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Megistostigma - Reutealis

(Spurge family)


Megistostigma burmanica Airy Shaw
[syns Tragia burmanica Kurz, Tragia involucrata L.]

The plant has a vesicant effect (Pammel 1911). It is a stinging nettle (Airy Shaw 1969, Nadkarni 1976) with effects on the skin similar to those produced by Tragia bicolor Miq. (Chopra & Badhwar 1940, Behl et al. 1966).

Megistostigma cordatum Merr.

Airy Shaw (1969) notes that this species is a stinging nettle.

Megistostigma malaccense Hook.f.
[syn. Sphaerostylis malaccensis Pax & K.Hoffm.]
Climbing Croton, Moon Nettle Tree

This climbing plant (Burkill 1935) possesses stinging hairs and is known to produce skin reactions in Malaya (Kochummen 1972).

Melanolepis multiglandulosa Rchb.f. & Zoll.
[syn. Melanolepis multiglandulosa Rchb.f. & Zoll. var. glabrata Fosberg]

Souder (1963) lists this species among spurges that can cause an acute dermatitis on contact with their sap.

Mercurialis annua L.
Annual Mercury

Pammel (1911) lists this species as an irritant and cathartic. The leaves eaten as a vegetable have caused poisoning (Lewis & Elvin-Lewis 1977).

Mercurialis perennis L.

This species has irritant and cathartic properties (Pammel 1911).

Ostodes paniculata Blume

A phorbol diester has been isolated from a chloroform extract of the stems and fruits of this species (Handa et al. 1983).

Pachystylidium hirsutum Pax & K.Hoffm.
[syns Tragia hirsuta Blume, Tragia irritans Merr., Tragia gagei Haines, Tragia delpyana Gagnepain]

Pachystilidium hirsutum is a slender climbing herb with stinging hairs (Airy Shaw 1969, Thurston & Lersten 1969). von Reis Altschul (1973) notes that Tragia hirsuta is irritant to the skin.

The genus Pachystilidium Pax & K.Hoffm. is monotypic. The plant is found in peninsular India, Siam, IndoChina, the Philippines and Java.

Pera Mutis

Forty species are found from Mexico to tropical South America and in the West Indies. The genus has been placed in the family Peraceae by some authorities.

Pera ferruginea Müll.Arg.

The root bark yields a napthaquinone, plumbagin, which has vesicant properties (Thomson 1971). See also Plumbaginaceae.

Phyllanthus L.

About 600 species are found in tropical and subtropical regions except in Europe and northern Asia. The fruits of Phyllanthus emblica L. (emblic, myrobalan) are made into jam. Many species are used medicinally (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).

Souder (1963) lists the following species among spurges that cause an acute dermatitis on contact with their sap or latex:

Phyllanthus acidus Skeels
[syn. Averrhoa acidus L.]
Phyllanthus amarus Schumach. & Thonn.
Phyllanthus debilis Ham.
Phyllanthus marianus Müll.Arg.
Phyllanthus nivosus W.Bull
Phyllanthus saffordii Merr.
Phyllanthus simplex Retz.
Phyllanthus urinaria L. 

The use of certain species as fish poisons has been recorded by Burkill (1935), Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk (1962), von Reis Altschul (1973), and von Reis & Lipp (1982). Piscicidal activity is a common feature of other members of the family with skin irritant activity. However, Burkill (1935) suggests that a saponin may be responsible for this activity in Phyllanthus niruri.

Phyllanthus serpentinus S.Moore

This species is capable of hyperaccumulating nickel from soils rich in this element (Kersten et al. 1980). The contact sensitising capacity of nickel and its salts is well documented (Malten et al. 1976, Cronin 1981).

Picrodendron Planch.

One species is found in the West Indies. The genus has been classified in its own family, the Picrodendraceae, by some authorities.

Picrodendron baccatum Krug & Urb.
[syns Juglans baccata L., Picrodendron macrocarpum Britton, Schmidelia macrocarpa A.Rich.]
Blackwood, Jamaica Walnut

The leaves and bark of Picrodendron macrocarpum have rubefacient properties (Roig y Mesa 1945).

Platygyna Merc.
[syn. Platygyne Howard]

Five species are found in Cuba. Many species have been transferred to the genus Tragia L.

Stinging hairs are found in members of this genus (Thurston & Lersten 1969).

Platygyna hexandra Müll.Arg.

The plant is a vine with stinging hairs (von Reis Altschul 1973).

Platygyna pruriens
[syn. Platygyna urens Merc.]

The plant has stinging hairs (Pardo-Castello 1923, Wimmer 1926).

Reutealis trisperma Airy Shaw
[syns Aleurites trisperma Blanco, Aleurites saponaria Blanco]
Soft Lumbang, Banucalag Nut

If the kernel of the nut is eaten, a burning sensation is experienced in the mouth and throat. The nut oil is said to irritate the skin and cause eruptions, though certainly it does not do so consistently (Burkill 1935). Souder (1963) lists this species among spurges that cause an acute dermatitis on contact with their sap or latex. von Reis & Lipp (1982) recorded a note from an herbarium sample of Aleurites saponaria that the oil from the seeds is somewhat caustic, causing eruptions when applied to the skin.

The genus Reutealis Airy Shaw is monotypic and is found in the Philippine Islands.

Richard J. Schmidt

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