Uncaria elliptica

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Distribution and Importance of the Plant At least 34 species of the genus Uncaria (tribe Cinchonea, subtribe Mitragyninae Havil, family Rubiaceae) are widely distributed in Africa, tropical America, tropical and subtropical Asia (). About 14 species have been reported in Malaysia. Uncaria species are characterized by the presence of hooks on the nodes lying opposite leaves with interpetiolar stipules and a head-shaped inflorescence. It is a woody climber the stems of which are square-shaped, bearing ovate leaves with five to seven lateral veins. The midribs are typically pubescent with long straight hairs, although sometimes only finely pubescent with glabrous laminae. A typical young and an adult Uncaria elliptica plant (woody climber) are shown in Figs. 1 and 2, respectively. This plant was originally found growing among Hevea trees in a large rubber plantation near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The identity was determined with the help of Dr. C.E. Ridsdale and Dr B.A. Krukoff, Botanists of Malesian Botany, Leiden. In open land, the Uncaria plant grows as a bush, also thriving well in the forest or cleared jungles. Some of the species commonly found in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia Read more [...]

Tagetes spp. (Marigolds)

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Tagetes species were used by ancient civilizations like the Aztecs for various purposes (). The pigments of the flowers were used as a dye and in chicken feed, oil was extracted from the leaves and used as an ingredient of perfumes, and the roots were also assumed to have interesting properties. Field tests in the USA in the 1930s showed that larvae of a root-knot nematode entered the roots of marigolds, but usually failed to develop and neither reached the adult stage nor produced eggs (). In 1953, a Dutch bulb breeder () reported the biological activity of common garden marigolds (Tagetes patula) against root rot in Narcissus caused by free-living nematodes. The latter finding was an incentive for a scientific analysis of the effect of Tagetes plants by the crop protection industry and the academic world. A few years after the initial report by Van de Berg-Smit (), Uhlenbroek and Bijloo () isolated and described some active principles from Tagetes plants. These chemicals belonged to a group of heterocyclic sulphur-containing compounds, the thiophenes. The thiophene oe-terthienyl, which occurs in Tagetes and related species, was first synthesized in 1941 () and isolated from plants in 1947 (). In the past three Read more [...]

Strophanthus Species (Members of the Dogbane Family)

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The cardiac glycosides are pharmaceutically potential drug groups that are available to medicine today for the treatment of congestive heart failure. Clinically availabilities are derived from the leaves and seeds of plant in the genera Digitalis and Strophanthus. In vitro culture, regeneration, and production of Digitalis (foxglove) cardenolides and other secondary metabolites were reviewed in detail (). Strophanthus, belonging to the family Apocynaceae (the dogbane family), is from the Greek meaning "a turn or twist" and "a flower" and refers to the twisted lobes of the corolla. About 40 species of Strophanthus native to Africa and Asia, chiefly tropical, are perennial trees, shrubs or climbers up to 3 m tall. The leaves are feathery or leathery and opposite. The cymose inflorescence is terminal. Members of this genus have a variety of fragrant flowers, ranging in color from white, through the yellows and reds, to purple. The calyxes is glandular, the corolla funnel-shaped, with five lobes tapering into attenuated, long tails. The two carpeled ovaries develop into capsular fruits having two diverging free follicles, which enclose the hairy seeds. Strophanthus seeds have long been used by the native Africans in Read more [...]

Solanum glaucophyllum Desf. (Duraznillo Blanco)

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Solanum glaucophyllum Desf. is a calcinogenic plant growing wild mainly in South America, where its ingestion causes intoxication of grazing animals. Early work suggested that glycosides of various vitamin D3 sterols occur in minute concentrations in the plant leaves and are responsible for a calcinotic disease of cattle prevalent in Argentina and Brazil, with symptoms resembling vitamin-D intoxication. The vast literature on this topic describing chemical, toxicological, and physiological aspects has been extensively reviewed in the last decade (). A few communications reporting the occurrence of small amounts of other steroids such as p-sitosterol, diosgenin and solasodine, and also of phenolic derivatives (vide infra), have already been summarized (). Since this chapter is concerned with the in vitro production of metabolites in Solanum glaucophyllum, the naturally occurring steroidal derivatives which have been found to occur also in vitro will be treated preferentially in the following survey. Distribution and Importance of Solanum glaucophyllum Solanum glaucophyllum is a deciduous, rhizomatous shrub () growing wild typically in low-lying, wet land in the poorly drained eastern and central parts of the Buenos Read more [...]

