Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Engl., Pflanzenr. IV 147 XV: 258 (1922).
Euphorbiaceae (APG: Putranjivaceae)
Origin and geographic distribution
Drypetes molunduana occurs in Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon.
In Cameroon a decoction of the leafy stem is taken to treat inflammations, boils, swellings and tumours. It is also used as a pain killer.
The wood is hard and in southern Nigeria it is used for construction.
Chemical analysis of the stems revealed the presence of the sesquiterpene lactone drypemolundein A, friedelane-3,7-dione and the friedelane derivatives drypemolundein B and acetyldrypemolundein, erythrodiol, oleanolic acid, hederagenin, syringaresinol and bayogenin.
Oral administration of the stem extract showed significant anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities in rats. Drypemolundein A is mainly responsible for these activities. Drypemolundein B was found to be inactive.
Dioecious shrub or small tree up to 6 m tall; branchlets deeply grooved, short-hairy. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules 5–10 mm long, persistent; blade elliptical-oblong to obovate-oblong, 11–27 cm × 4–9 cm, base cuneate to obtuse, apex long-acuminate, margins toothed. Inflorescence a dense fascicle, cauliflorous on the main stem. Flowers unisexual, regular, sweet-scented; sepals 5, ovate, 6–9 mm × 4–6 mm, short-hairy outside, greenish to yellowish or white; petals absent; male flowers with short pedicel, stamens 12–18; female flowers with a short pedicel, extending up to 2.5 cm in fruit, ovary superior, globose, white-hairy, styles 2, triangular, persistent. Fruit an ovoid to ellipsoid drupe, c. 3 cm × 2.5 cm, orange to red when ripe, 2-seeded. Seeds compressed ovoid, pale 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. Drypetes staudtii (Pax) Hutch. occurs in Nigeria and Cameroon. It is listed as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of threatened species. In Cameroon different plant parts are medicinally used in infusions and decoctions. The seeds were found to contain triterpenoids and flavonoids. One species from the Indian Ocean islands is medicinally used. The pulp made from the leafy branches of Drypetes madagascariensis (Lam.) Humbert & Leandri, endemic to Madagascar, is rubbed into scarifications to increase milk production. The fruits are eaten by children.
Drypetes molunduana occurs in the understorey of primary forest, from sea-level up to 1000 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
There are no signs that Drypetes molunduana is threatened by genetic erosion.
Drypetes molunduana merits further phytochemical and pharmacological research as the results so far have been promising.
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Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2008. Drypetes molunduana Pax & K.Hoffm. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.