Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Linnaea 32: 95 (1863).
2n = 34, 68
Sebastiania chamaelea (L.) Müll.Arg. (1866).
Creeping sebastiania (En).
Origin and geographic distribution
Microstachys chamaelea occurs from Ghana east to the Central African Republic. It also occurs in tropical Asia and Australia.
In Benin a decoction of the leafy stems is used as a bath to relieve teething pain in babies. In India such a decoction taken with butter is considered a tonic, and is applied to the head as a treatment for vertigo. The plant sap is astringent and taken to treat syphilis and diarrhoea.
Monoecious, erect to sprawling annual to perennial herb or shrub up to 0.5(–1) m tall with slender stems. Leaves alternate, simple, almost sessile; stipules ovate, small; blade linear-lanceolate, 3–6 cm × c. 8 mm, base cuneate, apex obtuse, margins finely toothed, short-hairy beneath. Inflorescence a small, terminal or leaf-opposed spike, most flowers male with 1–2 female flowers at base; bracts with 2 large glands at base. Flowers unisexual, regular, sessile, sepals 3, ovate, greenish yellow, petals absent, disk absent; male flowers with 3 free, shortly exserted stamens; female flowers with superior ovary, glabrous, 3-celled, styles 3, free. Fruit a 3-lobed capsule c. 6 mm long, with 2 lines of stiff hairs on each lobe, 3-seeded. Seeds ellipsoid-oblong, c. 4 mm long, smooth, blackish or grey.
Microstachys comprises about 15 species and occurs in the tropics and subtropics, mainly in South America; 4 species occur in tropical Africa. Microstachys was formerly included in Sebastiania, which now comprises about 75 species in the New World tropics. The African specimens of Microstachys chamaelea are rather uniform and have larger leaves, fruits and seeds than the Asian and Australian specimens.
Microstachys chamaelea occurs in gallery forest, savanna and fallow land, often on sandy soils, at low altitudes.
Genetic resources and breeding
Microstachys chamaelea is widespread and occurs in anthropogenic habitats. It is therefore not likely to be threatened by genetic erosion.
Microstachys chamaelea has only few uses and nothing is known about its properties. It will therefore probably remain of local importance only.
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Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2007. Microstachys chamaelea (L.) Müll.Arg. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.