Solanum dulcamara L. (Bittersweet)

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Biology and Distribution Solanum dulcamara L. (=Dulcamara flexuosa Moench) (), known as dogwood or bittersweet (Solanaceae), is a clambering or prostrate, perennial shrub which may grow to a height of 2 m (Hegi 1927). Its stem is angular and woody with the exception of the herbaceous top and ranges in diameter between 0.25 and 2 cm, rarely up to 5-6 cm. The leaves are alternate, long-stalked, sparsely pubescent on both sides, and quite variable in shape. The oval- to egg-shaped leaf blade is pointed at the tip. Its base, however, may also be cordate, arrow-shaped, or may consist of one or two lobes. Different leaf forms may be found on the same plant. The flowers emerge axillary in panicle-like loose clusters. The calyx bears five narrow teeth; the five joint petals are bright purple and their tips are somewhat reflexed when fully expanded. The five stamens have yellow anthers which form a conspicuous column. The fruit is a round- to egg-shaped berry, green when young and becoming bright red when mature. In Europe, the flowering season is May to September. It is distributed throughout Europe and is also a native to North Africa, West Asia, India, the USSR, China, and Japan. It is not clear whether its occurrence in Read more [...]

Silene alba (White Campion)

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Botany and Phytochemistry of Silene alba Silene alba (Miller) E.H.L. Krause, also known as Lychnis dioica L. or Melandrium album (Miller) Garcke, of the family Caryophyllaceae () has many common names: compagnon blanc, robinet, floquet, saponaire blanche, oeil de Dieu, bourbonnaise (in French); white campion, white bachelor's buttons, white bottle, white cuckoo flower (in English); weipe Lichtnelke, Sommetrose, Wiederstock, Junggesellenknopfe, Je-langer-je-freundlicher (in German); fischi da fischiare, lichnide, gittone bianco, erba nocca, violina di macchia (in Italian) (Bonnier 1911-1935). It is a dioecious herb of varied habit, usually growing as a weed on plowed or cultivated ground throughout the whole of Europe. A short-lived perennial (sometimes annual) growing up to 80 cm in height, Silene alba usually has rather thick and soft hairs, usually glandular on the upper epidermis. The leaves are ovate or ovate-lanceolate, the cauline is sessile. The inflorescence consists of loosely bound dichasium of large flowers, which open in the evening and are slightly scented. The flowers are pentamerous. The limb of the petal is distinct from the claw, with ten stamens. The calyx of the male flowers is 15-22 mm in length, Read more [...]

Scopolia spp.

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Scopolia comprises a number of species which are a rich source of tropane alkaloids. In the literature the following species and synonyms have been mentioned: Scopolia acutangula Wu et Chen Scopolia atropoides Scopolia carniolica Jacq. [Asia, Eastern Europe] Scopolia hladnikiana Scopolia japonica Maxim [Japan] Scopolia lurida Scopolia parviflora Nakai [Korea] Scopolia physaloides Dun Scopolia sinensis [China] Scopolia stramonifolia [Central Himalaya] Scopolia tangutica [West China] Synonyms are: Scopolia atropoides = Scopolia hladnikiana = Scopolia carniolica Scopolia stramonifolia = Scopolia lurida = Anisodus luridus = Anisodus stramonifolius Scopolia physaloides = Physalis virginiana Scopolia acutangula = Anisodus acutangulus Scopolia tangutica = Anisodus tanguticus Scopolia parviflora = Scopolia japonica var. parviflora Zheng () gives a fourth species of Anisodus: A. mairei. It is not known whether this species has been described as a Scopolia species. Scopolia carniolica from West Asia was naturalized in Europe. As far as is known, in the last century Scopolia carniolica was cultivated to some extent in the Netherlands and in Lithuania. There was Uttle Read more [...]

