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   Index



 

EUPHORBIACEAE — 9
Euphorbia paganorum - Euphorbia punicea

(Spurge family)

 



Euphorbia paganorum A. Chev.

The latex of this thorny succulent species is very caustic (Dalziel 1937).

Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) demonstrated the irritancy of the latex in a mouse ear irritancy assay, and subsequently reported the presence of 12-deoxyphorbol esters in the plant (Evans & Kinghorn 1975a, 1977).



Euphorbia palustris L.
(syn. Tithymalus palustris Hill)

Pammel (1911) lists this species as being irritant.

Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) found the latex of this species to be a weak irritant in a mouse ear irritancy assay. The activity has been ascribed to the presence of ingenol esters (Upadhyay et al. 1980a).



Euphorbia paralias L.
(syn. Tithymalus paralias Hill)
Sea Spurge

Gerarde (1636) wrote about the sea spurge (which he named Tithymalus paralius): "I took but one drop of it [the sap] into my mouth; which neuerthelesse did so inflame and swell in my throte that I hardly escaped with my life." His companion, Mr Rich, was similarly affected. Pammel (1911) lists the species as being irritant.

Sayed et al. (1980) have reported the presence of ingenol esters in this species.



Euphorbia pentagona Haw.
(syn. Euphorbia heptagona A. Berger)

Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) found the latex of this species to be weakly irritant in a mouse ear irritancy assay, and subsequently reported the presence of ingenol esters in the plant (Evans & Kinghorn 1977).



Euphorbia peploides Gouan
(syn. Tithymalus peploides Klotzsch & Garcke)

Upadhyay et al. (1980a) demonstrated weakly irritant effects of this plant in a mouse ear irritancy assay but could find no ingenol esters.



Euphorbia peplus L.
(syn. Tithymalus peplus Gaertner)
Petty Spurge

The latex is irritant (Pamell 1911, Bernhard-Smith 1923, Chopra & Badhwar 1940, Behl et al. 1966, North 1967, Everist 1972, von Reis Altschul 1973). This plant is one of the commonest weeds in gardens in Australia. The handling of the plant when weeding is a common source of irritation of the skin, particularly of the face, and of the eyes and lips (Francis & Southcott 1967). The plant produces buccal irritation in animals that eat it (Hurst 1942). Calnan (1975) reported dermatitis from the plant, and positive patch test reactions in all of six controls.

The juice has been employed for destroying rodent ulcers and warts (Maiden 1917). The milky sap (latex) is effective for treating solar keratoses (Wilkinson 1974) and basal cell carcinoma (Weedon & Chick 1976, Flood 1976) but this latter property cannot be regarded as being infallible (Beardmore 1976).

The sap is particularly irritating to the human eye (Lampe & Fagerström 1968, Grant 1974). Severe keratitis and corneal oedema resulted in a man from accidental instillation of the latex into the eye; recovery was complete in 10–12 days (Hartmann 1940b).

The dried sap of the plant has been observed to affect photographic plates at a distance of 1 cm (Chapman & Petrie 1912), but this could not be reproduced by Weedon & Chick (1976).

The irritant properties of this species (Kinghorn & Evans 1975a) may be ascribed to the presence of ingenol esters (Evans & Kinghorn 1977, Upadhyay et al. 1980a). Rizk et al. (1984) have reported the isolation of two irritant ingenane polyol esters, one being a 20-deoxyingenol ester, the other an ingenol ester.



Euphorbia petiolaris Sims
(syn. Tithymalus petiolaris Haw.)

Brache & Aquino (1978) note that this species is among the 14 commoner causes of plant contact dermatitis in the Dominican Republic.



Euphorbia pilosa L.
(syn. Tithymalus pilosus Hill)

Chopra & Badhwar (1940) note that this plant has an acrid and vesicant juice. Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) demonstrated the irritancy of the latex in a mouse ear irritancy assay.



Euphorbia piscatoria Aiton

Pammel (1911) lists this species as being irritant.



Euphorbia pithyusa L.

Pammel (1911) lists this species as being irritant.



Euphorbia platyphyllos L.

Pammel (1911) lists this species as being irritant.



Euphorbia plumerioides Teijsm.

