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Margaritaria anomala (Baill.) Fosberg

Protologue
Kew Bull. 33(2): 185 (1978).
Family
Euphorbiaceae (APG: Phyllanthaceae)
Chromosome number
2n = 26
Synonyms
Phyllanthus erythroxyloides Müll.Arg (1866).
Vernacular names
Bois chenille (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Margaritaria anomala occurs in Comoros, Madagascar, Aldabra (Seychelles) and Mauritius.
Uses
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.
Botany
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.
Ecology
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.
Prospects
Margaritaria anomala will probably remain of local importance only, unless pharmacological tests can prove the stimulant activities of the roots.
Major references
• 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.
Other references
• 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.
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., 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.