References

Mitsuhashi H, etal. (1966) Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 14(7): 717-726. Warashina T, etal. (1998) Phytochem 49(7): 2103-2108.

Warning: Caution must be taken as the toxic effects of this plant are unknown. Oxystelma esculentum (L. f.) R. Br.

[From Greek, oxy = pointed and stelma = crown and from Latin, esculen-tus = fit for food]

Physical description: It is a perennial climber of the stream banks and forests up to 900 m altitude of India, Ceylon, Indonesia and China. Leaves: simple, opposite and without stipules. The petiole is 4mm-7mm long. The blade is linear, papery, 2 cm x 7.5 cm-4 mm x 5 mm; the midrib is showy and the secondary nerves are indistinct. The flowers are large, strikingly handsome, arranged in pedunculate lateral subumbellate or racemose few-flowered cymes that are 3 cm-4 cm long. The calyx is 3 mm long and 5-lobed. The corolla is infundibuliform, pale rose

Uses: In China and Japan, the seeds of Metaplexis japonica (Thunb.) Mak. are used to invigorate health, to heal ulcers, wounds, insect bites and to treat bleeding. The leaves are used to heal wounds and to reduce swellings. In Vietnam, the seeds are used to promote the production of hormones and to check hemorrhages.

Common names: Kulappalai (Ceylon); dugdhi (Sanskrit); usippalai (Tamil).

or whitish, 1.4cm-1.7cm in diameter. The style is slightly convex at the apex. The flower pedicel is 4 cm long. The fruits consist of pairs of ovoid lanceolate follicles that are 3.8cm-6.3cm long, filled with numerous seeds which are long and flat (Fig. 285).

Uses: In Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, Oxystelma esculentum (L. f.) R. Br. is used to heal ulcers and to treat jaundice. In Indonesia, the plant is used to treat cholera. In India, the plant is used to promote urination, venereal desire, to relieve the bowels from costiveness, to expel intestinal worms and to treat leucoderma, jaundice and bronchitis. The follicles are eaten.

Pharmaceutical interest: A number of cardiac glycosides have been characterized from Oxystelma esculentum (L. f.) R. Br. (Srivastava S et a/., 1991). plant remains unexplored.

Fig. 285. Oxystelma esculentum (L. f.) R. Br. From: KLU 29049. Field collectors: Gerrit Davidse & DB Sumithraarachchi. 7 Dec 1974. Geographical localization: altitude 3 m, Northern Province, Mannar District, c.a. 8 miles Northeast of Mantai along the road to Poon-eryu, near mile marker, Ceylon.

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