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Discoclaoxylon hexandrum (Müll.Arg.) Pax & K.Hoffm.

Protologue
Engl., Pflanzenr. IV 147 VII: 137 (1914).
Family
Euphorbiaceae
Synonyms
Claoxylon hexandrum Müll.Arg. (1864).
Origin and geographic distribution
Discoclaoxylon hexandrum occurs from Sierra Leone east to Ghana and from Nigeria east to Uganda and south to DR Congo.
Uses
In Ghana a decoction of the leafy twigs is taken as a purgative. Children play with the bright red seeds.
Botany
Small, dioecious, sparingly branched small tree up to 6(–10) m tall; bark grey; young shoots and petioles sparingly short-hairy, later almost glabrous, yellowish grey-green. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules tiny, soon falling; petiole (5–)8–17(–20) cm long, purplish; blade elliptical-oblong, 20–35 cm × 10–15 cm, base rounded to cuneate, apex acute to obtuse, margins toothed, firmly papery to leathery, almost glabrous, but short-hairy on main veins, purplish, later dark and glossy green. Inflorescence an axillary raceme up to 30(–50) cm long; bracts c. 1.5 mm long, acuminate, densely hairy. Flowers unisexual, petals absent; male flowers with jointed pedicel 3–4(–7) mm long; sepals 4, broadly triangular-ovate, c. 1.5 mm long, densely short-hairy outside, glabrous inside, pale green, disk shallowly lobed, c. 1.5 mm in diameter, papillose, stamens 6–7(–9), filaments c. 0.5 mm long, free; female flowers almost sessile, pedicel extending to 2 mm in fruit, basally jointed, calyx lobes 4, ovate, 1–1.5 mm long, united at base, densely woolly hairy outside, grey-green, disk glands 2, broadly triangular, c. 1 mm × 1.5 mm, ovary superior, 2-lobed, c. 1.5 mm in diameter, densely woolly hairy, 2-celled, styles 2, c. 0.5 mm long, free, feathery-hairy. Fruit a 2-lobed capsule c. 5 mm × 10 mm, lobes almost globular, densely yellowish grey-green woolly hairy, 2-seeded. Seeds almost globose, 3.5–4 mm in diameter, smooth, blackish, with a yellow, fleshy pseudoaril.
Discoclaoxylon comprises 4 species, which all occur in tropical Africa. Discoclaoxylon hexandrum is the only species with a relatively widespread distribution; the other 3 species are endemic to different islands in the Gulf of Guinea. How distinct they are from one another requires further study. Some authors include Discoclaoxylon in Claoxylon.
Ecology
Discoclaoxylon hexandrum occurs in the understorey of secondary forest, often near paths, from sea-level up to 1200 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Discoclaoxylon hexandrum occurs in secondary vegetation and does not seem to be threatened by genetic erosion.
Prospects
Discoclaoxylon hexandrum will probably remain of limited local importance as a medicinal plant.
Major references
• 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.
• Irvine, F.R., 1961. Woody plants of Ghana, with special reference to their uses. Oxford University Press, London, United Kingdom. 868 pp.
• Radcliffe-Smith, A., 1987. Euphorbiaceae (part 1). In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 407 pp.
Other references
• Abbiw, D.K., 1990. Useful plants of Ghana: West African uses of wild and cultivated plants. Intermediate Technology Publications, London and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 337 pp.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
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. Discoclaoxylon hexandrum (Müll.Arg.) Pax & K.Hoffm. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.