Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Bull. Soc. Bot. France 61, Mém. 8: 293 (1917).
Euphorbiaceae (APG: Putranjivaceae)
Origin and geographic distribution
Drypetes chevalieri occurs from Liberia east to Congo.
In Liberia the sap from the leaves and twigs is taken to treat dysentery and other intestinal troubles. In Côte d’Ivoire the powdered leaves are sniffed to treat colds, sinusitis and bronchial problems.
In Nigeria twiggy branches are made into brooms.
An extract of the dried stem yielded the sterol erythrodiol and the triterpenes drypechevalin A and drypechevalin B, lupeol, lupeone, putranjivadione and friedelin.
Monoecious or dioecious shrub or small tree up to 6 m tall; young stems with yellow to orange erect hairs. Leaves alternate, distichously arranged, simple; stipules small, soon falling; petiole up to 4 mm long; blade ovate to orbicular, 5–18 cm × 2–7.5 cm, base asymmetrical, one side deeply cordate, overlapping the twig, other side rounded to cordate, amplexicaul on young lateral shoots, apex long-acuminate, margins sharply toothed, with 6–8 pairs of looping lateral veins. Flowers axillary, unisexual, regular; petals absent; male flowers 2–3 together, with pedicel up to 2 mm long, sepals 4, small, short-hairy, stamens 8–15; female flowers solitary, with a pedicel up to 8 mm long, sepals 4, triangular to rounded, c. 2 mm long, short-hairy, yellowish green, ovary superior, slightly 2-lobed, densely white-hairy, 2-celled, styles 2, c. 1 mm long, stigma large, 2-lobed, flattened. Fruit an ellipsoid drupe up to 2.5 cm long, short-hairy, smooth, yellow to orange, 2-seeded. Seeds compressed ovoid, pale cream to brown.
Drypetes comprises about 210 species and is distributed throughout the tropics and subtropics. About 60 species occur in continental Africa and about 15 in the Indian Ocean islands. Several other Drypetes spp. are medicinally used in West Africa. Drypetes ivorensis Hutch. & Dalziel occurs from Liberia east to Cameroon. In Côte d’Ivoire the bark and fruits are crushed to make a dressing to mature abscesses. The bark is toxic and is used to prepare bait to poison rats and mice. In Liberia the fruits are eaten. Small rice mortars are made from the wood. Drypetes leonensis Pax occurs from Guinea to the Central African Republic, Gabon and DR Congo. A palm wine maceration of the stem bark is drunk to treat colic in children. The vapour from boiling bark is inhaled and a decoction is used as a mouth wash to treat scurvy.
Drypetes chevalieri occurs in wet or dry forest, from sea-level up to 1000 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Drypetes chevalieri is relatively common in its distribution area and therefore probably not threatened by genetic erosion.
Drypetes chevalieri has several medicinal uses. Research showed the presence of several phytochemically active compounds, but more research is needed to evaluate its potential.
• 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.
• Hawthorne, W. & Jongkind, C., 2006. Woody plants of western African forests: a guide to the forest trees, shrubs and lianes from Senegal to Ghana. Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 1023 pp.
• Wansi, J.D., Wandje, J., Kamdem, W.A.F., Ndom, J.C., Ngeufa, H.E., Chiozem, D.D., Chi Shirri, J., Choudhary, M.I., Tsabang, N., Tillequin, F. & Fomum, Z.T., 2006. Triterpenoids from Drypetes chevalieri Beille (Euphorbiaceae). Natural Product Research 20(6): 586–592.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Wurdack, K.J., Hoffmann, P., Samuel, R., de Bruijn, A., van der Bank, M. & Chase, M.W., 2004. Molecular phylogenetic analysis of Phyllanthaceae (Phyllanthoideae pro parte, Euphorbiaceae sensu lato) using plastid rbcL DNA sequences. American Journal of Botany 91(11): 1882–1900.
Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2008. Drypetes chevalieri Beille. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.