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Secamone volubilis (Lam.) Marais

Kew Bull. 40(1): 206 (1985).
Asclepiadaceae (APG: Apocynaceae)
Vernacular names
Liane d’olive, liane bois d’olive, ti bois d’olive, ti bram (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Secamone volubilis occurs in Réunion and possibly also in Mauritius.
In Réunion an infusion of the aerial parts of Secamone volubilis, together with parts of other plants, is used to wash children suffering from childhood eczema. When taken internally, it is used as a purgative. The leaf infusion makes a refreshing drink, which in turn helps to purify the blood, diminish fever, lower blood pressure. It also helps to promote the ripening of boils and treat hernia and diabetes. The aerial parts, together with those of Persicaria poiretii (Meissn.) K.L.Wilson, are crushed and taken in water to treat liver problems.
Preliminary phytochemical screening of the aerial parts confirmed the presence of flavonoids, tannins, saponins, terpenes and sterols. It has been observed that plants harvested in the hot and dry season yielded fewer compounds than those harvested during the rainy period.
Methanol or dichloromethane extracts of the leaves manifested weak free radical scavenging activity in vitro, and no antioxidant activity. Ethanol or water extracts of the leaves showed weak antihypertensive activity in vitro.
Liana or climbing shrub; young parts reddish hairy; all plant parts with latex. Leaves opposite, decussate, simple and entire; petiole 4–7 mm long; blade of young leaves linear, of older leaves narrowly elliptical, 5–12 cm × 0.3–0.9 cm, base tapering into the petiole, apex acute, almost glabrous above, reddish hairy below, midvein distinct. Inflorescence a short, extra-axillary cyme, sometimes almost umbellate, few- to many-flowered, densely short-hairy; peduncle up to 7 mm long; bracts small. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, small; pedicel 2–4 mm long; calyx with elliptical to broadly ovate lobes up to 1.8 mm × 1.4 mm, obtuse to acute, densely red-hairy outside; corolla with tube 1.2–1.4 mm long, lobes oblong, 2–2.6 mm long, rounded to retuse, greenish yellow or greenish white; corona with dorsiventrally compressed lobes up to 1 mm long, attached for two third of the staminal column of c. 0.9 mm long; ovary superior, apical portion of stigma head just exserted from the top of the staminal column. Fruit a pair of spreading or appressed follicles, each one narrowly ovoid, 4–6 cm × 0.4–0.5 cm, tapering gradually to apex, thin-walled, short-hairy, brown, many-seeded. Seeds ovoid, flattened, c. 5 mm long, with a coma of white hairs at apex 2.5–3 cm long.
Secamone comprises about 100 species, and is native to the tropics and subtropics of the Old World; about 67 species are recorded for Madagascar and the Indian Ocean islands, 21 for continental Africa, and several for southern India, South-East Asia and Australia.
Several Secamone species endemic to Madagascar are also medicinally used. An infusion of the aerial parts or the stem bark of Secamone ligustrifolia Decne. and Secamone pachystigma Jum. & Perrier is taken to stimulate milk production. A wood decoction of Secamone ligustrifolia is also taken to treat syphilis. An infusion of the aerial parts of Secamone obovata Decne. is taken to treat venereal diseases in women, whereas an infusion of the aerial parts of Secamone oleaefolia Decne. is taken by people with a nervous break-down.
Secamone volubilis grows in residual semi-arid forests and in rocky localities up to 550 m altitude. It is found flowering in January, February, June and July.
Genetic resources and breeding
Secamone volubilis is relatively common in its relatively small area of distribution, and is apparently not threatened by genetic erosion.
Secamone volubilis has quite a number of local medicinal uses in la Réunion, but tests that were effected until now did not show significant pharmacological activity in vitro. More research concerning its phytochemical compounds might justify further research concerning its pharmacology.
Major references
• Adsersen, A. & Adsersen, H., 1997. Plants from Réunion Island with alleged antihypertensive and diuretic effects - an experimental and ethnobotanical evaluation. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 58: 189–206.
• 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.
• Klackenberg, J., 1992. Taxonomy of Secamone s. lat. (Asclepiadaceae) in the Madagascar region. Opera Botanica 112: 5–127.
• Lavergne, R., 2001. Le grand livre des tisaneurs et plantes médicinales indigènes de la Réunion. Editions Orphie, Chevagny sur Guye, France. 522 pp.
• Poullain, C., Girard-Valenciennes, E. & Smadja, J., 2004. Plants from Reunion island: evaluation of their free radical scavenging and antioxidant activities. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 95: 19–26.
Other references
• Debray, M., Jacquemin, H. & Razafindrambao, R., 1971. Contribution à l’inventaire des plantes médicinales de Madagascar. Travaux et Documents No 8. ORSTOM, Paris, France. 150 pp.
• Gurib-Fakim, A. & Brendler, T., 2004. Medicinal and aromatic plants of Indian Ocean Islands: Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles and Mascarenes. Medpharm, Stuttgart, Germany. 568 pp.
• Lavergne, R. & Véra, R., 1989. Médecine traditionelle et pharmacopée - Contribution aux études ethnobotaniques et floristiques à la Réunion. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 236 pp.
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

Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2010. Secamone volubilis (Lam.) Marais. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 2. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.