Carmona microphylla Lamk

[After B. S. Carmona = a Spanish botanical artist of the 18th century and from Greek, mikros = small and phullon = leaf]

Synonymy: Ehretia buxifolia Roxb., Ehretia macrophylla Lamk., Carmona retusa (Vahl), Masam. Cordia retusa Vahl, Ehretia dentata Courchet.

Common names: Fukien tea, Ceylon boxwood; pala (Hindi); kuruvingi (Tamil).

Fig. 299. Carmona macrophylla (Lamk.) Don.

Physical description: It is a shrub which grows to a height of 2 m. The stems are terete, woody, smooth, reddish and subglabrous. Leaves: simple, spirally arranged in groups of 4-6 or solitary. The petiole is indistinct. The blade is leathery, hairy, spathulate, 2 cm x 7mm-5cm x 2 cm, glossy, dark green above, dentate and shows a few pairs of secondary nerves. The inflorescences are axillary cymes that are few-flowered. The calyx comprises of 5 linear, hairy and 3.5 mm long sepals which are persistent in fruits. The corolla is white and shows 5 lobes which are 3 mm x 1 mm. The stamens are exserted. The style is bifid. The fruits are glossy, scarlet berries that are 4 mm in diameter, while the apex is pointed in a vestigial style (Fig. 299).

Pharmaceutical interest: Carmona microphylla (Lamk.) Don is interesting because it elaborates a series of quinonoid xanthenes, including ehre-tianoneand microphyllone. Ehretianone protects mice against the venom of Echis carinatus (Selvanayagam ZE

Uses: In Indonesia, Carmona microphylla (Lamk.) Don is given as a depurative after childbirth, used to combat fever and to treat diarrhea with blood. In the Philippines, the plant is used to combat fever and to treat stomach discomfort.

et al., 1996). Microphyllone inhibits the activation of rat basophiles stimulated by antigens (Yamamura S et al., 1995). The concomitance of both antipyretic activity and antivenom activity in Carmona macrophylla (Lamk.) Don suggest the inhibition of phospholipase A2 or other enzymes involved in the metabolism of autacoids. However, this is yet to be confirmed experimentally.

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