Rheum Species (Rhubarb)

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Rhubarb, the rhizome and root of Rheum spp. (Polygonaceae), has been used since ancient times as an important drug in the East and West. It was described in Dioscorides' De Materia Medica as Ra (pα), designating its native place, the Volga (Ra River) basin. It was said to be effective for disorders of stomach and intestine, as well as for pains in spleen, liver, kidney, abdomen, bladder, and chest (). In traditional Chinese medicine, rhubarb (Da-Huang in Chinese) has been used as a major component of some prescriptions for the treatment of blood stasis, in which it produces mildly purgative, antiinflammatory, and sedative effects. In western countries, rhubarb is mostly employed as a purgative drug in folk medicine. Several Rheum species are recognized as being the original rhubarb plants, from which Rheum palmatum L., Rheum tanguticum Maxim., and Rheum officinale Bail, are recommended for medicinal use. All these species with palmately or elliptically lobed large leaves are native in cool, high-altitude districts in Tibet, Chianhai, Yunnan, and Si-Chuang Provinces, China. A Korean species, Rheum coreanum Nakai, possesses similarly shaped leaves to those of Chinese origin. The rhizome and root of Rheum sp. growing Read more [...]

Ptelea trifoliata (Quinine Tree, Hop Tree)

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Ptelea trifoliata L. (Rutaceae) is a bush of North American origin that has been cultivated in Europe since the eighteenth century. Pharmacological properties (particularly bacteriocidal and cytotoxic activities) are due to the presence of coumarins and quinoline alkaloids. Botany and Distribution Ptelea trifoliata's common names include: quinine tree, potato chip tree, and hop tree (the latter being the most widely used today); in Spanish, Cola de Zorillo; in French Ptelea a 3 feuilles, trefle de Virginie, Orme de Samarie - this last name was first used in France around 1800 and is still widely used (). Ptelea trifoliata L., described by Linnaeus in 1753, is extremely variable in its morphology and chemical composition. This explains the description of numerous varieties which have often been raised to the rank of species. The most recent revision of the genus Ptelea is by Bailey () who recognizes only three species: Ptelea trifoliata L., Ptelea crenulata Greene, and Ptelea aptera Parry, although he subdivides P. trifoliata into five subspecies and ten varieties. The Ptelea species are deciduous bushes, 3-4 m tall, with trifoliate aromatic leaves (). A large number of detailed descriptions exist (). There have Read more [...]

Polygonum hydropiper L. (Water Pepper)

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Distribution and Importance Polygonum hydropiper L. (family Polygonoceae) is a member of a genus of some 175 species. It is a semi-erect (25-75 cm) annual herb with a branched stem and lance-shaped leaves, carrying its greenish-pink flowers in slender racemes (). The species is widespread in most parts of Europe, temperate Asia, and North America, and it also occurs at scattered sites in North Africa. Across its main range it is abundant in the verges of ponds and ditches and on waterlogged grasslands and water meadows. Polygonum hydropiper is not grown commercially but has found an exceptionally impressive range of uses in folk medicine and also as a culinary herb, and this has led to the adoption of a rich variety of apt local names, e.g. fireweed, arsemart and smartweed are examples of some 20 English regional names in addition to the accepted vernacular name of "water pepper". The flower heads have little odour but all the aerial parts have a bitter acrid taste and contain vesicant compounds that blister the skin upon repeated handling (). Medicinal use of Polygonum hydropiper goes back to Dioscorides (ca. 60 a.d.) and tinctures of foliage are used as diuretics, diaphoretics, and to arrest gynecological bleeding Read more [...]