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Thesium viride A.W.Hill

Protologue
Bull. Misc. Inform. Kew 1910: 238 (1910).
Family
Santalaceae
Origin and geographic distribution
Thesium viride is distributed from Sierra Leone, Mali and Niger east to Sudan.
Uses
In Benin the powdered aerial parts are eaten either pure or in a sauce to treat jaundice; a decoction of the branches is drunk for the same purpose.
Properties
No chemical or pharmacological research on Thesium viride has been done. However, cardiac glucosides and quercitrin (a flavonoid glycoside) have been isolated from other Thesium species. A complicating factor of research into the properties is that compounds extracted from Thesium may have been produced by the host plant. Thesinine (a pyrrolizidine alkaloid) isolated from Thesium might well be an example of transfer from a host.
Botany
Hemi-parasitic subshrub up to 45 cm tall, with tufts of stems arising from a woody rootstock; stems branched, c. 2 mm thick, greyish green. Leaves alternate, simple and entire, sessile, narrowly ovate to linear, c. 4 mm × 0.5 mm, apex acuminate. Flowers axillary and terminal, solitary, bisexual, regular, (4–)5-merous; bracts ovate to narrowly ovate, c. 2 mm long, apex acute; perianth tube c. 1 mm long, lobes oblong-ovate, c. 1.5 mm long; stamens inserted on perianth tube; ovary superior, style up to c. 3 mm long. Fruit an ellipsoid, ridged achene c. 3 mm × 2 mm, reticulately veined, perianth persistent, c. 2 mm long.
Thesium comprises about 300 species, and is distributed in Africa and Eurasia. In East Africa about 17 species occur and in southern Africa 175. Thesium is parasitic on a wide range of plants without evident host specificity. However, details are lacking for most of the African species. Species are distinguished by the minute flowers, which make identification difficult. For large parts of Africa treatment of the genus in regional floras is only recent or not yet published. Hence, many references of medicinal use relate to plants that are not identified at species level. In Namibia a decoction of the crushed roots of Thesium lineatum L.f. and Thesium lacinulatum A.W.Hill is taken to treat venereal diseases and uterine problems. Thesium lineatum has been a subject of study because it is responsible for fatal poisoning of cattle, sheep and goats. Thesiuside, a cardiac glucoside of the bufadienolide type, was identified as the active principle in poisoning.
Ecology
Thesium viride occurs in wooded savanna, in rocky terrain, along streams and in fallow fields at 800–1750 m altitude. It withstands regular burning.
Genetic resources and breeding
As Thesium viride is distributed widely and as there are no signs of over-exploitation, no threats to its genetic diversity are envisaged.
Prospects
Thesium viride and other Thesium species, including the African ones, have interesting characteristics that have yet to be exploited by research. A solid taxonomic foundation for further work is more or less in place. Studies into host specificity could yield a better understanding of chemical properties and toxicity.
Major references
• Adjanohoun, E.J., Adjakidjè, V., Ahyi, M.R.A., Aké Assi, L., Akoègninou, A., d’Almeida, J., Apovo, F., Boukef, K., Chadare, M., Cusset, G., Dramane, K., Eyme, J., Gassita, J.N., Gbaguidi, N., Goudote, E., Guinko, S., Houngnon, P., Lo, I., Keita, A., Kiniffo, H.V., Kone-Bamba, D., Musampa Nseyya, A., Saadou, M., Sodogandji, T., De Souza, S., Tchabi, A., Zinsou Dossa, C. & Zohoun, T., 1989. Contribution aux études ethnobotaniques et floristiques en République Populaire du Bénin. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 895 pp.
• Lawalrée, A., 1972. Santalaceae. Flore du Cameroun. Volume 14. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. pp. 65–71.
• Polhill, R.M., 2005. Santalaceae. In: Beentje, H.J. & Ghazanfar, S.A. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 27 pp.
• von Koenen, E., 2001. Medicinal, poisonous and edible plants in Namibia. Klaus Hess Verlag, Göttingen, Germany. 336 pp.
Other references
• Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (Editors), 2006. Flore analytique du Bénin. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. 1034 pp.
• Burkill, H.M., 2000. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 5, Families S–Z, Addenda. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 686 pp.
• Keay, R.W.J. & Hepper, F.N., 1958. Santalaceae. In: Keay, R.W.J. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 1, part 2. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 665–666.
• van Heerden, F.R., Vleggaar, R. & Anderson, L.A.P., 1988. Structure elucidation of thesiuside, a bufadienolide glycoside from Thesium lineatum. South African Journal of Chemistry 41(2): 39–41.
• van Wyk, B.E., van Heerden, F. & van Oudtshoorn, B., 2002. Poisonous plants of South Africa. Briza Publications, Pretoria, South Africa. 288 pp.
Sources of illustration
• Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (Editors), 2006. Flore analytique du Bénin. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. 1034 pp.
Author(s)
C.H. Bosch
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands


Editors
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
C.H. Bosch
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
M.S.J. Simmonds
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB, United Kingdom
R. Arroo
Leicester School of Pharmacy, Natural Products Research, De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester LE1 9BH, United Kingdom
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
General editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2007. Thesium viride A.W.Hill. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
1, flowering branch; 2, flower; 3, young fruits; 4, mature fruit.
Source: Flore analytique du Bénin