Pittosporum tobira Thunb

[From Greek, pitta = resin and spora = seed and from Japanese, tobira = Pittosporum tobira (Thunb.) Ait.]

Common names: Australian laurel, mock orange, Japanese Pittosporum; hai tong (Chinese).

Fig. 147. Pittosporum tobira (Thunb.) Ait. From: KLU Herbarium 037870. Ex. Herbarium of University of the Ryukyus. Geographical Localization: Okinawa: Yona Experim. Plantation of the Univ., Kunigami; along woodland path. 7 June 1984. Field Collector and Botanical Identification: Shimabuku. From: KLU 10418. Chiba, 30 Sep 1955.

Physical description: The plant is native to Japan and China. The stems are terete, smooth and glabrous. Leaves: simple, alternate, crowded at the apex of the stems and without stipules. The petiole is 6 mm-1.5 cm long and channeled above. The blade is spathulate, coriaceous, 6 cmx2.8 cm-12 cm x 4 cm, glossy, and dark green. The margin of the blade is wavy and recurved, and the midrib is deeply sunken above and raised below. The blade shows 7-9 pairs of secondary nerves. The inflorescences are 2.5 cm long axillary racemes of whitish flowers. The corolla is tubular and 5-lobed. The andrecium consists of 5 stamens alternating with the lobes. The fruits are capsular, 3-lobed, green, 1.5cm x 1 .3 cm, and dehiscent. The seeds are numerous and embedded in a viscous and bright red pulp (Fig. 147).

Fig. 147. Pittosporum tobira (Thunb.) Ait. From: KLU Herbarium 037870. Ex. Herbarium of University of the Ryukyus. Geographical Localization: Okinawa: Yona Experim. Plantation of the Univ., Kunigami; along woodland path. 7 June 1984. Field Collector and Botanical Identification: Shimabuku. From: KLU 10418. Chiba, 30 Sep 1955.

Pharmaceutical interest: An ethanol extract of the leaves of Pittosporum phylliraeoides DC. var. microcarpa S. Moore is antiviral against Ross River virus cultured in vitro (Semple SJ etal., 1998).

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