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Melicope madagascariensis (Baker) T.G.Hartley

Allertonia 8(1): 287 (2001).
Evodia madagascariensis Baker (1882).
Origin and geographic distribution
Melicope madagascariensis is endemic to Madagascar.
The crushed roots are applied to wounds to improve healing. An infusion of the stem bark is taken to treat measles. The bitter and aromatic stem bark is added to domestic preparations of rum called ‘betsabetsa’, ‘fatraina’ or ‘laro’ to increase intoxication, as an euphoretic and aphrodisiac. These beverages are usually made for circumcision and funeral rituals, but also for small-scale commercial production. From the leaves an aromatic essential oil is distilled, which is used in massages.
Production and international trade
The dried stem bark is sold in small quantities on the local market.
From the leaves various compounds have been isolated, including β-sitosterol, ternatin, several methoxyflavones such as diglucosides of limocitrin and isorhamnetin, and prodelphinidin. The essential oil from the leaves contains c. 15 components: limonene (50,1%) as major component, followed by γ-terpinene (8.8%), β-eudesmol (4.0%), β-ocimene (3.8%) and α-pinene (2.6%).
The cyclic peptide ternatin showed moderate antiviral activities against a range of DNA and RNA viruses, especially adenovirus.
Tree up to 10(–20) m tall; branches often 4-angled; young branches, petioles and leaf veins usually short-hairy. Leaves opposite, 1-foliolate; stipules absent; petiole 5–25 mm long, grooved beneath; leaflet oblong, 3–10.5 cm × 1.2–4 cm, apex rounded, base cuneate to rounded, margins entire, with numerous glandular dots of 2 sizes. Inflorescence a small, axillary panicle up to 5 cm long, in the upper leaf axils. Flowers bisexual, regular, 4-merous; pedicel 2–4 mm long; sepals ovate, apex rounded, c. 1 mm long; petals ovate, 3–4 mm × c. 2 mm, white, with finely appressed hairs inside; stamens longer than petals, filaments hairy at base, ovary superior, 4-celled, styles connected when young, free when older. Fruit a 1–2-lobed capsule, 6–8 mm long, lobes almost free, kidney-shaped, dehiscent almost entirely with 2 valves, each lobe 1-seeded. Seeds ovoid, 3.5–4 mm in diameter, black, shiny, acute on one side.
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 from Madagascar have similar uses as Melicope madagascariensis. The leaves and stem bark of Melicope belahe (Baill.) T.G.Hartley (synonym: Euodia belahe Baill.), Melicope bakeri T.G.Hartley (synonym: Euodia densiflora Baker) and Melicope sambiranensis (H.Perrier) T.G.Hartley (synonym: Euodia sambiranensis H.Perrier) are also added to alcoholic drinks as an euphoretic and aphrodisiac during circumcision rituals. The stem bark of Melicope belahe comprises the furoquinoline alkaloids dictamnine, evolitrine, kokusaginine, the coumarins marmosine and a hydroxycoumarine, and a cinnamamide derivative. An infusion of the fruits of Melicope densiflora is also taken to treat malarial fever.
Melicope madagascariensis occurs in rain forest, at 900–2000 m altitude. It flowers from November to January and fruits from March to June. The average 1000 seed weight is 12.9 g.
Genetic resources and breeding
Melicope madagascariensis was common in most of its distribution area in the past. Since the rainforest is increasingly under pressure, it is likely to be threatened by genetic erosion nowadays.
The aromatic alcoholic beverages made from the stem bark of Melicope madagascariensis and related species will probably remain popular. More chemical and pharmacological research is needed to identify the active compounds in the stem bark and to refine the results concerning the antiviral activity of the leaf extracts. A protocol for sustainable harvesting of the stem bark 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.
• Simoes, C.M.O., Amoros, M., Girre, L., Gleye, J. & Fauvel, M.T., 1990. Antiviral activity of ternatin and meliternatin, 3-methoxyflavones from species of Rutaceae. Journal of Natural Products 53(4): 989–992.
Other references
• Gleye, J., Moulis, C. & Doazan, M.N., 1983. Constituants chimiques d’Evodia madagascariensis. Plantes medicinales et phytotherapie 17(2): 92–95.
• Randriamialinoro, F., 2001. Contribution à l’étude chimique de l’huile essentielle des feuilles de Evodia madagascariensis Baker (Rutaceae), plante endémique de Madagascar: production d’échantillons commerciaux d’olearésine de Zingiber officinale Roscoe (Zinziberaceae). Mémoire de DEA de Chimie Organique, Option Produits Naturels, Faculté des Sciences, Université d’Antananarivo, Madagascar. 95 pp.
• Razafindrakoto, R.D., 1994. Contribution à l’étude de la fermentation alcoolique artisanale à Madagascar: étude de l’utilisation du “laro” Evodia madagascariensis Baker (Rutaceae). Mémoire de fin d’étude pour l’obtention du diplôme d’ingénieur agronome, Département Agriculture, ESSA, Industrie Agricole et Alimentaire, Université d’Antananarivo, Madagascar. 37 pp.
• Rondest, J., Das, B.C. & Polonsky, J., 1968. Sur un nouvel amide naturel, le N(p-hydroxy-phényl)-13 éthyl-p-hydroxy-cinnamamide, isolé de Evodia belahe Baker (Rutacée). Bulletin de la Société Chimique de France 2411–2414.
• Rondest, J., Das, S, B.C., Ricroch, M.N., Kan-Fan, C., Potier, P. & Polonsky, J., 1968. Malgach plants III. Study of the constituents of Evodia belahe, Rutaceae. Phytochemistry 7(6): 1019–1026.
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 madagascariensis (Baker) 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