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Pervillaea venenata (Baill.) Klack.

Phytologia 78(3): 191 (1995).
Asclepiadaceae (APG: Apocynaceae)
Menabea venenata Baill. (1890).
Origin and geographic distribution
Pervillaea venenata is endemic to the drier parts of West Madagascar.
In Madagascar the grated roots are sometimes used as a purgative and emetic, to treat stomach-ache, venereal diseases, liver problems and childhood eczema. However, because of its toxicity, a root decoction has also been used for trial by ordeal, criminal and suicide poisoning.
The roots contain highly toxic glycosides, with digitoxigenin or uzarigenin (menabegenin, 17-α-digitoxigenin) as their steroid moiety.
Small shrub up to 1.5 m tall, all parts with latex, all parts densely hairy. Leaves opposite, simple and entire; petiole 3–10 mm long; blade narrowly to broadly elliptical or oblong, 1.5–4.5 cm × 1–2 cm, base truncate to slightly cordate, apex apiculate or truncate, veins below raised. Inflorescence an axillary, condensed cyme, many-flowered; peduncle up to 15 mm long; bracts 3–5 mm long. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous; pedicel up to 2 mm long; sepals narrowly oblong, 1.5–3.7 mm × c. 1 mm, rounded, densely hairy; corolla tube 1.5–2.5(–3.8) mm long, short-hairy on inside, lobes oblong, 4–11 mm × 1–2.5 mm, rounded, pale yellow to yellow with reddish to purple spots inside; corona lobes attached at top of staminal column, straight, tapering towards apex, same length as connectives, staminal column 1.5–2.5 mm long; ovary superior, carpels 2, free, stigma head rounded. Fruit a pair of follicles, each follicle narrowly ovoid, 6–10 cm × 0.5–0.8 cm, tapering gradually into a long beak, apex slightly cleft, densely covered with curly hairs, many-seeded. Seeds ovate, flattened, c. 7 mm long, coma c. 3 cm long.
Pervillaea is endemic to Madagascar and comprises 5 species. It belongs to subfamily Secamonoideae. Pervillea, an orthographic variation, is used in the revision of the genus, but is not followed here.
Pervillaea venenata occurs in sandy or rocky soil and on cliffs, in grassland or deciduous forest, from sea-level up to 1000 m altitude. It has been found flowering from July–November, January and May.
Genetic resources and breeding
Pervillaea venenata is relatively widespread in Madagascar and probably not in danger of genetic erosion.
It is not advised to use Pervillaea venenata for medicinal purposes, as it is very toxic. More research concerning its chemistry and pharmacology needs to be done in order to evaluate the possible development of lead compounds for the pharmaceutical industry.
Major references
• Boiteau, P., Boiteau, M. & Allorge-Boiteau, L., 1999. Dictionnaire des noms malgaches de végétaux. 4 Volumes + Index des noms scientifiques avec leurs équivalents malgaches. Editions Alzieu, Grenoble, France.
• Gurib-Fakim, A. & Brendler, T., 2004. Medicinal and aromatic plants of Indian Ocean Islands: Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles and Mascarenes. Medpharm, Stuttgart, Germany. 568 pp.
• Klackenberg, J., 1995. Malagasy Asclepiadaceae: reinstatement of the genus Pervillea and two new combinations. Phytologia 78(3): 189–191.
• Klackenberg, J., 1996. Revision of the Malagasy genus Pervillea (Asclepiadaceae) and its phylogenetic relationship to Calypthrantha. Nordic Journal of Botany 16(2): 165–184.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
Other references
• Andriananja, M.O., 1982. Contribution à l’étude des deux variétés cardiotoniques de Thanghin à Madagascar: Thanghina venenifera (Apocynaceae) et Menabea venenata (Asclepiadaceae). Bulletin de l’Academie Malgache 60(1–2): 107–110.
• Omlor, R., 1996. Do Menabea venenata and Secamonopsis madagascariensis represent missing links between Periplocaceae, Secamonoideae and Marsdenieae (Asclepiadaceae)? Kew Bulletin 51(4): 695–715.
• Ramahandrimanana, J.C., 1986. Inventaire des plantes actives sur le système cardio-vasculaire et tests préliminaires de quelques plantes hypotensives. Mémoire de CAPEN, Ecole National Supérieur, Département Formation Initiale Scientifique, Centre d'étude et de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Université d'Antananarivo, Madagascar. 77 p.
G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

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
Photo editor
G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2011. Pervillaea venenata (Baill.) Klack. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 2. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Distribution Map wild

Pervillaea venenata