Family Anacardiaceae Lindley 1830 nom conserv the Sumac Family

Physical description: The family Anacardiaceae consists of about 60 genera and 600 species of tropical trees, climbers or shrubs often exuding an extremely vesicant sap, and known to produce tannins and several sorts of phenolic compounds. The leaves are alternate, rarely opposite, simple or compound, without stipules, often thick and showing straight secondary nerves. The inflorescences are panicles. The flowers are small, white or green, comprises of 5 sepals, 5 petals and 10 stamens originating from the base of a well-developed 5-lobed nectary disc. The anthers are tetrasporangiate and dithecal, and open by longitudinal slits. The gynecium consists of 1-5 carpels forming a 1-3-locular ovary, with each locule containing a single ovule. The styles are bi- or trifid. The fruits are drupaceous and often edible (Mangifera indica L.), often kidney-shaped, occasionally with enlarged persistant sepals (Gluta species) or an enlarged and succulent pedicel (Anacardium species).

Pharmaceutical interest: Classical examples of Anacardiaceae are Pistacia lentiscus var. chia (that produces mastic), Rhus coriaria (dyeing and tanning Sumac), Rhus succedanea (Japanese wax tree) and the edible Pistacia vera (pistachio nut). The dried berries of Rhus glabra (Pennsylvanian sumac)

were formerly used as a mouthwash in the form of a decoction or a liquid extract mixed with glycerin, water and potassium chlorate (Rhus, British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1934). Anacardium melanorrhoea (rengas tree), Toxicodendron vernis (poison sumac) and Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy), are currently responsible for life threatening allergic reactions. As a matter of fact, repeated contacts with any part of a number of Anacardiaceae are shortly followed by edema, pruritus, burning, stinging sensation, erythaema-tous macules, papules, vesicles, exudation, crusting and death with anaphylactic shock. The poisonous principles are long chain substituted phenolic substances: The urushiols (3-pentadecylcatechol) act as powerful haptens that mediate a delayed hypersensitivity response. Apart from causing allergy, these phenolic substances inhibit the enzymatic activity of phospholipase A2, cyclo-oxygenase, 5-lipo-oxygenase and prostaglandine synthetase which are responsible for the inflammatory process, and display antitumor, molluscici-dal, antifungal and antibacterial properties. Other examples of anacardiaceous, pharmacologically active natural products are anti-inflammatory and analgesic tannins, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor terpenoids, and anti-human Immunodeficiency virus flavonoids. In the Asia-Pacific, about 20 species of plants classified within the family Anacardiaceae, including Anacardium occidentale L. (cashew-nut) and Mangifera indica L. (mango), are of medicinal value. These plants are principally used to make astringent medicines.


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