Lagerstroemia subcostata Koehne

[After M Lagerstroem, 1671-1759, a Swedish patron of science, and from Latin, sub = under and costatus = ribbed]

Physical description: It is a tree which grows to a height of 10 m in the lowland rainforests of Taiwan and central China. Leaves: simple, sub-sessile, subopposite and membranaceous. The blade is oblong to obovate, 1.5cm-4.8cm x 1 cm-2.5cm, ribbed

Synonymy: Lagerstroemia subcostata Koehne var. haitella Koehne, Murtughas subcostata Ktze., Lagerstroemia unguiculosa Koehne.

and acuminate and shows 3-10 pairs of secondary nerves. The flowers are arranged in conspicuous, terminal and hirsute panicles. The calyx is 5-lobed, the corolla comprises of 6 petals which are white, and 2 mm-6 mm long. The andrecium comprises of about 20 stamens. The fruits are 6mm-8mm long capsules opening longitudinally into 3-6 valves and containing several winged seeds.

Pharmaceutical interest: The pharmacological potential of Lagerstroemia sub-costata Koehne remains unexplored. It will be worth investigating whether a petroleum ether extract of seeds of Lagerstroemia speciosa (L.) Pers. inhibits the proliferation of bacteria in vitro (Sinhabadu A et a/., 1994). The plant is known to contain ellagic acid which may be involved in the former property (Takahashi M et a/., 1977).

Antidiabetes property: Note that Lagerstroemia speciosa (L.) Pers. is known to produce ellagitannins: lagerstroemin, flosin B and reginin A, which increase the glucose uptake of rat adipocytes, and a triterpene corosolic acid which promotes the glucose transport activator by Ehrlich ascites tumor cells (Murakami C et a/., 1993). The antidiabetic activity of an extract from the leaves of Lagerstroemia speciosa (L.) Pers. standardized to 1% corosolic acid (GlucosolR) is confirmed in a randomized clinical trial involving non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (Judy VW eta/., 2003).

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