Family Dichapetalaceae Baillon in Martius 1886 nom conserv the Dichapetalum Family

Physical description: The family Dichapetalaceae is a small group of 3 genera and about 235 species of shrubs and woody climbers, principally found in Africa and known to produce fluoroacetic acid and pyridine alkaloids. The largest genera of Dichapetalaceae is the genus Dichapetalum with 200 plant species. The leaves are simple, alternate, stipulate and glandular. The inflorescences are cymes. The flowers are perfect, regular, hypogynous and characteristically fluffy and 5-merous. The stamens alternate with the petals. The anthers are dithecal and open longitudinally. The gynecium consists of 2-3 carpels united into a compound 2-3-locular ovary, each locule containing a pair of apical-axile, pendulous, and anatropous ovules. The style is simple. The fruits are berries containing a few seeds.

Pharmaceutical interest: An example of Dichapetalaceae is Dichapetalum cymosum the grazing of which causes high mortality in cattle and wild animals in South Africa. The Dichapetalum species abound with cardiotoxic fluoroacetic acids which irritate the skin, provoke a tingling sensation around the corners of the mouth and numbness of the face, and cause pulmonary congestion, oedema, froth in the airways and hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. In the Asia-Pacific, Dichapetalum griffithii (Hook. f.) Engl. is medicinal. The pharmacological potential of the family Dichapetalaceae remains unexplored.

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