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NYCTAGINACEAE

(Four O'clock family)

 

• Medicinal / Folk-medicinal aspects: Several species are recorded as being used in poultices for application to bruises, swellings, boils, and abscesses. These uses possibly stem from a capacity of the plants to exert a mildly irritant effect when brought into contact with the skin. Other reports refer only in vague terms to topical use in the treatment of unspecified skin diseases. There is also an indication in the literature that some species contain a scabicide. •
• Adverse effects: Spines or thorns that can inflict mechanical injury are to be found on some species. •
• Veterinary aspects: At least one species has reportedly been used in traditional veterinary medicine as an externally-applied remedy for [unspecified] skin disease. •

Members of this family of 350 species of trees, shrubs, vines, and herbs in 27 families are found in tropical and warm temperate regions, especially in the Americas. The principal genera are Neea Ruíz & Pavón with about 70 species, Guapira Aublet with about 50 species, Mirabilis L. with about 60 species, Boerhavia L. (syn. Boerhaavia L.) with about 50 species, Pisonia L. with 40 species, and Abronia Juss. with 24 species (Mabberley 2008).

Numerous showy hybrids and cultivars of Bougainvillea Comm. ex Juss. are cultivated as ornamentals for the brightly coloured bracts that surround their flowers. The four o'clock plant, Mirabilis jalapa L., is also well known, being grown for its fragrant flowers which open in the late afternoon, hence its common name (Hunt 1968/70).



Boerhavia diffusa L.
(syns Boerhavia repens L. var diffusa Heimerl ex Hook.f., Boerhavia glabrata Blume)
Red Spiderling, Spreading Hogweed

[Information available but not yet included in database]



Boerhavia repens L.
(syns Boerhavia diffusa L. var minor Cufodontis, Boerhavia repens L. var minor Delile)
Spreading Hogweed

[Information available but not yet included in database]



Bougainvillea Comm. ex Juss.

[Information available but not yet included in database]



Bougainvillea glabra Choisy
(syn. Bougainvillea spectabilis Willd. var glabra Hook.)
Paper Flower, Purple Bougainvillea

[Information available but not yet included in database]



Bougainvillea spectabilis Willd.
Great Bougainvillea, Rose Bougainvillea

[Information available but not yet included in database]



Commicarpus chinensis Heimerl
(syns Boerhavia chinensis Rottb., Boerhavia repanda Willd., Valeriana chinensis L.)

[Information available but not yet included in database]



Commicarpus plumbagineus Standley
(syns Boerhavia commersonii Baillon, Boerhavia plumbaginea Cav., Commicarpus commersonii Cavaco)

[Information available but not yet included in database]



Mirabilis jalapa L.
Four O'clock Plant, False Jalap, Marvel of Peru, Clavillia, Maravilla

Nadkarni (1976) refers to several uses of this plant in Indian traditional medicine: the tuber is used to prepare a poultice for application to carbuncles; the bruised and heated leaves are used as a stimulating poultice to hasten the suppuration of boils, buboes, and abscesses; the powdered root, rubbed with water, is applied to contusions; the fresh leaf juice, externally applied, allays the heat and itching of urticaria and is also applied to wounds and bruises. Wallis (1967) noted that the powdered root when moistened and applied to the skin gives a burning sensation, a property recorded also by Der Marderosian (1966) and probably derived from Youngken (1940) who in addition reported the presence of calcium oxalate raphides in the root. von Reis Altschul (1973) found an herbarium note on a Central American collection of this plant stating that "maravilla" is ground up and used as a poultice to relieve bruises and strains.



Neea parviflora Poepp. & Endl.

[Information available but not yet included in database]



Phaeoptilum spinosum Radlk.
(syn. Amphoranthus spinosus S.Moore)
Brittle Thorn, Flügelfruchtstrauch

[Information available but not yet included in database]



Pisonia aculeata L.
(syns Pallavia aculeata Vell., Pisonia grandifolia Standley)
Cockspur, Fingrigo, Pullback, Pull-and-Hold-Back, Black Thorn, Wild Bougainvillea

[Information available but not yet included in database]



Pisonia longirostris Teijsm. & Binnend.

[Information available but not yet included in database]



Pisonia umbellifera Seem.
(syns Ceodes umbellifera J.R.Forst. & G.Forst., Pisonia alba Span., Pisonia excelsa Blume, Pisonia morindifolia L.)
Lettuce Tree, Umbrella Catchbird Tree

[Information available but not yet included in database]


References

  • Der Marderosian A (1966) Poisonous plants in and around the home. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education 30(1): 115-140
  • Hunt P (Ed.) (1968/70) The Marshall Cavendish Encyclopedia of Gardening. London: Marshall Cavendish [WorldCat]
  • Mabberley DJ (2008) Mabberley's Plant-Book. A portable dictionary of plants, their classification and uses, 3rd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press [WorldCat]
  • Nadkarni AK (1976) Dr. K. M. Nadkarni's Indian Materia Medica. With ayurvedic, unani-tibbi, siddha, allopathic, homeopathic, naturopathic & home remedies, appendices & indexes, Revised enlarged and reprinted 3rd edn, Vols 1 & 2. Bombay: Popular Prakashan [WorldCat] [url]
  • von Reis Altschul S (1973) Drugs and Foods from Little-Known Plants. Notes in Harvard University Herbaria. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Wallis TE (1967) Textbook of Pharmacognosy, 5th edn. London: J & A Churchill [WorldCat]
  • Youngken HW (1940) A recent substitute for jalap. Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association (Scientific edn) 29(2~3): 62-65 [doi] [url] [url-2]
  • [ + 12 further references not yet included in database]



Richard J. Schmidt

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