Polyalthia cauliflora Hook f Thoms var beccarii King J Sinclair

[From Greek, polus = many, althein = cure, from Latin, caulis = stem and floris = flower]

Physical description: It is a shrub of the rainforests of Borneo, Malaysia and Sumatra. Leaves: simple, alternate and exstipulate. The blade is 9cm-20cm x 4cm-8cm, leathery, glossy, elliptic acuminate, acute at the base and shows 8-10 pairs of secondary nerves. The petiole is 5 mm-7 mm long. The flowers are cauline, on 2cm-4cm long pedicels. The calyx

Synonymy: Balet (Malay).

consists of 3 sepals which are triangular, pubescent on the outside and 6mm-7mm long. The corolla consists of 6 petals arranged in 2 whorls. The petals are 3.5cm-5.5cm long, thick, and cream to pinkish brown. The fruits consist of several ovoid, 1 cm long, ripe, 2cm-2.5cm long carpels, each carpel containing 1 to 2 seeds (Fig. 13).

Uses: Polyalthia cauliflora Hook. f. & Thoms. var. beccarii (King) J. Sinclair is principally used in Malaysia, where a paste of the powdered leaves is applied externally to treat skin infection.

Pharmaceutical interest: The antiseptic property of Polyalthia cauliflora Hook. f. & Thoms. var. beccarii (King) J. Sinclair involves probably four sorts of natural products: terpenes, alkaloids, benzopyrans and tannins:

Fig. 13. Polyalthia cauliflora Hook. f. & Thoms. var. beccarii (King) J. Sinclair.

Diterpenes: A common and interesting feature of Polyalthia species, is the presence of cytotoxic and antimicrobial clerodane and labdane diterpenes. Labdane diterpenes characterized from Polyalthia barnesii inhibit the proliferation of several human cancer cell-lines and P388 cell-line cultured in vitro (ED50 = 0.5 ^g/mL-18.5 ^g/mL; Ma X et al, 1994). Polyalthialdoic acid, a clerodane diterpene characterized from the stem bark of Polyalthia longifolia, inhibits the proliferation of human tumor cell-lines cultured in vitro (ED50 = 0.6^g/mL; Zhao GX et al., 1991). The stem bark of Polyalthia longifolia var. pendulla contains a number of clerodane diterpenes which are strongly antimicrobial (minimal inhibiting concentration: 8 ^g/mL-64 ^g/mL; Rashid MA etal., 1996). Other examples of terpenes are leishmaniacidal (Leishmania dono-vani donovani ED50 = 0.75 mg/mL) labdane diterpenes characterized from the stem bark Polyalthia macropoda (Richomme P et al., 1991) and a lanostane-type triterpene from Polyalthia suberosa (Roxb.). Twaites which inhibits the replication of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus in H9 lymphocytes (Li H etal., 1993).

Isoquinoline alkaloids: Lanuginosine and oxostepharine characterized from the bark of Polyalthia longifolia var. pendulla, inhibit, in vitro, the proliferation of

Staphylococcus aureus. Lanuginosine inhibits the proliferation of several types of fungi (Ferdous AJ etal., 1992). The stem bark of Polyalthialongifolia contains liriodenine, which is cytotoxic (Wu YC etal., 1990; see Fissistigmaspecies).The leaves Polyalthia olivericontain oliveroline, which interestingly displays, in vivo, anti-Parkinson properties, whereas oliverine relaxes vascular smooth muscle in apapaverine-like way and is therefore antihypertensive (Quevauviller A etal., 1977).

Benzopyrans: Polyalthidine characterized from Polyalthia cerasoides inhibits the enzymatic activity of mitochondrial ubiquinol cytochrome-C oxido reductase respiratory chain in cancer cell-line cultured in vitro (IC50 < 5 mM; Zafra-Polo MC etal., 1996).

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