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Euphorbia granulata Forssk.

Protologue
Fl. aegypt.-arab.: 94 (1775).
Family
Euphorbiaceae
Chromosome number
2n = 22
Origin and geographic distribution
Euphorbia granulata occurs in northern and eastern Africa east to central Asia and India. In tropical Africa it occurs in dry regions from Mauritania east to Somalia and south to Tanzania.
Uses
The nomadic Touareg people of the Sahara use the latex internally to expel intestinal worms, and externally apply it to snakebites and scorpion stings. In Saudi Arabia the latex is taken as a purgative, anthelmintic and diuretic, as well as for its blood purifying properties.
Properties
From petroleum and alcoholic extracts of the whole plant the following compounds were isolated: hentriacontane, dotriacontanol, lupeol acetate, taraxasterol acetate, lupeol, taraxasterol, sitosterol and gallic acid.
A methanol extract of the leaves showed considerable inhibitory effects against HIV-1 protease. A water extract of the leaves showed considerable inhibitory effects against hepatitis C virus protease.
An aqueous extract of Euphorbia granulata significantly and invariably inhibited germination and radicle growth of a range of crop plants and weeds in a laboratory bioassay. Artificially decomposed Euphorbia granulata litter in a nutrient medium significantly reduced germination and fresh and dry weight gain of the same test species. The toxins affected germination and growth independently and it is therefore suggested that its litter must be removed from the fields during weeding.
Botany
Monoecious, prostrate, annual herb with branches up to 15 cm long; whole plant short-hairy or sparsely hairy. Leaves opposite, simple; stipules up to 1.5 mm long, deeply 2– 4-fid; petiole up to 1 mm long; blade obovate to oblong-ovate, up to 8 mm × 4.5 mm, base obliquely rounded to cordate, apex rounded, margins entire or toothed. Inflorescence a terminal or pseudo-axillary cluster of flowers, called a ‘cyathium’, on short leafy shoots; cyathia almost sessile, c. 1 mm × 1 mm, with a cup-shaped involucre, lobes triangular, minute, margin hairy; glands 4, minute, transversely elliptical, with very small appendages, pink or white, each involucre containing 1 female flower surrounded by many male flowers. Flowers unisexual; male flowers sessile, bracteoles linear, perianth absent, stamen c. 1 mm long; female flowers with pedicel c. 1.5 mm long, reflexed in fruit, perianth a rim, ovary superior, glabrous, 3-celled, styles 3, minute, 2-fid. Fruit an acutely 3-lobed capsule c. 1.5 mm × 1.5 mm, 3-seeded. Seeds oblong-conical, c. 1 mm × 0.5 mm, acutely 4-angled, transversely wrinkled, pinkish brown, without caruncle.
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. Euphorbia granulata belongs to subgenus Chamaesyce section Chamaesyce, a group of annual or sometimes perennial herbs with obvious stipules, further characterized by a main stem aborting at the seedling stage, the plant thus consisting of an expanded dichotomously branching umbel-like inflorescence, with the floral bracts appearing as normal leaves, cyathia solitary or up to 5 grouped together in congested leafy cymes, 4 involucral glands with petal-like appendages or entire and conical seeds without a caruncle. In Euphorbia granulata 3 varieties are distinguished, based mainly on the hairiness of the plants.
Euphorbia scordiifolia Jacq. also belongs to subgenus Chamaesyce, and occurs from West Africa and northern Africa east to Ethiopia and also in the Arabic Peninsula. In Senegal the aerial parts enter in a mixture with other plants used as a bath to treat mental illness. In Nigeria the latex is applied as an analgesic to aching teeth and tsetse fly bites. A plant decoction is applied to breasts as a galactagogue. In Nigeria and Ethiopia the latex is taken to treat dysentery. In Saudi Arabia an extract of the aerial parts is taken to treat fever and constipation. In West Africa cattle, sheep and goats browse the plants, although they have also been reported as poisonous.
Ecology
Euphorbia granulata occurs in exposed sandy, gritty to stony soils, often on lava, from sea-level up to 1000 m altitude. It is also a weed in agricultural land.
Management
Euphorbia granulata is a host of the nematodes Meloidogyne incognita and Meloidogyne javanica.
Genetic resources and breeding
Euphorbia granulata is a common weedy plant throughout its area of distribution and is therefore not threatened by genetic erosion.
Prospects
Several extracts of the leaves of Euphorbia granulata show interesting inhibitory effects against HIV-1 protease, and hepatitis C virus protease and more research concerning its chemistry and pharmacology is needed to evaluate its potential.
Major references
• Atiqur Rahman, M., Mossa, J.S., Al-Said, M.S. & Al-Yahya, M.A., 2004. Medicinal plant diversity in the flora of Saudi Arabia 1: a report on seven plant families. Fitoterapia 75: 149–161.
• Carter, S. & Radcliffe-Smith, A., 1988. Euphorbiaceae (part 2). In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. pp. 409–597.
• Hammiche, V. & Maiza, K., 2006. Traditional medicine in Central Sahara: pharmacopoeia of Tassili N’ajjer. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 105: 358–367.
• Hussein, G., Miyashiro, H., Nakamura, N., Hattori, M., Kakiuchi, N. & Shimotohno, K., 2000. Inhibitory effects of Sudanese medicinal plant extracts on hepatitis C virus (HCV) protease. Phytotherapy Research 14: 510–516.
• Hussein, G., Miyashiro, H., Nakamura, N., Hattori, M., Kawahata, T., Otake, T., Kakiuchi, N. & Shimotohno, K., 1999. Inhibitory effects of Sudanese plant extracts on HIV-1 replication and HIV-1 protease. Phytotherapy Research 13(1): 31–36.
Other references
• Ahmad, V.U., 1986. Chemical constituents of Euphorbia granulata. Fitoterapia 57(4): 280.
• Asres, K., Seyoum, A., Veeresham, C., Bucar, F. & Gibbons, S., 2005. Naturally derived anti-HIV agents - review article. Phytotherapy Research 19: 557–581.
• 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.
• Hussain, F., 1980. Allelopathic effects of Pakistani weeds: Euphorbia granulata Forssk. Oecologia 45(2): 267–269.
• Jansen, P.C.M., 1981. Spices, condiments and medicinal plants in Ethiopia, their taxonomy and agricultural significance. Agricultural Research Reports 906. Centre for Agricultural Publishing and Documentation, Wageningen, Netherlands. 327 pp.
• Mani, A. & Al Hinai, M., 1996. Host range and distribution of Meloidogyne incognita and M. javanica in the Sultanate of Oman. Nematropica 26(1): 73–79.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 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
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 granulata Forssk. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
plant habit
obtained from
Sahara Nature


plant habit
obtained from
Sahara Nature


inflorescence
obtained from
Sahara Nature