Metaplexis japonica Thunb

[From Greek, meta = with, plexis = stroke and from Latin, japonica = from Japan]

Synonymy: Marsdenia stauntonii Roem. & Schult., Metaplexis chinensis Decne., Metaplexis stauntonii Schult., Pergularia japonica Thunb., Urostelma chinense Bunge

Common names: Rough potato; lo mo chia (Chinese).

Fig. 284. Metaplexis japonica (Thunb.) Mak. From: KLU Herbarium 22524. Field collector: S. Takagi. 5 Aug 1921. Geographical localization: Japan, Honshu. Kyoto Prefecture: Yoshida, Kyoto, Japan.

Physical description: It is a climber of China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. The stems are glabrous, smooth, and terete. Leaves: simple, opposite and without stipules. The petiole is 1.5 cm-4 cm long and sheathing at the base. The blade is papery, cordate, 4 cm x 8 cm, somewhat glaucous below and shows 4-7 pairs of secondary nerves. The inflorescences are axillary, 5-12 flowered, 2.5cm-5cm long racemes. The flowers are tiny and white. The calyx consists of 5 triangular and 2mm-3mm long sepals. The corolla is tubular, 5-lobed and velvety inside. The style is showy (Fig. 284).

Fig. 284. Metaplexis japonica (Thunb.) Mak. From: KLU Herbarium 22524. Field collector: S. Takagi. 5 Aug 1921. Geographical localization: Japan, Honshu. Kyoto Prefecture: Yoshida, Kyoto, Japan.

Pharmaceutical interest: One might set the hypothesis that the uses mentioned might involve pregnane glyco-sides, which are known to abound in the plant (Mitsuhashi H et a/., 1966; Warashina T et a/., 1998) It would be interesting to observe whether a more intensive study on this plant would disclose any pregnane glycosides or agly-cones of therapeutic interest.

12 O Acetylpergularin (R2= Ac; R3= H) Metaplexigenin (R2= Ac; R3= OH) Deacylmetaplexigenin (R2= H; R3= OH)
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