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Trichodesma zeylanicum (Burm.f.) R.Br.

Protologue
Prodr.: 496 (1810).
Family
Boraginaceae
Chromosome number
2n = 24
Vernacular names
Camel bush, cattle bush, northern bluebell (En). Herbe cipaye, bourrache sauvage, herbe tourterelle (Fr). Msasa mlanda, mwagewage (Sw).
Origin and geographic distribution
Trichodesma zeylanicum is widespread in the tropics and subtropics of the Old World and in Australia. It occurs throughout tropical Africa, but is absent from West Africa.
Uses
In Tanzania green leaves and roots of Trichodesma zeylanicum are chewed and applied as a poultice to wounds, boils and snakebites. Roots are chewed or pounded and soaked in water, and the infusion is used as a remedy for tuberculosis, stomach-ache, poisoning and rheumatism. In Malawi both leaves and roots are used for treating wounds, the roots also for treating diarrhoea. In the Mascarene Islands a decoction of the plant is used against fever, dysentery and as a diuretic. The powdered root is analgesic when applied to wounds. In Zimbabwe and Comoros powder of dried leaves is applied to infected wounds. In Zimbabwe the leaves are used to prevent stillbirth. The ash of burnt plants enters in prescriptions for cough and scabies. In South Africa the plant is used as an analgesic and for wound healing. In India and Sri Lanka it is used as a snakebite remedy. The seed oil is used for its emollient properties in Tanzania, India and Pakistan.
The young leaves and shoots are cooked and eaten as a vegetable in Tanzania, Malawi and Madagascar. Camels appear to be partial to Trichodesma zeylanicum but other livestock seem to avoid it.
Production and international trade
The seed oil/flower essence of Trichodesma zeylanicum is traded on the international market under the name of ‘wild borage oil’. The main producer is Australia and the main market is western Europe. Quantities and value of the trade are unknown.
Properties
Pyrrolizidine alkaloids, with supinine as the principal component, have been isolated from Trichodesma zeylanicum seeds. These compounds also occur in other Boraginaceae, e.g. Borago officinalis L., Cynoglossum spp. and other Trichodesma spp., and this may explain similar uses. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids can cause fatal liver conditions and several Trichodesma spp. have been implicated in poisoning of livestock. Ricinoleic acid and cyclopropene acid were found in the seed oil.
Botany
Short-lived perennial, less often annual herb, up to 1.5(–2) m tall, much-branched. Leaves simple, lower leaves opposite, upper leaves alternate; stipules absent; petiole up to 1 cm long; blade oblong to oblong-lanceolate, up to 16 cm × 5 cm, base rounded to slightly cordate; narrowing towards apex. Inflorescence a terminal, lax, many-flowered cyme; axes densely clothed with spreading hairs. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5(–6)-merous; calyx lobes ovate-lanceolate, up to 10 mm × 3.5 mm, truncate at base, enlarged in fruit; corolla blue or rarely white with blue margins, with dark reddish purple spot on base of each lobe, tube 4–5 mm long, lobes up to 4.5 mm × 6 mm; stamens sessile; ovary superior, up to 2 mm in diameter, 4-lobed, glabrous. Fruit splitting into 4 ovoid, smooth, brown nutlets c. 5 mm × 2 mm.
Trichodesma comprises about 45 species and is confined to the Old World. Trichodesma zeylanicum and Trichodesma indicum (L.) J.E.Smith are closely related and both have fruits consisting of 4 smooth nutlets. They can be distinguished by the base of the calyx lobes: truncate in the former, hastate, sagittate or cordate in the latter. Trichodesma indicum is considered indigenous in Mauritius, Réunion and tropical Asia. It is found along the coast of Kenya and Tanzania where it probably has been introduced and occurs on sand just above the high-tide mark, in grassland, waste localities and coconut fields. In the Philippines the flowers of Trichodesma indicum are used as a sudorific and pectoral, as a substitute for Borago officinalis. Trichodesma angustifolia Harv. differs from Trichodesma zeylanicum by the appressed hairy inflorescence axes and a larger corolla. It is found in Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa. In Namibia the pulverized root is applied to wounds.