The leaves are used as fish poison, purgative, and vermifuge in New Guinea (von Reis Altschul 1973).



Euphorbia poissonii Pax
Tinya

The latex is a powerful irritant. Either this or one of the other cactiform species is used in dehairing hides (Dalziel 1937).

The irritancy of the latex was demonstrated by Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) using a mouse ear irritancy assay. Resiniferatoxin and tinyatoxin, two of the most irritant compounds known, have been isolated from this species (Evans & Schmidt 1976) together with several 12-deoxyphorbol (Schmidt & Evans 1976, Schmidt & Evans 1977a, Schmidt & Evans 1978, Evans & Schmidt 1979b) and 12-deoxy-16-hydroxyphorbol esters (Schmidt & Evans 1977b).



Euphorbia polyacantha Boiss.

Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) demonstrated the irritancy of the latex in a mouse ear irritancy assay. The irritants of this species have been reported to be 12-deoxyphorbol esters (Evans & Kinghorn 1975b, 1977).



Euphorbia primulaefolia Baker

Pammel (1911) lists this species as being irritant. It has violently emetic properties (Uphof 1959).



Euphorbia pseudo-grantii Pax

Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) demonstrated the irritancy of the latex in a mouse ear irritancy assay, and subsequently reported the presence of ingenol esters in the plant (Evans & Kinghorn 1977).



Euphorbia pubescens Vahl

The plant is said to be very irritant (Pammel 1911).



Euphorbia pugniformis Boiss.
(syn. Euphorbia procumbens Mill.)

Pammel (1911) lists this species as being irritant. Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk (1962) note that the latex is violently emetic and purgative and seems undoubtedly to be highly irritant. These authors also refer to a report that Euphorbia procumbens has been used as a caustic on skin lesions.



Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd.
(syn. Poinsettia pulcherrima Graham)
Poinsettia, Flor de Pascua, Christmas Star, Mexican Flame Leaf, Lobster Plant

The plant is grown as a garden subject in Australia and Africa, and is cultivated for the Christmas trade as a houseplant in colder regions. The plant has small inconspicuous flowers, but attractive white, pink, or red bracts for which it is grown. Commercially grown cultivars are subjected to a strict short day regimen (an eight week period of no more than 10 hours of light in every 24 hours) and dwarfing chemicals to produce the short-stemmed, early winter flowering plants.

Brache & Aquino (1978) note that this species is among the 14 commoner causes of plant dermatitis in the Dominican Republic. According to Pammel (1911), Allen (1943), Morton (1958), Blohm (1962), Souder (1963), Aplin (1966), and Francis & Southcott (1967), the latex is irritant to the skin and eyes. It has been used as a depilatory in Mexico and Brazil (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962). Burkill (1935) notes that the latex has been reported to cause severe irritation in wounds, but that this has been stated to be quite unfounded. In a case reported by D'Arcy (1974), the eruption appeared about 24 hours after contact; allergy was suggested but patch tests were not recorded.

Patch tests were carried out with a young flowering greenhouse specimen by Camm EL & Mitchell JC (1974 — unpublished observation). Fresh latex, crushed flowers, and bruised leaves were applied by 48 hour closed patch tests to the forearms flexures of three healthy white volunteers. No irritant effect was observed. A similar result was obtained by Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) with the latex using a mouse ear irritancy assay.

Winek et al. (1979) studied the toxicology of poinsettia. They found the latex to be non-irritant to rabbit eyes; the diluted latex applied to rabbit skin produced mild irritation but if applied daily, produced moderate to severe dermatitis. Erythema and blistering was also produced following UV irradiation of areas treated with dilute latex. No skin sensitisation could be demonstrated in guinea pigs.

The latex of this species has given evidence of a sensitising capacity (Hausen & Schulz 1977b). Occupational contact dermatitis caused by Euphorbia pulcherrima in four floriculture workers was described by Santucci et al. (1983). Positive patch test reactions to the latex and to an aqueous extract of the leaves and latex were observed. Tests in controls were negative.



Euphorbia punicea Sw.

Pammel (1911) lists this species as being irritant.




Richard J. Schmidt [Valid HTML 4.01!]




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