Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes m้dicinales 1
Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 43: 79 (1909).
Origin and geographic distribution
Croton jatrophoides occurs in the Central African Republic, south-eastern Kenya and Tanzania.
In Tanzania a strongly scented root extract is taken to treat colds and stomach-ache. The Washambaa people take a fruit extract to treat intestinal worms.
The wood is used for firewood, and to make beehives, water containers and knife sheaths. The leaves are used as fodder. Croton jatrophoides is also used as a shade tree.
Nine limonoids (tetranortriterpenoids) were isolated from a methanol extract of the root bark: dumsin, zumsin, dumnin, dumsenin, zumketol, zumsenin, zumsenol, musidunin and musiduol. Most of these compounds, extracted from plants collected near Mombasa, Kenya, showed potent antifeedant activity against the larvae of pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella) and fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda). Zumsenin and zumsenol were not tested as they occur in very small quantities.
Monoecious or dioecious small to medium-sized tree up to 18 m tall; young twigs stellate hairy, older twigs pinkish to greyish brown, almost glabrous. Leaves alternate, simple, turning orange before falling; stipules linear, up to 10 mm long, soon falling; petiole 37 cm long; blade broadly triangular-ovate, 515 cm ื 3.512 cm, base cuneate to cordate, with 2 small subsessile basal glands beneath, apex acuminate, margins coarsely toothed to almost 5-lobed, densely stellate hairy on both sides, greyish green beneath, later almost glabrous. Inflorescence a slender, terminal raceme 819 cm long, either with only male flowers or with 34 female flowers at base. Flowers unisexual, 5-merous, regular, white; male flowers with pedicel 34 mm long, sepals elliptical-ovate, c. 2.5 mm long, stellate hairy, petals elliptical-lanceolate, 2.53 mm long, acute, stamens 1415, free; female flowers with pedicel c. 2 mm long, fleshy, sepals lanceolate, c. 3 mm long, stellate hairy, petals absent, ovary superior, 2-lobed, densely stellate hairy, 2-celled, styles 2, 2-fid to base, c. 5 mm long, spreading-recurved. Fruit an ovoid, 2-lobed drupe c. 2.5 cm ื 2 cm, indehiscent, stellate hairy, 2-seeded. Seeds ovoid, c. 2 cm ื 1.5 cm, greyish brown mottled, slightly shiny.
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.
Croton jatrophoides occurs in dry coastal forest, riverine forest, forest borders and clearings, up to 250 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Croton jatrophoides is relatively rare and is included in the IUCN Red List of threatened species. Confirmation of the occurrence of the species outside Tanzania is needed in order to assess its genetic diversity.
The roots of Croton jatrophoides are used against colds and stomach-ache. Several limonoids were isolated from the root bark, which exhibit significant antifeedant activity against larvae of insects, but no information is available concerning their pharmacological activity. As many limonoids are biologically active, more research on Croton jatrophoides is recommended.
Kokwaro, J.O., 1993. Medicinal plants of East Africa. 2nd Edition. Kenya Literature Bureau, Nairobi, Kenya. 401 pp.
Lovett, J.C., Ruffo, C.K., Gereau, R.E. & Taplin, J.R.D., 2006. Field guide to the moist forest trees of Tanzania. [Internet] Centre for Ecology Law and Policy, Environment Department, University of York, York, United Kingdom. http://www.york.ac.uk/ res/celp/webpages/projects/ecology/ tree%20guide/guide.htm. Accessed January 2007.
Nihei, K., Asaka, Y., Mine, Y., Yamada, Y., Iigo, M., Yanagisawa, T. & Kubo, I., 2006. Musidunin and musiduol, insect antifeedants from Croton jatrophoides. Journal of Natural Products 69(6): 975977.
Radcliffe-Smith, A., 1987. Euphorbiaceae (part 1). In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 407 pp.
Lovett, J. & Clarke, G.P., 1998. Croton jatrophoides. [Internet] In: IUCN. 2006 Red list of threatened species. http://www.iucnredlist.org. Accessed January 2007.
Nihei, K., Asaka, Y., Mine, Y., Ito, C., Furukawa, H., Ju Ichi, M. & Kubo, I., 2004. Insect antifeedants from tropical plants: structures of dumnin and dumsenin. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 52(11): 33253328.
Nihei, K., Asaka, Y., Mine, Y. & Kubo, I., 2005. Insect antifeedants from Croton jatrophoides: structures of zumketol, zumsenin, and zumsenol. Journal of Natural Products 68(2): 244247.
Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2007. Croton jatrophoides Pax. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes m้dicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.