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Tournefortia acuminata A.DC.

Protologue
Prodr. 9: 520 (1845).
Family
Boraginaceae
Vernacular names
Bois de Laurent-Martin (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Tournefortia acuminata is endemic to Réunion.
Uses
The leaves of Tournefortia acuminata are considered to have diuretic properties and are traditionally used to treat kidney stones in Réunion.
Properties
The presence of alkaloids has been confirmed by general tests on Tournefortia acuminata but otherwise nothing is known of its chemistry. Laboratory tests with leaf extracts of Tournefortia acuminata did not confirm the diuretic properties claimed in folk medicine. Leaf extracts of Tournefortia argentea L.f. have been proven efficient in counteracting poisoning by ciguatoxins (produced by the dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus toxicus and transferred by fish): they counteract the neurocellular effects and have beneficial action on the gastro-intestinal disturbances. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids have been isolated from twigs of Tournefortia argentea. Several phenolic compounds, including salicylic acid and tournefolin A–C, have been isolated from the stems of Tournefortia sarmentosa Lam., a species from tropical Asia that is widely used medicinally.
Botany
Shrub or small tree; stem with minute, closely appressed brown or golden hairs or glabrous. Leaves alternate, simple and entire; blade obovate to elliptical, 12–17 cm × 3.5–7 cm, acute at base and at apex, with 10–15 pairs of veins. Inflorescence a terminal, dichotomously branched, scorpioid cyme. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, sessile; calyx 1.5–2 mm long, sparsely hairy; corolla white, tube 3.5–7 mm long, lobes c. 4 mm wide. Fruit a small, white, globose drupe c. 6 mm in diameter, splitting into two 2-seeded parts.
Tournefortia and related genera are in need of revision. Tournefortia comprises about 100 species, most of them native in America and with about 15 species in the Old World, 2 in mainland Africa and 4 endemic to the Indian Ocean islands.
The widespread Tournefortia argentea L.f. (synonym: Argusia argentea (L.f.) Heine), ‘octopus tree’, ‘veloutier blanc’ or ‘bois tabac’, occurs on coastal beaches from Kenya to Mozambique, the Indian Ocean islands and through Asia to Australia. The leaves are used as a poison antidote in Vietnam and New Caledonia; they are eaten raw as a vegetable and smoked like tobacco.
Ecology
Tournefortia acuminata is found throughout Réunion, but is nowhere abundant. It tends to flower in the cyclone season (November–April).
Genetic resources and breeding
In Réunion Tournefortia acuminata is considered rare and vulnerable, and in need of protection. The other African Tournefortia species, with the exception of Tournefortia argentea, are uncommon and vulnerable as well.
Prospects
Almost nothing is known about the phytochemistry and pharmacological properties of the African Tournefortia species. Research into the chemistry and pharmacology is long overdue. However, they are likely to remain of limited importance. Survival of the vulnerable species should be assured by protection of their habitats.
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.
• Gurib-Fakim, A. & Brendler, T., 2004. Medicinal and aromatic plants of Indian Ocean Islands: Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles and Mascarenes. Medpharm, Stuttgart, Germany. 568 pp.
Other references
• Aguilar, N.O., 2003. Tournefortia L. In: Lemmens, R.H.M.J. & Bunyapraphatsara, N. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(3). Medicinal and poisonous plants 3. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 402–404.
• Diane, N., Förther, H. & Hilger, H.H., 2002. A systematic analysis of Heliotropium, Tournefortia, and allied taxa of the Heliotropiaceae (Boraginales) based on ITS1 sequences and morphological data. American Journal of Botany 89(2): 287–295.
• Friedmann, F., 1994. Flore des Seychelles: Dicotylédones. Editions de l’ORSTOM, Paris, France. 663 pp.
• Johnston, I.M., 1935. Studies in the Boraginaceae, XI. Journal of the Arnold Arboretum 16(2): 145–205.
• Lin, Y.L., Tsai, Y.L., Kuo, Y.H., Liu, Y.H. & Shiao, M.S., 1999. Phenolic compounds from Tournefortia sarmentosa. Journal of Natural Products 62(11): 1500–1503.
• Miller, J.S., 2001. Tournefortia kirkii (I.M.Johnston) J.S.Mill. (Boraginaceae): A new combination for a species from Madagascar. Adansonia 23(2): 297–301.
• Riedl, H., 1997. Boraginaceae. In: Flora Malesiana, Series 1. Volume 13. Rijksherbarium/ Hortus Botanicus, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 43–144.
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., 2006. Tournefortia acuminata A.DC. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.