Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes m้dicinales 2
Result. Sci. Miss. Stefan.- Paoli Somal. Ital. 1: 115 (1916).
Asclepiadaceae (APG: Apocynaceae)
2n = 24
Pergularia extensa (R.Br.) N.E.Br. (1908).
Origin and geographic distribution
Pergularia daemia is widely distributed in tropical Africa and South Africa, extending to Arabia and further east to India and Sri Lanka. It is also cultivated as an ornamental in the tropics.
Numerous medicinal uses have been reported for all parts of the plant throughout its distribution area. The crushed leaves, or sometimes the crushed young fruits, are applied externally to boils, abscesses, subcutaneous worm infections and eczema. Leafy twig infusions and decoctions are widely used as an aperitive, anthelmintic, expectorant, emetic, emmenagogue and to treat fainting, diarrhoea, dysentery, colic, rheumatism, painful joints and limbs, cramps in the legs, malaria, appendicitis, amenorrhoea, venereal diseases and tachycardia arising from overexertion or fright. The latex is applied to sore eyes and aching teeth, as a liniment to treat rheumatism, asthma and oedema, and to combat abscesses and snakebites and remove thorns from the skin. In Ghana crushed leaves with Capsicum peppers are given as an enema to treat tetanus. An enema of a leaf infusion is given to facilitate child-birth, as it stimulates muscle contraction and also arterial blood pressure.
The roots are mainly used in East and southern Africa. An infusion of the roots is taken against stomach-ache, colic and cough, and as an abortifacient. The roots may also simply be chewed to treat cough. A root decoction is taken to treat venereal diseases, arthritis, muscular pain, asthma and rheumatism. In Namibia the Topnaar people make incisions in the back and apply ground root to treat backache. Powder from roasted roots or leaves are applied to wounds.
In India Pergularia daemia is widely used as a medicinal plant as well, with largely similar uses as in Africa. An infusion of the aerial part is furthermore taken to treat liver problems.
In the Central African Republic a fishing and hunting poison is prepared from Pergularia daemia. In Namibia latex is added to water to poison animals.
In Ghana, Ethiopia, Namibia and Botswana, the young tender stems and leaves are eaten cooked, mixed with mashed yam or added as a condiment to soup. In northern Kenya and Ethiopia the tuberous roots and the fruits are eaten too. In Somalia the plant is reportedly grazed by all stock. The stems yield a strong fibre, which is used in many places for rope and fishing lines; the fibre is said to resist fire longer than other species. Several magical properties have been reported from Africa. Because of its sweet-scented flowers and its climbing habit, Pergularia daemia is cultivated as a pergola ornamental in tropical gardens.
Production and international trade
The roots and leafy twigs are mainly traded in local markets.
Pergularia daemia is highly toxic due to the presence of numerous cardenolides and cardenolide glycosides in all its parts (most in aerial parts); these have digitalis-like cardio-activity. In all, 14 of these compounds have been found, e.g. calactine and calotropine mainly in the seed, uzarigenin, uscharidin, coroglaucigenin and corotoxigenin mainly in the stem and wood. The roots contain low amounts of calactine, calotropine, uzarigenin and coroglaucigenin, as well as sucrose. In the case of calactine and calotropine the sugar-moiety is the double-bonded 4,6-dideoxyhexulose, which is extremely stable under acid hydrolysis and also highly poisonous. It occurs also in Asclepias, Calotropis and Gomphocarpus. Numerous other compounds have been isolated from different plant parts, e.g. triterpenes, sterols, resins, sugars and the alkaloid betaine, an active musculotropic polypeptide.
An aqueous ethanol extract of the whole plant was found to be toxic to mice, with an LD50 of 1000 mg/kg. At 50 mg/kg it produced hypotension in dogs. A dried leaf infusion killed a dog at a dose of 25 ml, and an alcohol extract was even more toxic. The polypeptide fraction of the aerial parts has a generalized musculotropic action. In doses of 12 mg/kg it caused an immediate and sustained rise of carotid blood pressure in anaesthetized cats and dogs, lasting about 10 minutes, and complex effects on the respiratory system and intestinal movements. The effect on the heart was generally cardiotoxic with marked depression of both auricles and ventricles, resulting in ventricular fibrillation and ultimate stoppage of the heart in diastole. The approximate lethal doses were 46 mg/kg in cat, dog, guinea-pig and rabbit, and 80 mg/kg in mice.
The glycosides had a strong action on uterus contraction. It had a spasmolytic effect against acetylcholin- and histamine-induced spasms in isolated guinea-pig ileum, and caused hypothermia in mice. The extract had no cytotoxic activity in 3 different cancer test systems. It was furthermore inactive against several test bacteria and fungi and had no antiviral or anthelmintic activity. In later tests however, different extracts of the aerial parts showed antibacterial activity at 10 mg/ml against Aeromonas hydrophila, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella typhi. A petroleum ether extract of the aerial parts showed acute toxic effects on larvae of Culex quinquefasciatus. A benzene extract however was not active. Also, a methanolic extract of the aerial parts showed significant activity against Herpes simplex virus, influenza virus, rhinovirus, poliovirus and several other viruses. A leaf extract showed moderate antioxidant activity in vitro.
