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Croton nitidulus Baker

Protologue
Journ. Linn. Soc., Bot. 20: 253 (1883).
Family
Euphorbiaceae
Origin and geographic distribution
Croton nitidulus is endemic to central and eastern Madagascar.
Uses
The bitter stem bark is taken to treat malaria and cough. The aromatic leafy branches are used as an insect repellent in mattress fillings, especially against lice. The leafy branches are also used to make a steam bath to clear the nose. The wood is used as firewood.
Properties
The aerial parts contain alkaloids.
Botany
Monoecious shrub or small tree up to 9 m tall, dichotomously branched; all parts with brown stellate hairs. Leaves almost opposite to alternate, simple, aromatic; stipules absent; petiole 1.5–2.5 cm long; blade lanceolate, 7–8 cm × 3–3.5 cm, base rounded, with 2 small, sessile glands, apex acute to acuminate, margins toothed, almost glabrous above, whitish hairy below. Inflorescence a terminal fascicle, with male flowers at end and 2–3 female flowers at base. Flowers unisexual, regular, 5-merous, white to pale yellow; male flowers with short pedicel, sepals whitish green, stamens 13–16, free; female flowers with pedicel enlarging in fruit to c. 2 cm long, sepals enlarging in fruit, petals tiny, linear, ovary superior, 3-lobed, with reddish scales, 3-celled, styles 3, several times 2-fid at apex, orange. Fruit a 3-lobed capsule, brown hairy, 3-seeded.
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. Almost 40 species from Madagascar are used in medicine, and several of them are morphologically close to Croton nitidulus. The aerial parts of Croton hovarum Leandri, cooked with chicken bones, are used to treat colic and acute weakness of the body. The leaves are toxic, and infusions of this plant are known to cause coronary vasoconstriction. A methanol extract of the leaves contained several clerodane-type furano-diterpenes. A decoction of the bitter stem bark of Croton mocquerysii A.DC. is taken to treat malaria. A leafy twig infusion of Croton macrobuxus Baill. (synonym: Croton sambiranensis Leandri) is taken to treat asthma attacks. The aerial parts contain several steroids and triterpenes, but few alkaloids.
Ecology
Croton nitidulus occurs near small streams and along forest edges, at (20–)300–2200 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Croton nitidulus is relatively common in its distribution area and there are no signs that it is threatened by genetic erosion.
Prospects
Croton nitidulus will probably remain of local importance as a medicinal plant.
Major references
• Boiteau, P., Boiteau, M. & Allorge-Boiteau, L., 1999. Dictionnaire des noms malgaches de végétaux. 4 Volumes + Index des noms scientifiques avec leurs équivalents malgaches. Editions Alzieu, Grenoble, France.
• Govaerts, R., Frodin, D.G. & Radcliffe-Smith, A., 2000. World checklist and bibliography of Euphorbiaceae (with Pandaceae). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 1620 pp.
• Leandri, J., 1939. Les Croton de Madagascar et des îles voisines. Annales de l’Institut Botanique-Géologique Colonial de Marseille 7(1). 100 pp.
Other references
• Coode, M.J.E., 1982. Euphorbiacées. In: Bosser, J., Cadet, T., Guého, J. & Marais, W. (Editors). Flore des Mascareignes. Familles 153–160. The Sugar Industry Research Institute, Mauritius, l’Office de la Recherche Scientifique Outre-Mer, Paris, France & Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 117 pp.
• Krebs, H.C. & Ramiarantsoa, H., 1997. Clerodane diterpenes of Croton hovarum. Phytochemistry 45(2): 379–381.
• Missouri Botanical Garden, undated. VAST (VAScular Tropicos) nomenclatural database. [Internet] http://mobot.mobot.org/W3T/Search/vast.html. Accessed December 2006.
• Rasoanaivo, P., Ratsimamanga-Urverg, S., Ramanitrahasimbolo, D., Rafatro, H. & Rakoto-Ratsimamanga, A., 1999. Criblage d’extraits de plantes de Madagascar pour recherche d’activité antipaludique et d’effet potentialisateur de la chloroquine. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 64: 117–126.
• Ratompomalala, N., 1983. Contribution à l’étude des blocs auriculo-ventriculaire complets chez l’enfant (A propos de 1 cas induit par tambavy). Thèse pour l’obtention du Doctorat en médecine, Faculté de médecine, Université d’Antananarivo, Madagascar. 120 pp.
Author(s)
G.H. Schmelzer
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

Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2007. Croton nitidulus Baker. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.