Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Kew Bull. 33(2): 185 (1978).
Euphorbiaceae (APG: Phyllanthaceae)
2n = 26
Phyllanthus erythroxyloides Müll.Arg (1866).
Bois chenille (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Margaritaria anomala occurs in Comoros, Madagascar, Aldabra (Seychelles) and Mauritius.
In Madagascar a bitter root decoction is considered the best medicine to treat impotence. It is also taken to treat chronic constipation.
The fruits are edible. The wood is hard and used to make tool handles and peddles. The twigs are used to make baskets.
Dioecious, deciduous glabrous shrub or small tree up to 6 m tall; bark scaly or detaching in strips, brown. Leaves alternate to whorled at the end of branches, simple and entire; stipules oblong-lanceolate, 2.5–5 mm long, brown, soon falling; petiole up to 6(–10) mm long; blade elliptical to obovate or spoon-shaped, (2–)3–6(–10) cm × 1.5–4(–6) cm, base cuneate, apex rounded to emarginate, with distant shallow glandular teeth in upper part, glabrous or short-hairy. Male inflorescence an axillary cluster, few-flowered; female flowers solitary or sometimes paired at the end of young branches. Flowers unisexual, petals absent; male flowers with pedicel 3–6 mm long, sepals 4, ovate, rounded, 2 outer ones 1–2 mm long, 2 inner ones 1.5–2.5 mm long, greenish, stamens 4, c. 1.5 mm long, free, disk annular; female flowers with pedicel 5–15(–20) mm long, sepals 4, ovate to oblong, 1.5–2.5 mm long, yellowish green, disk annular, 1–2 mm in diameter, ovary superior, ovoid, 2(–3)-celled, styles 3, free or fused at base, up to 1.5 mm long, stigma 2-fid, branches drooping. Fruit an almost globose or laterally compressed capsule or drupe 6–8 mm in diameter, indehiscent or irregularly dehiscent, smooth, blue-greenish, up to 4-seeded. Seeds plano-convex to trigonous-lens-shaped, 3.5–5.5 mm long, fleshy, bluish.
Margaritaria consists of 13–14 species, and is pantropical. It was formerly included in Phyllanthus and discussion continues as to whether it is distinct or not. Another Margaritaria species is also used medicinally in Madagascar. A root decoction of Margaritaria decaryana (Leandri) G.L.Webster (synonym: Phyllanthus decaryanus Leandri) is drunk as a stimulant and aphrodisiac, and to treat impotence and senility.
Margaritaria anomala occurs in bushland and deciduous forest, from sea-level up to 1000 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Margaritaria anomala is probably not common in its distribution area. It is rare and endangered in Mauritius, and a multiplication program has started there.
Margaritaria anomala will probably remain of local importance only, unless pharmacological tests can prove the stimulant activities of the roots.
• 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.
• Webster, G.L., 1979. A revision of Margaritaria (Euphorbiaceae). Journal of the Arnold Arboretum 60: 403–444.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Schatz, G.E., 2001. Generic tree flora of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 477 pp.
Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2008. Margaritaria anomala (Baill.) Fosberg. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.