Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Encycl. 2: 205 (1786).
Ti bois de senteur (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Croton mauritianus is endemic to Réunion, and possibly also occurs on Mauritius.
A decoction of the chopped leaves is taken to treat fever and to improve the memory.
The aerial parts tested positive for alkaloids. A methanol extract of the leaves and of the stem had considerable free radical scavenging activity.
Monoecious shrub or small tree up to 5 m tall; stem up to 20 cm in diameter; young twigs with short stellate hairs. Leaves in whorls, simple, strongly scented; stipules small; petiole 2–5 cm long; blade ovate, 6–15 cm × 3–9 cm, base cordate, with 2 small, sessile glands, apex acute, margins variously toothed, soft-hairy on both sides. Inflorescence a terminal raceme 3–12 cm long, with up to 25 male flowers at end and 2–3 female flowers at base. Flowers unisexual, regular, 5-merous, white; male flowers with pedicel up to 15 mm long, sepals triangular, 2–3 mm long, with stellate hairs, petals oblong-obovate, c. 5 mm long, stamens 45–60, free, 4–5 mm long; female flowers with pedicel 18–20 mm long, sepals fused to half their length, c. 5 mm long, petals oblong-obovate, 3–6 mm × 1–2 mm, recurved between the sepals, with long hairs on margins, staminodes c. 3 mm long if present, ovary superior, rounded, 3-lobed, silky hairy, 3-celled, styles 3, several times 2-fid. Fruit an oblong to ovoid, 3-lobed capsule 6–8 mm long, with stellate hairs, 3-seeded. Seeds ovoid, pale brown to black.
Croton comprises about 1200 species and occurs throughout the warmer regions of the world. It is best represented in the Americas; in continental Africa about 65 species occur and in Madagascar about 125. Réunion has 1 endemic species and Mauritius about 4.
Croton mauritianus occurs in semi-dry forest and steep hill sides at low altitudes.
Croton mauritianus can be propagated by stem cuttings.
Genetic resources and breeding
Croton mauritianus is commonly used as an ingredient of medicinal preparations, and is therefore becoming rare in the wild. It has a protected status in Réunion.
Croton mauritianus has several interesting medicinal uses, which are partly confirmed by pharmacological tests. More research is warranted to evaluate the real potential of the species. More efforts are needed to domesticate Croton mauritianus and protect it from extinction.
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Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2007. Croton mauritianus Lam. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.