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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Commicarpus plumbagineus

Family Nyctaginaceae
(This has no common name)
Commicarpus plumbagineus is widespread from southern Spain throughout Africa to South Africa and Madagascar, extending in the east to Palestine, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Scrambling herb with long branched stems, up to several metres, growing from a woody root-stock. Stems may be woody near the base. The leaves are ovate, slightly fleshy, more or less pubescent on both surfaces; inflorescences in irregular umbels of white trumpet-shaped flowers with long exserted stamens; fruits up to 1.3 cm with wart-like sticky glands scattered along the sides and concentrated around the apex.

Commicarpus plumbagineus occurs in forest and grassland, often along water courses on a variety of soils up to 1800 m altitude.

Genetic resources and breeding

Commicarpus plumbagineus is widespread and hence not threatened with genetic erosion.


In view of the many medicinal uses and the complete lack of chemical and pharmacological data, research into the properties of Commicarpus plumbagineus may prove worthwhile.


The roots and leaves of Commicarpus plumbagineus are expectorant and in large doses emetic, and are widely used to treat asthma. In West Africa the leaves are boiled and made into poultices for application to ulcers and Guinea worm sores. In Ghana the crushed roots are applied to treat yaws, whereas in Nigeria a poultice from the roots is used by Hausa people to treat leprosy. In Ethiopia a decoction of the leaves is taken to treat jaundice. A leaf decoction and the ash of burned stems are applied to wounds. In Ethiopia and Kenya ground leaves are applied to burns. In Kenya crushed leaves are rubbed on swollen glands. In Madagascar a decoction of the whole plant is used as laxative. In Ethiopia Commicarpus plumbagineus is used in veterinary medicine to treat skin diseases of cattle. In Kenya an infusion of the whole plant is used as an insecticide, e.g. against lice in humans and against other insects on camels. In DR Congo a decoction of the leaves is given as a laxative to cattle.

In northern Nigeria Commicarpus plumbagineus is sometimes grazed by livestock. In Kenya the plant is used as forage for all livestock, but is said to make the milk taste bitter.

In Namibia a root decoction of Commicarpus pentandrus (Burch.) Heimerl mixed with Thesium lineatum L.f. is taken orally to treat gonorrhoea. Also in Namibia, a hot water extract of leaves and roots of Commicarpus fallacissimus (Heimerl) Pohnert is taken orally or as an enema to treat pain moving from the back to the legs.