PROTA homepage Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Record display


Dichostemma glaucescens Pierre

Protologue
Bull. Mens. Soc. Linn. Paris 2(159): 1260 (1896).
Family
Euphorbiaceae
Origin and geographic distribution
Dichostemma glaucescens occurs from Nigeria east to the Central African Republic and south to DR Congo.
Uses
In Gabon a stem bark maceration is considered a tonic for nursing women. It is also taken as an emetic. In Congo an infusion of young leaves is taken to treat gastro-intestinal and liver complaints; the leaves are also eaten as a salad for the same purpose. In DR Congo the foul-smelling bark powder applied to the skin repels biting red ants; sometimes it is also put in the nest. Bark powder in water is taken to treat insanity and the bark enters in a mixture to treat male infertility. The sap is applied to teeth to treat toothache. In Cameroon and Gabon the juice of the twigs is an ingredient of arrow poison.
The whitish pink wood is used in house construction and as fuel.
Properties
A preliminary test showed that the leaves are rich in tannins.
Botany
Monoecious, small, slender tree up to 13 m tall; twigs glabrous, with abundant latex. Leaves alternate, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole 7–12 mm long; blade elliptical-oblong to lanceolate, 8–19 cm × 2.5–8 cm, base cuneate, apex acuminate, firmly papery to leathery, glabrous, glossy green above, glaucous beneath, pinnately veined with 6–8 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence a terminal, pyramidal, loose panicle up to 40 cm long, with powder-like indumentums, branches terminating in a group of 3 flower clusters enclosed by 2 deeply concave bracts, soon falling, leaving conspicuous scars; each flower cluster with cup-like, 4-angled, glandular involucre c. 2.5 mm long, containing 5–10 male flowers, sometimes also with a female flower. Flowers unisexual; male flowers reduced to a single, jointed stamen; female flowers reduced to a stalked ovary, usually 4-celled, with 4 styles fused at base, notched or shortly 2-fid at apex. Fruit a 4-lobed capsule 2.5–3.5 cm in diameter, depressed, appressed hairy with brown to dull purple hairs, 4-seeded. Seeds ellipsoid to almost globose, c. 11 mm in diameter, smooth, brown.
Dichostemma comprises 2 species, which both occur in tropical Africa.
Ecology
Dichostemma glaucescens occurs in rainforest, including secondary forest, as an understorey tree, from sea-level up to 500 m altitude. It is locally dominant along rivers, e.g. in Congo.
Genetic resources and breeding
Dichostemma glaucescens is common in its area of distribution and therefore not threatened by genetic erosion.
Prospects
Dichostemma glaucescens will probably remain of local importance only unless chemical and pharmacological analyses reveal interesting compounds or pharmacological activities.
Major references
• Brown, N.E., Hutchinson, J. & Prain, D., 1909–1913. Euphorbiaceae. In: Thiselton-Dyer, W.T. (Editor). Flora of tropical Africa. Volume 6(1). Lovell Reeve & Co., London, United Kingdom. pp. 441–1020.
• 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.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 1996. African ethnobotany: poisons and drugs. Chapman & Hall, London, United Kingdom. 941 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
Other references
• Falconer, J., 1990. The major significance of ‘minor’ forest products: The local use and value of forests in the West African humid forest zone. Community Forest Note 6, FAO, Rome, Italy.
• Keay, R.W.J., 1989. Trees of Nigeria. A revised version of Nigerian trees (1960, 1964) by R.W.J. Keay, C.F.A. Onochie and D.P. Stanfield. Clarendon Press, Oxford, United Kingdom. 476 pp.
• Pauwels, L., 1993. Nzayilu N’ti : guide des arbres et arbustes de la région de Kinshasa Brazzaville. Scripta Botanica Belgica. Volume 4. Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Meise, Belgium. 495 pp.
• Raponda-Walker, A. & Sillans, R., 1961. Les plantes utiles du Gabon. Paul Lechevalier, Paris, France. 614 pp.
• Terashima, H., Ichikawa, M. & Sawada, M., 1988. Wild plant utilization of the Balese and the Efe of the Ituri Forest, the Republic of Zaire. African Study Monographs, Supplement 8. The Center for African Area Studies, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan. 78 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., 2008. Dichostemma glaucescens Pierre. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.