Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
A.DC., Prodr. 13: 442 (1849).
Pisonia calpidia Steud. (1841).
Bois carotte, bois de joli cœur, bois mapou, mapou (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Pisonia lanceolata is endemic to Mauritius and Réunion.
A leaf poultice of Pisonia lanceolata mixed with salt and wrapped in the leaves of Ricinus communis L. or Terminalia catappa L. is used to treat poisonous fish bites. The leaves are also used in the treatment of syphilis, chronic gastro-enteritis and childhood eczema, or as an astringent and depurative. The young sprouts are eaten as a cooked vegetable and taste like cabbage.
The leaves and stems of Pisonia lanceolata contain alkaloids, phenols, tannins, coumarins, sterols, terpenes and traces of saponins.
Small tree up to 8 m tall, with thick and short bole. Leaves alternate, opposite, or in whorls at the top of the branchlets, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole 0.5–3 cm long; blade ovate, obovate to elliptical, sometimes almost circular, 5–18 cm × 2–8 cm, base cuneate to rounded, apex acute to obtuse, papery to leathery, lateral veins almost invisible. Inflorescence an axillary or terminal umbel-like panicle, 3–13 cm long, with reddish short hairs or almost glabrous, many-flowered; bracts absent or inconspicuous; peduncle 3–8 cm long. Flowers unisexual, regular, 5-merous, scented; pedicel short; perianth funnel-shaped, 6–8 mm long, lobes triangular to ovate, 2–3.5 mm long, curved at apex, with small, triangular lobes between the other lobes, pink; male flowers with 9–13 included stamens and rudimentary ovary; female flowers slightly smaller than male flowers, with superior, ovoid, 1-celled ovary, style included, stigma papillose and mushroom-shaped, staminodes c. 10, shorter than the style. Fruit an achene enclosed by the thickened lower part of perianth (anthocarp), anthocarp obconical, 4–6 cm long, 5-ribbed, with glandular hairs, 1-seeded. Seed oblong, with a deep longitudinal furrow.
Pisonia comprises about 35 species, of which about 20 occur in tropical America, 1 is pantropical (Pisonia aculeata L.), and the other species occur in the Old World tropics, from the Indian Ocean islands to South-East Asia and Oceania. Pisonia aculeata, occurring throughout tropical Africa, is listed officially in Mexico’s Pharmacopoeia and is used as medicinal plant in the Philippines, Thailand and India. In Africa, the only recorded medicinal use is in Côte d’Ivoire, where the juice from the leaves is used as drops against earache.
Pisonia lanceolata occurs in the remains of natural forest, in rocky localities, in the mountains or along rivers and lakes.
Genetic resources and breeding
The natural distribution of Pisonia lanceolata is restricted and it is considered vulnerable. In Mauritius in situ conservation is taking place in several national parks.
Because of the widespread medicinal use of several Pisonia species in Asia, more research into the chemical composition and pharmacological activities of the compounds of Pisonia lanceolata seems warranted.
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Correct citation of this article:
de Ruijter, A., 2007. Pisonia lanceolata (Poir.) Choisy. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.