Drymaria cordata Willd

[From Latin, cordis = heart]

Physical description: It is an annual invasive weed native to Central America which grows to a height of 90 cm in damp shaded sites, often near streams or under shrubs, and other open fields. The stems are straggling, sometimes sub-scandent, angled, usually rooting at the lower nodes and hairy toward inflorescence. Leaves: simple and opposite. The stipules are membranous, splitting into a few whitish setae. The petiole is 1 mm-2 mm long and channeled. The blade is papery, 1.2 cm x 2.5 cm-1.6 cm x 9 mm, glabrous, and kidney-shaped to cordate. The midrib is raised below. The blade shows 2 pairs of secondary nerves. The apex of the blade is round or obscurely acuminate, and the margin is entire. The inflorescences are cymose and the flower pedicels are 3mm-5mm long and covered with whitish hairs. The flowers are small and white. The calyx comprises of 5, 3-veined, glandular sepals which are lanceolate ovate, 2mm-3.5mm long and hairy. The corolla consists of 5 lanceolate, 2.5 mm long petals which

Synonymy: Holosteum cordatum L.; Drymaria cordata subsp. diandra (Blume) J. A. Duke; Drymaria diandra Blume.

Common names: Drymaria, West Indian chickweed, tropical chickweed, whitesnow; mourron blanc (French); pipili, pilipili (Hawaii); he lian dou cao (Chinese).

are deeply bifid and pure white. The andrecium comprises of 2-5 stamens which are shorter than the sepals. The gynecium consists of 3 styles connate at the base and is greenish yellow. The fruits are capsular, 2mm-3mm long, 3-valved and contain several dark brown, suborbicular, 1.5 mm long and regularly densely tuberculate seeds (Fig. 74).

Pharmaceutical interest: A methanol extract of Drymaria cordata Willd. displays a significant antitussive activity in a sulphur-dioxide cough-induced experiment, as efficiently as codeine phosphate (Mukherjee PK et a/., 1997). Note that this plant contains saponins and cyclic peptides (Yuan AX etal., 1987; Ding Z et a/., 2000), the former being probably responsible for the antitus-sive property. It will be interesting to learn whether more intensive future research on the cyclic peptides of Drymaria cordata Willd will disclose any molecules of chemotherapeutic interest.

Fig. 74. Drymaria cordata Willd. From: KLU Herbarium 21641. Field collector & botanical identification: J. B. Lowry, 30 Nov 1974. Geographical localization: Boh Tea Estate, Cameron Highlands, Malaysia.

Uses: In Indonesia, a paste made from the aerial part of Drymaria cordata Willd. mixed with lime is applied externally to counteract skin putrefaction. Indonesians drink the juice expressed from this plant to relieve the bowels of cos-tiveness and to treat fever. In Papua New Guinea, Drymaria cordata Willd. is used to invigorate health. In Taiwan, a paste made from the aerial parts is applied externally to counteract snake-poisoning.

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