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Euphorbia antso Denis

Protologue
Euphorb. Iles Austr. Afr.: 45 (1921).
Family
Euphorbiaceae
Origin and geographic distribution
Euphorbia antso is endemic to southern Madagascar.
Uses
The latex is toxic and caustic. It is applied to the skin to treat scabies and is used to poison rodents. The latex is also used in religious ceremonies.
In the past the dried stem was used to start fire by friction. Euphorbia antso is sometimes sold on the internet as it has some ornamental value.
Properties
The wood is soft and perishable.
Botany
Monoecious, deciduous, glabrous, strongly branched shrub or small tree up to 15 m tall; bark pale greyish brown; copious latex in all parts. Leaves arranged spirally, crowded towards the stem apex, simple and entire, almost sessile; stipules absent; blade lanceolate, up to 9 cm × 1.5 cm, base cuneate, apex acute, midvein prominent, lateral veins not prominent. Inflorescence a terminal 3–5-rayed false umbel, consisting of a central, almost sessile, gland-bearing cluster, called a ‘cyathium’, c. 1 cm in diameter, enclosed in a funnel-shaped involucre, and containing 1 female and many male flowers; basal bracts 5–8, leafy, pale green, upper bracts deltoid, c. 2 cm long, yellowish; nectar-producing glands 2–5, tubular, yellowish green or red. Flowers unisexual; male flowers consisting of a single stamen; female flowers with superior ovary, purple, 3-celled, style long. Fruit a round to lobed capsule, 2–4 cm in diameter, covered with fleshy spines, 3-seeded. Seed globose, 1 cm in diameter.
Euphorbia comprises about 2000 species and has a worldwide distribution, with at least 750 species occurring in continental Africa and about 150 species in Madagascar and the Indian Ocean islands. Most species present in Madagascar are endemic to the island.
Several other endemic, non-succulent, shrub-like Euphorbia species have medicinal uses in Madagascar. Root decoctions of Euphorbia boivinii Boiss., Euphorbia erythroxyloides Baker and Euphorbia tetraptera Baker (synonym: Euphorbia bakeriana Baill.) are used to treat stomach-ache and lumbago. A root decoction of Euphorbia erythroxyloides is drunk to treat kidney problems and increase urine production. Its root sap is drunk as a purgative. This species is endangered and occurs on the IUCN Red List. The latex of Euphorbia boivinii is used to poison rats. The latex of Euphorbia pervilleana Baill. is applied to warts. The spineless shrub Euphorbia pyrifolia Lam. (‘tanghin rouge’) is endemic to the Seychelles, Réunion and Mauritius. In Mauritius a decoction of the aerial parts is taken to treat tetanus.
Ecology
Euphorbia antso occurs in deciduous forest and thickets, from sea-level up to 500 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Euphorbia antso is relatively common in its area of distribution, although it is becoming less common in the coastal region due to habitat destruction. There are no signs of genetic erosion.
Prospects
Euphorbia antso will probably remain of local importance as a medicinal plant.
Major references
• Boiteau, P., Boiteau, M. & Allorge-Boiteau, L., 1999. Dictionnaire des noms malgaches de végétaux. 4 Volumes + Index des noms scientifiques avec leurs équivalents malgaches. Editions Alzieu, Grenoble, France.
• Eggli, U. (Editor), 2002. Illustrated handbook of succulent plants: Dicotyledons. Springer, Berlin, Germany. 554 pp.
• Razafiarison, C., 1993. Aperçu sur les plantes médicinales dans le sud de Madagascar : étude faite sur les enfants dans le périmètre de la réserve spéciale de Beza - Mahafaly. Thèse pour l’obtention du grade de Docteur en Médecine, Etablissement d’Enseignement Supérieur des Sciences de la Santé, Faculté de Médecine, Université d’Antananarivo, Madagascar. 93 pp.
• Stiles, D., 1998. The Mikea hunter-gatherers of southwest Madagascar: ecology and socioeconomics. African Study Monographs 19(3): 127–148.
Other references
• Cremers, G., 1977. Architecture végétative de quelques espèces malgaches du genre Euphorbia L. Bulletin du Jardin Botanique National de Belgique 47: 55–81.
• Debray, M., Jacquemin, H. & Razafindrambao, R., 1971. Contribution à l’inventaire des plantes médicinales de Madagascar. Travaux et Documents No 8. ORSTOM, Paris, France. 150 pp.
• Gurib-Fakim, A., Guého, J. & Bissoondoyal, M.D., 1996. Plantes médicinales de Maurice, tome 2. Editions de l’Océan Indien, Rose-Hill, Mauritius. 532 pp.
• Haevermans, T. & Labat, J.-N., 2004. A synoptic revision of the Malagasy endemic Euphorbia pervilleana group. Systematic Botany 29(1): 118–124.
• Rakotondravony, D. & Volaharisolo, F., 2000. L’utilisation des produits naturels en protection des végétaux à Madagascar: test de plantes toxiques et de produits d’ingestion à actions toxiques rodenticides. Symposium national, 29 Juin–3 juillet 1998, Antananarivo, Madagascar. pp. 43–52.
• Ravelombola, J.L.S., 2004. Etude phytosociologique de la forêt des sept lacs (à Ambohimahavelona) et contribution au projet d’écotourisme. Mémoire de diplôme d’étude Approfondie (DEA) en biodiversité et Environnement, Département Biologie et Ecologie Végétales, Faculté des Sciences, Université de Maninday, Toliara, Madagascar. 84 pp.
• Steinmann, V.W. & Porter, J.M., 2002. Phylogenetic relationships in Euphorbieae (Euphorbiaceae) based on its and ndhF sequence data. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 89(4): 453–490.
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
Photo editor
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2008. Euphorbia antso Denis. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
fruiting plant