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Euphorbia mainty (Poiss.) Denis ex Leandri

Protologue
Cat. Pl. Madag., Euphorb.: 16 (1935).
Family
Euphorbiaceae
Origin and geographic distribution
Euphorbia mainty is endemic to south-eastern Madagascar.
Uses
The latex is taken in water as a vermifuge, despite its toxicity. The use is well-known and people are careful about the quantities used.
The latex was formerly mixed with fibres from other plants to make wooden boats watertight; it was also made into varnish to make boats water resistant. The latex is mixed with latex from other plants to make a rubber. The plants are browsed by cattle. Euphorbia mainty is grown as a pot plant in Europe and the United States.
Botany
Monoecious, glabrous, much-branched shrub up to 8 m tall, most of the time leafless; branches slender, cylindrical, with compressed tips, green; stems with white latex. Leaves arranged spirally, simple and entire, almost sessile, on new growth only, soon deciduous; blade oblong, up to 15 mm × 3 mm, base cuneate, apex rounded. Inflorescence a cyme near the end of branches, hairy, consisting of clusters of flowers, each cluster called a ‘cyathium’; cyathium unisexual, c. 4 mm in diameter, developing only male flowers or a single female flower; nectar producing glands yellow. Flowers unisexual; male flowers consisting of a single stamen; female flowers with superior ovary, 3-celled. Fruit an almost globose capsule, c. 8 mm in diameter, on reflexed pedicel c. 1 mm long, 3-seeded. Seed ovoid, c. 3.5 mm × 2.5 mm.
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 Euphorbia spp. with small leaves and photosynthetic stems, endemic to Madagascar, are locally used. The steam of leafy twigs in boiling water of Euphorbia plagiantha Drake (synonym: Euphorbia fiha Decary) is inhaled to treat asthma. The thick latex is used as glue for wood and paper. The very corrosive latex of the crushed stems of Euphorbia enterophora Drake, Euphorbia decorsei Drake and Euphorbia plagiantha are all used as fish poison. The trunk of Euphorbia enterophora is covered with a wax, which was formerly harvested for polishing. Euphorbia enterophora is also planted as a pot plant and sold as such on the internet.
Ecology
Euphorbia mainty occurs in dry thickets and open forest, from sea-level up to 500 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
As Euphorbia mainty is common there are no threats to its genetic diversity. As a (semi-)succulent Euphorbia species, its trade is controlled under CITES appendix 2.
Prospects
Euphorbia mainty 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.
• 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.
• Eggli, U. (Editor), 2002. Illustrated handbook of succulent plants: Dicotyledons. Springer, Berlin, Germany. 554 pp.
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.
• Cremers, G., 1978. Etude de deux Euphorbes de Madagascar: Euphorbia enterophora Drake et E. stenoclada Baillon. Adansonia, série 2, 17(3): 343–357.
• 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

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