Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Fl. aegypt.-arab.: 94 (1775).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
obtained from Sahara Nature
obtained from Sahara Nature
obtained from Sahara Nature