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Kirkia tenuifolia Engl.

Protologue
Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 32: 123 (1902).
Family
Simaroubaceae (APG: Kirkiaceae)
Origin and geographic distribution
Kirkia tenuifolia is distributed in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.
Uses
In Somalia a bark decoction of Kirkia tenuifolia is drunk to cure cholera. In Kenya the bark is chewed against thirst.
Properties
No studies on the properties of Kirkia tenuifolia have been published. Quassinoids and indole alkaloids, characteristic of the Simaroubaceae, are probably responsible for the medicinal properties. An aqueous stem bark extract showed significant inhibition of cholera toxin-induced intestinal hypersecretion in mice.
Botany
Semi-deciduous, monoecious shrub or small tree up to 8 m tall; bark grey, fissured with age; crown bushy, spreading; branches almost at right angles to main stem. Leaves alternate, clustered at ends of branches, up to 9 cm long, imparipinnately compound with (2–)3(–4) pairs of leaflets; stipules absent; petiole and rachis hairy; petiolules short or absent but on terminal leaflet 5–10 mm long; leaflets alternate, opposite at top of leaf, narrowly elliptical to orbicular, 1–2.5 cm Χ 1–2 cm, base rounded to cuneate, apex rounded to notched, margin usually entire, glabrous or hairy. Inflorescence an axillary thyrse up to 6.5 cm long, hairy or glabrous. Flowers unisexual, regular, 4-merous; sepals almost free, deltoid, c. 1.5 mm Χ 1.5 mm, short-hairy outside; petals free, lanceolate, 3–5 mm Χ 0.5–1 mm, glabrous or short-hairy outside, greenish yellow to cream; stamens free, in female flowers reduced; ovary superior, 4-celled, reduced in male flowers. Fruit an ellipsoid to shortly cylindrical berry 10–12 mm Χ 6–8 mm, 4-angled, woody, short-hairy to glabrous, separating into 1-seeded mericarps, each attached by a strip of tissue to top of central column. Seeds almost as large as mericarp, rounded at one end and pointed at the other, 3-angled.
Kirkia comprises 5 species, distributed in tropical Africa from Ethiopia and Somalia to northern South Africa.
Ecology
Kirkia tenuifolia occurs in Acacia - Commiphora bushland at 100–1000 m altitude. It is usually found on red sandy to stony soil and on limestone. In Somalia it is not a common species and is not associated with specific soil requirements.
Management
Kirkia tenuifolia is easily propagated using seed or stem parts.
Genetic resources and breeding
Although Kirkia tenuifolia is not widely distributed and not common, it is unlikely to be threatened by genetic erosion.
Prospects
Kirkia tenuifolia will probably remain of local importance as a medicinal plant, unless pharmacological research shows interesting opportunities for drug development. Monitoring the populations is useful to detect threats.
Major references
• Beentje, H.J., 1994. Kenya trees, shrubs and lianas. National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya. 722 pp.
• Samuelsson, G., Farah, M.H., Claeson, P., Hagos, M., Thulin, M., Hedberg, O., Warfa, A.M., Hassan, A.O., Elmi, A.H., Abdurahman, A.D., Elmi, A.S., Abdi, Y.A. & Alin, M.H., 1993. Inventory of plants used in traditional medicine in Somalia. 4. Plants of the families Passifloraceae to Zygophyllaceae. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 38: 1–29.
• Stannard, B.L., 1981. A revision of Kirkia (Simaroubaceae). Kew Bulletin 35: 829–839.
• Thulin, M., 1999. Kirkiaceae. In: Thulin, M. (Editor). Flora of Somalia. Volume 2. Angiospermae (Tiliaceae-Apiaceae). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. pp. 182–183.
Other references
• Claeson, P. & Samuelsson, G., 1989. Screening of some Somalian medicinal plants for antidiarrhoeal effects in mice. Phytotherapy Research 3(5): 180–183.
• Gemedo-Dalle, T., Maass, B.L. & Isselstein, J., 2005. Plant biodiversity and ethnobotany of Borana pastoralists in southern Oromia, Ethiopia. Economic Botany 59(1): 43–65.
• Stannard, B.L., 2000. Simaroubaceae. In: Beentje, H.J. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 15 pp.
• Wieland, R.G. & Werger, M.J.A., 1985. Land types and vegetation in the Luuq District of south-western Somalia. Journal of Tropical Ecology 1(1): 65–87.
Author(s)
• C.H. Bosch
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, Rιduit, 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:
Bosch, C.H., 2008. Kirkia tenuifolia Engl. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes mιdicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.