Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Adansonia, Sér. 3, 25: 184 (2003).
Ehretia petiolaris Lam. (1785), Bourreria petiolaris (Lam.) Thulin (1987).
Bois de pipe, herbe cipaye (Fr). Mbunduki, mtundutundu, mpanda-yongoo (Sw).
Origin and geographic distribution
Hilsenbergia petiolaris is native to Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, the Mascarenes and Madagascar.
In Mauritius the leaves of Hilsenbergia petiolaris are used to treat skin infections and childhood eczema (‘tambave’). In Tanzania the wood is used for firewood, building poles, tool handles and other small objects.
The stems and leaves of Hilsenbergia petiolaris are reported to contain alkaloids, triterpenes, saponins and traces of flavonoids, but no results of analyses of the chemistry or pharmacology of the species, or of any other Hilsenbergia species, have been published.
Shrub or tree up to 7.5(–12) m tall, occasionally scandent; stems often hollow; bark smooth, grey-brown or grey, rough, fissured longitudinally. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules absent; petiole slender, up to 5 cm long; blade oblong-elliptical to obovate-elliptic, 1–14 cm × 0. 5–7.5 cm, base cuneate to rounded, apex rounded to acute, glabrous. Inflorescence a lax, pendulous, corymbose cyme, up to 15 cm long, many-flowered, axes pubescent. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, fragrant; pedicel up to 2 mm long; calyx 3.5 mm long, lobes valvate, narrowly triangular, up to 2 mm × 2 mm, glabrous to pubescent outside, pubescent inside; corolla campanulate, waxy white, tube 3–5 mm long, lobes broadly triangular or ovate, reflexed, 0.5–1.5 mm long, apex rounded; stamens inserted on corolla tube; ovary superior, 4-celled, style 2.5 mm long, with bifid stigma. Fruit a globose drupe c. 6 mm in diameter, orange-yellow to red, with 4 ridged and winged pyrenes.
Hilsenbergia species have formerly been placed in the genera Ehretia and Bourreria. Bourreria now comprises only a number of Neotropical species. Ehretia is pantropical and differs from Hilsenbergia in having smooth to slightly ridged pyrenes and imbricate calyx lobes.
Hilsenbergia comprises 18 species, 13 of which are endemic to Madagascar. Hilsenbergia nemoralis (Gürke) J.S.Miller (synonyms: Ehretia nemoralis Gürke, Ehretia litoralis Gürke) closely resembles Hilsenbergia petiolaris but the underside of the leaves is pubescent to woolly in the former and glabrous in the latter. Hilsenbergia nemoralis is restricted to Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique and is found in the same coastal habitat as Hilsenbergia petiolaris, but also further inland and at higher altitudes. The Swahili names ‘mbunduki’ and ‘mtundutundu’ are used for both species and relate to the hollow stems. The roots of Hilsenbergia nemoralis are used in a decoction in Tanzania to cure stomach-ache.
Hilsenbergia lyciacea (Thulin) J.S.Mill. (synonym: Bourreria lyciacea Thulin) occurs in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Madagascar and can be distinguished by its distinctly branched style and flowers that are solitary or 2 together. In Madagascar it is used to treat diarrhoea and haemorrhaging.
Hilsenbergia petiolaris is found in dry coastal forest, littoral scrub vegetation and on coral cliffs, just above the high-tide mark and sand dunes, mainly up to 30 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Hilsenbergia petiolaris is fairly restricted in habitat requirements but there are no threats of genetic erosion.
It seems likely that Hilsenbergia petiolaris will remain of limited use only.
• Lovett, J.C., Ruffo, C.K. & Gereau, R.E., 2003. Field guide to the moist forest trees of Tanzania. [Internet] Centre for Ecology Law and Policy, Environment Department, University of York, York, United Kingdom. http://www.york.ac.uk/ res/celp/webpages/projects/ecology/ tree%20guide/guide.htm. Accessed March 2004.
• Miller, J.S., 2003. Classification of Boraginaceae subfam. Ehretioideae: Resurrection of the genus Hilsenbergia Tausch ex Meisn. Adansonia 25(2): 151–189.
• Thulin, M., 1987. Bourreria (Boraginaceae) in tropical Africa. Nordic Journal of Botany 7(4): 413–417.
• Beentje, H.J., 1994. Kenya trees, shrubs and lianas. National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya. 722 pp.
• Gurib-Fakim, A. & Brendler, T., 2004. Medicinal and aromatic plants of Indian Ocean Islands: Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles and Mascarenes. Medpharm, Stuttgart, Germany. 568 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Verdcourt, B., 1991. Boraginaceae. In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 125 pp.
Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2006. Hilsenbergia petiolaris (Lam.) J.S.Mill. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.