The crude aqueous and ethanolic extracts from aerial parts were evaluated for hepatoprotective activity in rats by inducing liver damage by carbon tetrachloride. The ethanolic extract at an oral dose of 200 mg/kg exhibited a significant protective effect by lowering different blood serum levels. The extracts showed no signs of toxicity up to a dose level of 2000 mg/kg. An extract of aerial parts demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory, antipyretic and analgesic activities in rats and mice. The extract also inhibited the release of prostaglandins by rat leucocytes.
The suitability of Pergularia daemia leaves as source of mineral nutrients based on its mineral ratios for calcium, iron, potassium, and phosphorus was investigated. The Ca/Fe, Ca/K, Ca/Mg, and Ca/Zn ratios were 1.7, 0.3, 1.6, and 9.7, respectively. The Fe/Zn ratio was excessive at 5.6, the K/Na ratio was good at 12.8 and the P/Ca ratio was 0.3. The fresh leaves contained 5.6 mg/100 mg vitamin C.
Climbing herb, becoming slightly woody at base, with tuberous roots, stiffly short-hairy or sometimes glabrous, containing latex. Leaves opposite, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole (1)25(12) cm long, minutely short-hairy; blade broadly ovate to almost orbicular, 211 cm ื 1.511 cm, base deeply cordate, apex acuminate, short-hairy to glabrous, thin. Inflorescence an axillary raceme-like cyme; peduncle (2)411(20) cm long. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous; pedicel 1.54 cm long; calyx with narrowly ovate to oblong lobes up to 4 mm long, green-brown; corolla tube 26 mm long, lobes ovate to oblong or elliptical, 510(16) mm ื 1.55 mm, apex acute, inside bearded towards the margins, inside yellowish green, outside sometimes marked with pink or brown; outer corona membranous with ciliate lobes, inner corona lobes slender to stout, 2.57(9) mm long, the apical projection reaching to the top of the column, often further, basal tails spreading. Fruit a pair of follicles, each follicle narrowly ovoid to fusiform, 58 cm ื 12 cm, yellowish-purplish-green, with a long, curved beak, glabrous to densely short-hairy, with or without protuberances. Seeds ovoid, flattened, 47 mm ื 24 mm, brown with paler margin, densely short-hairy on 1 or 2 sides, at apex with coma of white hairs 34 cm long.
Other botanical information
Pergularia belongs to subtribe Asclepiadinae, together with Asclepias, Calotropis and Gomphocarpus and comprises 2 species. In Pergularia daemia 3 subspecies are recognized nowadays, of which subsp. daemia occurs widely in tropical Africa and Asia, subsp. barbata (Klotzsch) Goyder occurs in the Zambezi valley and subsp. garipensis (E.Mey.) Goyder occurs in Namibia. Pergularia tomentosa L. occurs widely in the northern deserts from Africa and into the Middle East.
Pergularia daemia occurs in dry bushland, savanna or forest margins, as well as near seasonal watercourses on shrubs in more arid localities, from sea-level up to 1200 m altitude.
Propagation and planting
Pergularia daemia can easily be grown from seed. In-vitro culture techniques have also been developed.
Pergularia daemia is a deep-rooted shrub traditionally preserved in fields in the semi-arid zones of Mali for its soil-improving properties. In a field test the grain weight, the head weight and the plant length of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R.Br.) showed significant increase in the vicinity of the shrub.
Diseases and pests
In India Pergularia daemia is sometimes attacked by Pergularia mosaic virus.
Plant parts of Pergularia daemia are harvested in the growing season.
Pergularia daemia is common and widespread and is not in danger of genetic erosion.
Because of its high toxicity, Pergularia daemia cannot be recommended as a vegetable. More research is needed to find out whether the toxic principles disappear after cooking the edible parts. The medicinal, ornamental and fibre values of the plant deserve more investigation.
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Sources of illustration
Ako่gninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (Editors), 2006. Flore analytique du B้nin. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. 1034 pp.
Correct citation of this article:
Jansen, P.C.M. & Schmelzer, G.H., 2010. Pergularia daemia (Forssk.) Chiov. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes m้dicinales 2. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
1, flowering branch; 2, fruits.
Source: Flore analytique du B้nin
obtained from Zimbabweflora
obtained from Zimbabweflora
obtained from Zimbabweflora
obtained from The Asclepiad Exhibition
obtained from Zimbabweflora
obtained from Zimbabweflora
obtained from Zimbabweflora