Ecology
Trichodesma zeylanicum is found in disturbed ground and waste places, sometimes in woodland. It is often abundant and is widely regarded as a serious weed of cultivation. In Africa it is found up to 1700 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
As Trichodesma zeylanicum is widely distributed and abundant wherever it occurs, it is not threatened.
Prospects
Further research is needed to evaluate the traditional medicinal uses of Trichodesma zeylanicum and related species. As pyrrolizidine alkaloids have serious long-term toxic effects, these should be included in the evaluation as well.
Major references
• Aguilar, N.O., 2003. Trichodesma R.Br. 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. 407–408.
• Gurib-Fakim, A., Guého, J. & Bissoondoyal, M.D., 1995. Plantes médicinales de Maurice, tome 1. Editions de l’Océan Indien, Rose-Hill, Mauritius. 495 pp.
• Martins, E.S. & Brummitt, R.K., 1990. Boraginaceae. In: Launert, E. & Pope, G.V. (Editors). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 7, part 4. Flora Zambesiaca Managing Committee, London, United Kingdom. pp. 59–110.
• Ruffo, C.K., Birnie, A. & Tengnäs, B., 2002. Edible wild plants of Tanzania. Technical Handbook No 27. Regional Land Management Unit/ SIDA, Nairobi, Kenya. 766 pp.
• Verdcourt, B., 1991. Boraginaceae. In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 125 pp.
Other references
• Adjanohoun, E.J., Aké Assi, L., Ali Ahmed, Eymé, J., Guinko, S., Kayonga, A., Keita, A. & Lebras, M. (Editors), 1982. Médecine traditionelle et pharmacopée - Contribution aux études ethnobotaniques et floristiques aux Comores. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 217 pp.
• Burkill, H.M., 1985. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 1, Families A–D. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 960 pp.
• Decary, R., 1946. Plantes et animaux utiles de Madagascar. Annales du Musée Colonial de Marseille, 54e année, 6e série, 4e volume, 1er et dernier fascicule. 234 pp.
• Gelfand, M., Mavi, S., Drummond, R.B. & Ndemera, B., 1985. The traditional medical practitioner in Zimbabwe: his principles of practice and pharmacopoeia. Mambo Press, Gweru, Zimbabwe. 411 pp.
• Haerdi, F., 1964. Die Eingeborenen-Heilpflanzen des Ulanga-Distriktes Tanganjikas (Ostafrika). In: Haerdi, F., Kerharo, J. & Adam, J.G. (Editors). Afrikanische Heilpflanzen / Plantes médicinales africaines. Acta Tropica Supplementum 8: 1–278.
• Hosamani, K.M., 1994. Ricinoleic and cyclopropene acids in Trichodesma zeylanicum seed oil. Phytochemistry 37(6): 1621–1624.
• Kokwaro, J.O., 1993. Medicinal plants of East Africa. 2nd Edition. Kenya Literature Bureau, Nairobi, Kenya. 401 pp.
• Martins, E.S., 1993. Boraginaceae. Flora de Moçambique. No 112. Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical, Lisbon, Portugal. 75 pp.
• von Koenen, E., 2001. Medicinal, poisonous and edible plants in Namibia. Klaus Hess Verlag, Göttingen, Germany. 336 pp.
• Williamson, J., 1955. Useful plants of Nyasaland. The Government Printer, Zomba, Nyasaland. 168 pp.
Sources of illustration
• Aguilar, N.O., 2003. Trichodesma R.Br. 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. 407–408.
Author(s)
C.H. Bosch
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
Based on PROSEA 12(3): ‘Medicinal and poisonous plants 3’.

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
Photo editor
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2006. Trichodesma zeylanicum (Burm.f.) R.Br. [Internet] Record from PROTA4U. Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. <http://www.prota4u.org/search.asp>. Accessed .
1, part of flowering plant; 2, flower; 3, fruit in calyx.
Source: PROSEA



plant habit