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Microstachys chamaelea (L.) Müll.Arg.

Protologue
Linnaea 32: 95 (1863).
Family
Euphorbiaceae
Chromosome number
2n = 34, 68
Synonyms
Sebastiania chamaelea (L.) Müll.Arg. (1866).
Vernacular names
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.
Uses
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.
Botany
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.
Ecology
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.
Prospects
Microstachys chamaelea has only few uses and nothing is known about its properties. It will therefore probably remain of local importance only.
Major references
• Adjanohoun, E.J., Adjakidjè, V., Ahyi, M.R.A., Aké Assi, L., Akoègninou, A., d’Almeida, J., Apovo, F., Boukef, K., Chadare, M., Cusset, G., Dramane, K., Eyme, J., Gassita, J.N., Gbaguidi, N., Goudote, E., Guinko, S., Houngnon, P., Lo, I., Keita, A., Kiniffo, H.V., Kone-Bamba, D., Musampa Nseyya, A., Saadou, M., Sodogandji, T., De Souza, S., Tchabi, A., Zinsou Dossa, C. & Zohoun, T., 1989. Contribution aux études ethnobotaniques et floristiques en République Populaire du Bénin. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 895 pp.
• Brown, N.E., Hutchinson, J. & Prain, D., 1909–1913. Euphorbiaceae. In: Thiselton-Dyer, W.T. (Editor). Flora of tropical Africa. Volume 6(1). Lovell Reeve & Co., London, United Kingdom. pp. 441–1020.
• Esser, H.-J., 1998. New combinations in Microstachys (Euphorbiaceae). Kew Bulletin 53: 955–960.
• van Welzen, P.C., 2003. Microstachys chamaelea (L.) Müll. Arg. In: Lemmens, R.H.M.J. & Bunyapraphatsara, N. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(3). Medicinal and poisonous plants 3. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. p. 301.
Other references
• Burkill, H.M., 1994. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 2, Families E–I. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 636 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., 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.