Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
A.DC., Prodr. 15(2.2): 1157 (1866).
Tanguin de pays, bois de lait (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Stillingia lineata occurs in Réunion and Mauritius, and also in Fiji, the Philippines, the Lesser Sunda Islands and the Moluccas.
In Mauritius bathing in the decoction of the whole plant is recommended as a cure for eczema. The leaves are toxic and stupefying.
The leaves and stems contain phenols, tannins, coumarins, terpenes, saponins and alkaloids. A dichloromethane extract of the leaves showed cytotoxic effects. Extracts from Stillingia lineata were among the most active against human tumour cell line Co-115 in in-vitro tests.
Monoecious shrub or small tree up to 12 m tall; bark smooth, covered with leaf-scars. Leaves alternate, simple, crowded at apex of branches; stipules 1–1.5 mm long, deeply split, soon falling; petiole 3–17 mm long, without glands or with a pair of glands on the junction with the blade; blade orbicular to elliptical, (4–)7–24 cm × 2–4 cm, base cuneate to obtuse, apex acute to rounded to retuse, margin entire or toothed with teeth 2–3(–4) mm apart, membranous or slightly succulent. Inflorescence a terminal spike 2–13 cm long, lower part with up to 12 solitary female flowers, terminal part with male flowers in clusters of up to 15 flowers; bracts minute. Flowers unisexual, nearly sessile; pedicel minute; male flowers with tubular perianth with 2 lobes or horns, 1 mm long, stamens 2, filaments c. 1 mm long; female flowers with 3-lobed perianth, ovary superior, ovoid, 3-celled, styles 3. Fruit a 3-lobed capsule 5–6 mm × 7–8 mm, notched, dehiscing explosively, remaining thickened, 3-lobed stalk up to 8 mm in diameter. Seeds oblong, 4–5 mm × 3–3.5 mm, grey when dry, pitted, with caruncle. Seedling with epigeal germination.
In Stillingia lineata 2 subspecies are distinguished. The typical subspecies from Mauritius and Réunion has firm to slightly succulent, entire leaves with scarcely visible venation and no marginal glands, whereas the Asian plants are distinguishable by thin leaves with obvious serration, venation and glands.
Stillingia comprises about 30 species, 27 of which are Neotropical, ranging from Argentina to the United States. Of the 3 species native to the Old World, 2 are endemic to Madagascar.
Stillingia lineata occurs on beaches, but also in forest up to 300 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
In Réunion Stillingia lineata has a protected status, but in Mauritius it is not considered threatened.
The cytotoxic properties of Stillingia lineata warrant further research.
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Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2008. Stillingia lineata (Lam.) Müll.Arg. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.