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Macaranga heterophylla (Müll.Arg.) Müll.Arg.

Protologue
A.DC., Prodr. 15(2.2): 993 (1866).
Family
Euphorbiaceae
Origin and geographic distribution
Macaranga heterophylla occurs from Senegal east to Cameroon.
Uses
Various parts of the plant are used as a purgative. In southern Senegal a root decoction is taken to treat amenorrhoea, and also as an abortifacient. In Sierra Leone a decoction of young leaves is taken to treat gonorrhoea. In Côte d’Ivoire a bark decoction is taken and used in a bath to treat cough. The plant is used to treat snakebites.
The ash from the burnt stem and branches is used as vegetable salt.
Botany
Dioecious shrub or small tree up to 10 m tall; twigs and stem covered with stout, woody spines; stem sap yellowish orange, gelatinous. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules lanceolate to ovate, 2.5–4 cm long, brown, appressed hairy; petiole 10–20 cm long; blade digitately 3–7-lobed, rarely not lobed, 13–32 cm in diameter, base rounded to shallowly cordate, apex long acuminate, margins toothed, glabrous above, sparingly short-hairy on the veins beneath. Male inflorescence an axillary, many-flowered panicle 15–30 cm long; female inflorescence an axillary, spike-like raceme or narrow, sparsely branched panicle up to 14 cm long. Flowers unisexual, petals absent, disk absent; male flowers almost sessile, calyx lobes 3, tiny, white, tinged pink, reddish hairy outside, stamens 3, free, minute; female flowers with pedicel up to 1 mm long, extending in fruit, calyx tiny, ovary superior, glandular, 2-celled, style 1, small. Fruit a rounded 2-lobed drupe 10–20 mm in diameter, pink to red, covered with small yellow glands, 2-seeded. Seeds almost globose, dull black.
Macaranga comprises about 280 species, of which about 30 are native to tropical continental Africa and about 15 to Madagascar and the Indian Ocean islands. Several other West-African Macaranga species are medicinally used in West Africa. In Côte d’Ivoire the crushed leaves of Macaranga beillei Prain, together with the crushed aerial parts of Scleria boivinii Steud. and vegetable salt, are wrapped in leaves of Thaumatococcus daniellii (Bennet) Benth., and the decoction is drunk to treat cough. In Sierra Leone an infusion of ground leaves of Macaranga heudelotii Baill. with lemon juice is drunk to treat gonorrhoea. In Ghana a leaf infusion is taken to treat diarrhoea.
Ecology
Macaranga heterophylla occurs in secondary forest in wet localities and riverine forest. It is a pioneer species in forest gaps.
Genetic resources and breeding
Macaranga heterophylla is not threatened by genetic erosion.
Prospects
Macaranga heterophylla will probably remain of local importance as a medicinal plant, unless research into the chemistry and pharmacology offers new possibilities.
Major references
• Berhaut, J., 1975. Flore illustrée du Sénégal. Dicotylédones. Volume 3. Connaracées à Euphorbiacées. Gouvernement du Sénégal, Ministère du Développement Rural et de l’Hydraulique, Direction des Eaux et Forêts, Dakar, Senegal. 634 pp.
• 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.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Stäuble, N., 1986. Etude ethnobotanique des Euphorbiacées d’Afrique de l’Ouest. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 16: 23–103.
Other references
• Adjanohoun, E.J. & Aké Assi, L., 1979. Contribution au recensement des plantes médicinales de Côte d’Ivoire. Centre National de Floristique, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. 358 pp.
• Keay, R.W.J., 1958. Euphorbiaceae. In: Keay, R.W.J. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 1, part 2. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 364–423.
• MacFoy, C.A. & Sama, A.M., 1983. Medicinal plants in Pujehun district of Sierra Leone. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 8: 215–223.
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., 2007. Macaranga heterophylla (Müll.Arg.) Müll.Arg. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.