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Melicope fatraina (H.Perrier) T.G.Hartley

Allertonia 8(1): 287 (2001).
Euodia fatraina H.Perrier (1948).
Origin and geographic distribution
Melicope fatraina is endemic to eastern Madagascar.
A stem and root bark decoction is taken to treat malaria, while a maceration of the stem bark is taken to treat diabetes. The bitter and aromatic stem bark is added to domestic preparations of fermented beverages called ‘betsbetsa’, ‘fatraina’ or ‘belahy’ to increase intoxication, as an euphoretic and aphrodisiac. These beverages are made for circumcision and funeral rituals, but also for small-scale commercial production. An aromatic essential oil is extracted from the stem bark.
Production and international trade
The dried stem bark is sold in small quantities on the local market.
From the stem bark 2 indole alkaloids have been isolated: 2-myrtoidine and 1-malgashanine. Ethyl acetate and ethanolic extracts of the stem bark showed significant antimalarial activity against Plasmodium falciparum in vitro (IC50 = 8.5 μg/ml) and significant potency in vivo (65% suppression of parasitaemia) against Plasmodium bergei in mice respectively. Moreover, low toxicity against HeLa cells and L 929 fibroblasts was observed with the ethanolic extract, IC50 = 95 μg/ml and 60 μg/ml respectively. The alkaloid 3,7-dimethyl-quinoline, isolated from the root bark, also showed antiplasmodial activity against Plasmodium falciparum in vitro. It had a high toxicity, however, against HeLa cells and L 929 fibroblasts.
Tree up to 18(–25) m tall; trunk up to 50 cm in diameter; branches 4-angled, irregularly striped; young parts slightly short-hairy. Leaves opposite, 3-foliolate; stipules absent; petiole 1–4 cm long, slightly grooved beneath; petiolule of lateral leaflets 0–4 mm long, of median leaflet 4–8 mm long; leaflets obovate-oblong, 1.5–10.5 cm × 1.4–4.4 cm, lateral leaflets smaller, apex rounded or notched, base cuneate, margins entire, with numerous glandular dots visible on young leaves. Male inflorescence an axillary or terminal corymbiform cyme, shorter than the leaves, many-flowered; female inflorescence a dense, axillary panicle. Flowers unisexual, regular, 4-merous; pedicel 1–1.5 mm long; sepals ovate, tiny; petals oblong, 4–4.5 mm × 1.5–2 mm, brownish; stamens c. 5 mm long, filaments slightly hairy at base, ovary superior, 4-celled. Fruit composed of 3–4 capsules, c. 8 mm × c. 5 mm, kidney-shaped, gland-dotted, dehiscent almost entirely with 2 valves, 1-seeded. Seeds ovoid, c. 4 mm in diameter, black, shiny.
After a major revision, all Euodia species from Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands were transferred to Melicope. An orthographic variation of Euodia is Evodia. Melicope comprises c. 235 species occurring from the Malagasy and Indo-Himalayan regions to Hawaiian and Marquesas Islands and New Zealand. Of the 19 species that occur in the Indian Ocean islands, 11 species are endemic to Madagascar and 6 species are endemic to Réunion. Melicope chapelieri (Baill.) T.G.Hartley occurs both in Réunion and Madagascar and Melicope obtusifolia (DC.) T.G.Hartley occurs both in Réunion and Mauritius.
Several other Melicope species have similar uses as Melicope fatraina. The stem bark of Melicope balankazo (H.Perrier) T.G.Hartley (synonym: Euodia balankazo H.Perrier), Melicope chapelieri (Baill.) T.G.Hartley (synonym: Euodia chapelieri Baill.) and Melicope floribunda (Baker) T.G.Hartley (synonym: Euodia floribunda Baker) are also added to alcoholic beverages as an euphoretic and aphrodisiac.
The wood of Melicope floribunda is furthermore used for construction purposes. The stem bark yielded the following components: the clerodane diterpenes floribundic acid and floridiolic acid, floridolides A and B and hydroxylactone.
Melicope fatraina occurs in rainforest, at 800–1200 m altitude. It flowers from November to January.
Genetic resources and breeding
Because the rainforest area in which Melicope fatraina occurs is more and more declining and the stem bark is harvested in a non sustainable way, the species is likely to be threatened by genetic erosion.
