Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Ann. Inst. Bot.-Géol. Colon. Marseille sér. 5, 7(1): 45 (1939).
Origin and geographic distribution
Croton antanosiensis is endemic to Madagascar.
The stem bark is used to make a bitter alcoholic beverage, which is used in circumcision ceremonies to induce virility. A strong stem bark decoction was taken as an ordeal poison in former times. Leafy branches are used as mattress filling, especially as lice repellent. The leafy branches are used to fumigate houses in case of epidemic diseases.
More than 20 compounds have been found in the essential oil of the dried aerial parts of Croton antanosiensis, of which more than 70% are monoterpenes, followed by sesquiterpenes. Major components are α-pinene (33%), β-pinene (16%), limonene (6%) and trans-nerolidol (6%).
Monoecious shrub up to 4 m tall. Leaves opposite or in whorls of 3, simple, strongly scented; stipules tiny; petiole 5–8 mm long; blade lanceolate, 3–4 cm × c. 1 cm, base cordate, with 2 small, sessile glands, apex acute, margins variously toothed, glabrous above, beneath with silvery whitish peltate scales. Inflorescence a terminal raceme, with numerous male flowers at end and 3–4 female flowers at base. Flowers unisexual, 5-merous, regular, white; male flowers with pedicel up to 1.5 mm long, sepals triangular, yellowish brown, petals obovate to spoon-shaped, stamens 10–11, free, white; female flowers with robust pedicel c. 2 mm long, sepals triangular, petals absent, ovary superior, rounded, 3-lobed, silky hairy, 3-celled, styles 3, several times 2-fid. Fruit not known.
Croton comprises about 1200 species and occurs throughout the warmer regions of the world. It is best represented in the Americas; about 65 species occur in continental Africa and about 125 in Madagascar. Almost 40 species from Madagascar are used in medicine, and several of them resemble morphologically Croton antanosiensis. An infusion of the aromatic leafy branches of Croton anisatus Baill. or Croton ambanivoulensis Baill. is taken to treat dysentery and to calm colic. An infusion or a steam bath of the aerial parts of Croton boinensis Leandri is often taken to treat rheumatism including rheumatoid arthritis. A leaf infusion of Croton catati Baill. is taken to treat stomach-ache, cough and shortness of breath. Stem and root bark are used in fumigations to treat malaria. A bitter alcoholic beverage is made from the bark of Croton catati or Croton noronhae Baill., causing euphoria. The beverage can cause severe poisoning even at relatively low intake. The aromatic leafy branches of Croton greveanus Baill. are used as mattress filling to repel insects, especially lice. A bark decoction is taken to treat cough. A decoction of the aerial parts is taken to treat lumbar pain caused by chronic gonorrhoea. Leafy branches of Croton humbertii Leandri are hung in houses to repel insects and small pouches of dried leaves are carried on the body against lice. A leaf infusion of Croton kimosorum Leandri is an important medicine against coughs and an antispasmodic.
Croton antanosiensis occurs in hilly shrubland and in forest on laterite, sometimes near streams, from sea-level up to 1500 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Croton antanosiensis is probably not threatened by genetic erosion.
Croton antanosiensis is interesting for use as an insect repellent and as an antibacterial agent, but more information is needed, especially on the composition of the essential oil, to evaluate its potential.
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Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2007. Croton antanosiensis Leandri. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.