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Mallotus subulatus Müll.Arg.

Protologue
Linnaea 34: 192 (1865).
Family
Euphorbiaceae
Origin and geographic distribution
Mallotus subulatus occurs from Sierra Leone east to Cameroon and south to DR Congo.
Uses
In Ghana an infusion of the roots together with the seeds of Aframomum melegueta K.Schum. is taken as an enema to treat lumbago. In Nigeria the roots, leaves and fruits are ground and taken in water to treat dysentery. Wet leaves are pulped and applied to wounds as a styptic. The ground seeds in water are taken to treat stomach-ache. In Gabon the head is massaged with the pulp or maceration of young leaves to treat headache and nervous break-down. In Congo the bark sap is rubbed onto local scarifications in case of pain in the side and lumbago.
In southern Nigeria the Igbo people apply the powdered seeds to the faces of young men and girls as a mask.
Properties
Preliminary tests revealed traces of alkaloids in the roots, and abundant saponins and little tannin in the stem bark and roots.
Botany
Dioecious shrub or small tree up to 5 m tall; twigs stellate hairy. Leaves opposite, simple and entire; stipules subulate, 6–8 mm long, persistent; petiole 1–5.5 cm long; blade oblong to ovate, 10–18 cm × 7.5–10 cm, base rounded, apex acute to acuminate, glabrous. Inflorescence an axillary raceme up to 5 cm long. Flowers unisexual, regular, petals absent, disk absent, pedicel short; male flowers in small fascicles, with obovoid calyx, 3–4-lobed, cream, stamens 40–50, free; female flowers solitary on inflorescence axis, with 3 recurved sepals, densely stellate hairy, cream, ovary superior, globose, 3-lobed, 3-celled, rough, stigmas 3, sessile, densely papillose, spreading. Fruit a 3-lobed capsule 12–16 mm in diameter, covered with slightly hooked bristles, 3-seeded. Seeds ovoid, c. 5 mm in diameter, smooth.
Mallotus comprises about 135 species, which all occur in the Old World tropics, mainly in Asia and Oceania. Only few species occur in tropical Africa: 2 in continental Africa and 4 in Madagascar, of which 3 are endemic.
Ecology
Mallotus subulatus occurs in evergreen lowland forest.
Genetic resources and breeding
Mallotus subulatus is at least locally common and does not seem under threat of genetic erosion.
Prospects
Unless chemical and pharmacological research shows interesting results, Mallotus subulatus will remain of local importance only as a medicinal plant.
Major references
• Brown, N.E., Hutchinson, J. & Prain, D., 1909–1913. Euphorbiaceae. In: Thiselton-Dyer, W.T. (Editor). Flora of tropical Africa. Volume 6(1). Lovell Reeve & Co., London, United Kingdom. pp. 441–1020.
• 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.
• Irvine, F.R., 1961. Woody plants of Ghana, with special reference to their uses. Oxford University Press, London, United Kingdom. 868 pp.
Other references
• 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.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Sillans, R., 1953. Plantes médicinales d’Afrique centrale. Annales pharmaceutiques françaises 11: 364–383, 456–473.
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. Mallotus subulatus Müll.Arg. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.