Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Bull. Misc. Inform. Kew 1914: 337 (1914).
Origin and geographic distribution
Croton penduliflorus occurs from Sierra Leone east to Nigeria and also in the Central African Republic and Gabon.
In Côte d’Ivoire a leaf infusion is taken to treat menstrual disorders. In Ghana a leaf infusion is externally applied to treat fever. In Nigeria a seed extract is taken to treat stomach complaints and uterine tumours and as an abortifacient. The seeds, mashed with cassava, are eaten as a purgative.
The yellow wood is used to make rafters.
Production and international trade
In Nigeria the seeds are sold in the local markets. Also in Nigeria, a herbal laxative is made from the seeds of Croton penduliformis together with the leaves of Senna alata (L.) Roxb. In 2006, this product was sold at US$ 30 on the internet, packaged in 30-capsule plastic containers.
The seed oil is purgative. It contains crystals composed of equal amounts of palmitic, stearic and arachidic acids. Penduliflaworosin, a furanoid diterpene, was isolated from the roots.
A petroleum ether extract of the seeds given orally to mice induced purgation and showed increased gastric emptying in rats. It also produced oedema in the stomach and mild inflammatory reactions in the intestines. In addition to its irritant effect, it produced pathological lesions in several organs after chronic oral administration. Mice showed convulsions, paralysis and death after a dose of the crude seed oil. A petroleum ether seed extract showed significant dose-dependent contractions in isolated guinea-pig ileum and rat uterus primarily through a cholinergic mechanism. It also caused 100% foetal mortality by abortion in mice and rabbits during late pregnancy as well as foetal resorption during early pregnancy.
Seed oil crystals administered orally to rats offered significant protection against gastric ulcers and duodenal ulcers at moderate doses. The crystals also significantly reduced pentobarbitone-induced sleeping time in mice, thus stimulating their central nervous system, and reduced the intensity of the analgesic action of several opioids while prolonging their duration. Crude seed oil caused a reduction of the blood pressure in dogs.
Monoecious medium-sized tree up to 25 m tall; branches almost glabrous. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules tiny; petiole 2–5.5 cm long, glabrous; blade elliptical to ovate-elliptical, 6–14 cm × 3.5–8 cm, base rounded to cuneate, with 2 glands on 2–3 mm long stalk, apex shortly and abruptly acuminate, margins toothed, glabrous to sparsely short-hairy. Inflorescence an elongated terminal raceme 28–42 cm long, pendulous, with many male flowers interspersed with few female flowers. Flowers unisexual, 5-merous, regular, white; pedicel c. 4 mm long; male flowers with ovate sepals c. 1.5 mm long, stellate hairy, petals obovate, c. 2 mm long, upper margin woolly hairy, stamens 12, free; female flowers with oblong to lanceolate sepals c. 2 mm long, petals absent, ovary superior, rounded, densely hairy, 3-celled, styles 3, apex 2-fid. Fruit an ellipsoid, slightly 3-lobed capsule, pale green, hairy, 3-seeded.
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. Another medicinally used West African Croton is Croton nigritanus Scott-Elliot; in Sierra Leone the crushed leaves are applied to sores.
Croton penduliflorus occurs in lowland forest, mostly in rocky or dry localities.
Genetic resources and breeding
Croton penduliflorus is rather widespread but in many areas uncommon. However, there are no signs that it is threatened by genetic erosion.
Croton penduliflorus has several medicinal uses in West Africa, some of which have been confirmed by pharmacological research. When used as a purgative, the seed oil should be taken with caution because it has toxic side-effects. Further research on the seed oil is warranted.
• Asuzu, I.U., 2005. A review on Croton penduliflorus seed extract. Recent progress in medicinal plants. Stadium Press, Texas, United States. 32 pp.
• Asuzu, I.U. & Chineme, C.N., 2006. Acute toxicity and gastrointestinal effect of Croton penduliflorus seed oil in mice. Phytotherapy Research 2(1): 46–50.
• Asuzu, I.U. & Chineme, C.N., 2006. Investigations of the cytoprotective effect of the gut stimulating principle of Croton penduliflorus Hutch. seed oil in rats. Phytotherapy Research 3(1): 33–35.
• Keay, R.W.J., 1958. Euphorbiaceae. In: Keay, R.W.J. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 1, part 2. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 364–423.
• Onunkwo, G.C., 2006. Formulation of Croton penduliflorus seed into tablet dosage form. Global Journal of Medical Sciences 5(1): 29–33.
• Asuzu, I.U. & Chineme, C.N., 1989. Acute toxicity and gastrointestinal irritant effect of Croton penduliflorus seed oil in mice. Phytotherapy Research 2(1): 46–50.
• Asuzu, I.U., Gray, A.I. & Waterman, P.G., 1988. The extraction, isolation and identification of the purgative component of Croton penduliflorus seed oil. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 23: 267–271.
• Asuzu, I.U., Shetty, S.N. & Anika, S.M., 1989. Effects of the gut-stimulating principle in Croton penduliflorus seed oil on the central nervous system. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 26: 111–119.
• Asuzu, I.U., Shetty, S.N. & Anika, S.M., 1990. Effects of chronic oral administration in mice of the gut-stimulating crystals of Croton penduliflorus seed oil. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 30(2): 135–143.
• Burkill, H.M., 1994. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 2, Families E–I. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 636 pp.
• Kayode, A.E., 1981. The structure of penduliflaworosin, a new furanoid diterpene from Croton penduliflorus. Journal of the Chemical Society, Perkin Transactions 1: Organic and Bio-Organic Chemistry 1981(4): 1151–1153.
• Tra Bi, F.H., Kouamé, F.N. & Traoré, D., 2005. Utilisation of climbers in two forest reserves in West Côte d’Ivoire. In: Bongers, F., Parren, M.P.E. & Traoré, D. (Editors). Forest climbing plants of West Africa. Diversity, ecology and management. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, United Kingdom. pp. 167–181.
Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2007. Croton penduliflorus Hutch. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.