Melicope fatraina shows interesting results in preliminary anti-malarial tests in vitro and in vivo and more research is warranted to evaluate its potential. The traditional use of the stem bark in local beverages will probably remain popular. A protocol for sustainable harvesting of the stem bark therefore needs to be established.
Major references
• Andrianavalonirina, M.A., 2002. Contribution à l’étude de l’huile essentielle des feuilles de Vepris sp. (Rutaceae), nouvelle espèce endémique de Madagascar. Mémoire en vue de l’obtention du CAPEN, Département Formation Initiale Scientifique, Centre d’étude et de recherche (CER) - Physique Chimie, Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS), Université d’Antananarivo, Antananarivo, Madagascar. 85 pp.
• Coode, M.J.E., 1979. Rutacées. In: Bosser, J., Cadet, T., Julien, H.R. & Marais, W. (Editors). Flore des Mascareignes. Familles 64–68. The Sugar Industry Research Institute, Mauritius, l’Office de la Recherche Scientifique Outre-Mer, Paris, France & Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 37 pp.
• Hartley, T.G., 2001. On the taxonomy and biogeography of Euodia and Melicope (Rutaceae). Allertonia 8(1): 1–328.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Ratsimamanga-Urverg, S., Rasoanaivo, P., Rakoto-Ratsimamanga, A., Le Bras, J., Ramiliariso, O., Savel, J. & Coulau, J.P., 1991. Antimalarial activity and cytotoxicity of Evodia fatraina stem bark extracts. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 33(3): 231–236.
Other references
• Billet, D., Durgeat, M., Heitz, S. & Ahond, A., 1975. Constituants d’Evodia floribunda Baker. I. L’acide floribundique, nouveau diterpene de type clerodane. Tetrahedron letters 44: 3825–3826.
• Billet, D., Durgeat, M., Heitz, S., Brouard, J.P. & Ahond, A., 1976. Constituants d’Evodia floribunda Baker. II. L’acide floridiolique, nouveau diterpene de type clerodane. Tetrahedron letters 32: 2773–2776.
• Faranirina, L., 2003. Etudes ethnobotaniques, biologiques et écologique des espèces utiles dans la forêt d’Antsahabe (Anjozorobe). Mémoire DEA. Option Ecologie végétale. Departement de Biologie et Ecologie Végétale.Université d'Antananarivo, Madagascar. 93 pp.
• Rafatro, H., 1992. Contribution à l’étude de l’activité cytotoxique in-vitro de la di-methyl 3,7-cluinoléine, alcaloïde d’Evodia fatraina (Myrtaceae) sur les cellules HeLA et L 929. Mémoire de DEA en pharmacologie, Faculté des sciences Université d’Antananarivo, Madagascar. 48 pp.
• Rajoelison, H.S., 2002. Etudes quantitatives de l’utilisation des produits ligneux dans le zones périphériques du Parc Natiuonal Andohahela (Cas d’Eminiminy et d’Enosiary). Mémoire de fin d’étude pour l’obtention du diplôme d’ingénieur agronome, Département, Eaux et Forêts, Université d’Antananarivo, Madagascar. 77 pp.
• Ramiliarisoa, O., LeBras, J., Ratsimamanga, S., Rasoanaivo, P. & Loiseau, A., 1988. Mise en évidence d’une activité antipaludéenne dans les extraits de cinq plantes appartenant à la flore malgache : in vitro par semi micro-test isotopique sur Plasmodium falciparum et in vivo sur Plasmodium Yoelii N67 chez souris Swiss. Bulletin de l’Académie Malgache 66(1–2): 136–142.
• Rasoanaivo, P., Petitjean, A., Ratsimamanga-Urverg, S. & Rakoto-Ratsimamanga, A., 1992. Medicinal plants used to treat malaria in Madagascar. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 37: 117–127.
• Ravelomanantsoa, N., Rasoanaivo, P. & Delmas, M., 1995. Furoquinoline from Evodia fatraina. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 23 (3): 339.
E.N. Matu
CTMDR/KEMRI, P.O. Box 54840–00200, Nairobi, Kenya

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
R. Arroo
Leicester School of Pharmacy, Natural Products Research, De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester LE1 9BH, United Kingdom

Correct citation of this article:
Matu, E.N., 2011. Melicope fatraina (H.Perrier) T.G.Hartley. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 2. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Distribution Map wild