Barringtonia acutangula L Gaertn

[After D. Barrington, an English naturalist of the 19th century, and from Latin, acuere = sharpen and angulus = angle]

Physical description: It is a small tree which grows by the river banks and fresh water mangroves, in the geographical zone spanning India to Papua New Guinea. The bark of its stem is greyish and cracked longitudinally. The wood is whitish and soft. Leaves: simple, spiral, without stipules and crowded at the apex of the stems. The petiole is 6 mm-1 cm long and flattened above. The blade is spathulate, 3.2 cm x 1.5cm-4cm x 7 cm, glossy, soft, and serrate. The midrib is raised above and below. The blade shows 79 pairs of secondary nerves which are sunke above and raised below. The tertiary nerves are visible and raised above the blade. The inflorescences are terminal and pendulous 20 cm-30 cm long racemes. The flowers are 6 mm long with a quadrangular receptacle, and have 4 sepals and a conspicuous nectary disk (Fig. 101).

Synonymy: Barringtonia luzonensis (Presl) Vidal.

Synonymy: Barringtonia luzonensis (Presl) Vidal.

Fig. 101. Barringtonia acutangula (L.) Gaertn. From: KLU Herbarium 27518. Plants of Ceylon. Geographical localization: Eastern Province, Amparai District, ca. 3 miles Northwest of Maha Oya, altitude 50 m. 3 Dec 1974. Field collectors: Gerrit Davidse & DB Sumithraarachchi.

Pharmaceutical interest The medicinal properties mentioned above are yet to be confirmed, but one might suppose tannins confer bitterness and astringency to the plant. The ichthy-otoxic property of the seeds are confirmed experimentally (Chakraborty DP et al, 1972) and is probably attributed to a series of pentacyclic saponins which include barringtoside A (3-O-p-D-xylopyranosyl(1->.3)-[P.-.D-galactopyranosyl(1->2)],-.p D glu-curonopyranosyl barringtogenol C); barringtoside B, (3.-.O.-p-D.-.xylopyra-nosyl(1->3)]p.-.D.-.galactopyranosyl(1->2)]-p -D-glucuronopyranosyl-21-O-tigloyl-28-O-isobutyryl barringtogenol C); and barringtoside C (3-O-a-L-arabinopyrano-syl(1->3)-[p -D-galactopyranosyl(1->2)]-p D-glucuronopyra-nosyl barringtogenol C (Pal B.C. etal., 1994).

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