thesium lineatum L.f. is taken orally to treat gonorrhoea. Also in Namibia, a hot water extract of leaves and roots of Commicarpus fallacissimus (Heimerl) Pohnert is taken orally or as an enema to treat pain moving from the back to the legs.
Ecology
Commicarpus plumbagineus occurs in forest and grassland, often along water courses on a variety of soils up to 1800 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Commicarpus plumbagineus is widespread and hence not threatened with genetic erosion.
Prospects
In view of the many medicinal uses and the complete lack of chemical and pharmacological data, research into the properties of Commicarpus plumbagineus may prove worthwhile.
Major references
• Burkill, H.M., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 969 pp.
• Gilbert, M.G., 2000. Nyctaginaceae. In: Edwards, S., Mesfin Tadesse, Demissew Sebsebe & Hedberg, I. (Editors). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Volume 2, part 1. Magnoliaceae to Flacourtiaceae. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Department of Systematic Botany, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. pp. 264–273.
• Kokwaro, J.O., 1993. Medicinal plants of East Africa. 2nd Edition. Kenya Literature Bureau, Nairobi, Kenya. 401 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Stannard, B.L., 1988. Nyctaginaceae. In: Launert, E. (Editor). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 9, part 1. Flora Zambesiaca Managing Committee, London, United Kingdom. pp. 12–28.
Other references
• Dalziel, J.M., 1937. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. Crown Agents for Overseas Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 612 pp.
• Getahun, A., 1976. Some common medicinal and poisonous plants used in Ethiopian folk medicine. Faculty of Science, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 63 pp.
• Giday, M., Asfaw, Z., Elmqvist, T. & Woldu, Z., 2003. An ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used by the Zay people in Ethiopia. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 85: 43–52.
• Heine, B. & Heine, I., 1988. Plant concepts and plant use; an ethnobotanical survey of the semi-arid and arid lands of East Africa. Part 1. Plants of the Chamus (Kenya). Cologne Development Studies 6. Breitenbach, Saarbrücken, Germany. 103 pp.
• Heine, B. & Heine, I., 1988. Plant concepts and plant use; an ethnobotanical survey of the semi-arid and arid lands of East Africa. Part 3. Rendille plants (Kenya). Cologne Development Studies 8. Breitenbach, Saarbrücken, Germany. 120 pp.
• Irvine, F.R., 1961. Woody plants of Ghana, with special reference to their uses. Oxford University Press, London, United Kingdom. 868 pp.
• Morgan, W.T.W., 1981. Ethnobotany of the Turkana: use of plants by a pastoral people and their livestock in Kenya. Economic Botany 35(1): 96–130.
• Raimondo, F.M., Rossitto, M. & Sartoni, G., 1981. Additional records for the flora of Somalia. Webbia 35(1): 207–222.
• von Koenen, E., 2001. Medicinal, poisonous and edible plants in Namibia. Klaus Hess Verlag, Göttingen, Germany. 336 pp.
Author(s)
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands


Editors
G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
A. Gurib-Fakim
Faculty of Science, University of Mauritius, Réduit, Mauritius
Associate editors
C.H. Bosch
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
M.S.J. Simmonds
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB, United Kingdom
R. Arroo
Leicester School of Pharmacy, Natural Products Research, De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester LE1 9BH, United Kingdom
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
General editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
Photo editor
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
de Ruijter, A., 2007. Commicarpus plumbagineus (Cav.) Standl. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
inflorescence
obtained from
B. Wursten


inflorescence
obtained from
B. Wursten


flower
obtained from
B. Wursten