Ophiorrhiza communis Ridl

[From Greek, ophis = snake, rhiza = root and Latin, communis = common]

Synonymy: Ophiorrhiza singaporen-sis, Ophiorrhiza discolor, Ophiorrhiza major Ridl.

Common name: Snakeroot; pokok peparu (Malaysia).

Uses: In Malaysia, a paste of Ophiorrhiza communis Ridl. is used to heal wounds, treat enlarged spleen and to alleviate cough.

Fig. 354. Ophiorrhiza communis Ridl. From: KLU Herbarium 20567. Flora of Malaya. Field collector: CS Chung. 25 Sep 1970. Geographical localization: Selangor, Gua Batu limestone hill, on Northeast slope, Malaysia, altitude: 300 ft. Botanical identification: Samsuri bin Ahmad.

Physical description: It is a little herb which grows in the rainforest of Malaysia. Leaves: simple, asymmetrical, thin, decussate and stipulate. The stipules are interpetiolar. The blade is 4 cm-15 cm x 3 cm-10 cm, oval elliptic and pointed at the apex. The inflorescences are terminal and deer antlers-like. The calyx is tiny and 5-lobed. The corolla is white or pinkish and 5-lobed. The andrecium consists of 5 stamens. The fruits are capsular, heart-shaped, containing several tiny seeds and open at the apex (Fig. 354).

Fig. 354. Ophiorrhiza communis Ridl. From: KLU Herbarium 20567. Flora of Malaya. Field collector: CS Chung. 25 Sep 1970. Geographical localization: Selangor, Gua Batu limestone hill, on Northeast slope, Malaysia, altitude: 300 ft. Botanical identification: Samsuri bin Ahmad.

OH O

Camptothecin

OH O

Camptothecin

Pharmaceutical interest: Ophiorrhiza species have attracted a great deal of interest with regard to their tendency to elaborate antiviral and cytotoxic monoterpenoid quinoline alkaloids. One such alkaloid is camptothecin from Ophiorrhiza mungos (Tafur S et al., 1976), which is also known to occur in the Subclass Rosidae: Camptotheca acuminata Decsne. (Family Nyssaceae, Order Cornales), and Nothapodytes fetida (Wight.) Sleumer (Family Icacinaceae, Order Celastrales). Although camptothecin inhibits the growth of a broad-spectrum of cancer cells, it is too toxic for clinical uses. 10-Hydroxycamptothecin is more active than camptothecin and is used in China to treat cancer of the neck and the head.

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