TERMINALIA SERICEA GENERAL DESCRIPTION Scientific name with author Terminalia sericea Burch. ex DC. Plant photo – live plant Synonyms Terminalis angolensis O.Hoffm.; Terminalia fischerii Engl.; Terminalia nyassensis Engl.; Terminalia brosigiana Engl. & Diels; Terminalia velutina Rolfe; Terminalia bubu De Wild. Family Combretaceae Vernacular/ traditional/ regional names Vaalboom, silwerboom, bloubos, bosvaal, sandvolbos (Afrikaans); silver cluster-leaf, silver terminalia (English); umangwe (Ndebele); mangwe, mukonono, mususu, mutabvu (Shona); mususu (Venda); amangwe (Zulu) Botanical description Terminalia sericea is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree which usually grows about 5-8 metres high. It has an erect trunk and a wide spreading crown. T. sericea has reddish-brown branches. The leaves are crowded at the ends of branches, narrowly obovate-elliptic with smooth margins, blue-green above, paler below, densely covered in silvery hairs. The blue-silvery leaves make it very easy to identify. It flowers mostly in September–January. The flowers are in axillary spikes and are pale yellow to creamy white. Flowers have an unpleasant smell. The fruit is an oval nut surrounded by two broad papery flat wings. The fruits are often parasitized and form deformed masses of thin round galls. Terminalia species are closely related to Combretum species but the latter have four or more wings on the fruit. Reference South African National Biodiversity Institute. (2012). Terminalia sericea Burch. ex DC. bhttp://www.plantzafrica.com/planttuv/terminaliasericea.htm Geographical distribution T. sericea occurs on sandy soil in the savannah areas in northern South Africa. Distribution map ETHNOBOTANICAL INFORMATION Medicinal uses T. sericea is important in traditional medicine. Root decoctions and infusions are used in traditional medicine to treat venereal diseases, diarrhoea, dysentery, colic, pneumonia, cough, skin diseases, schistosomiasis, gonorrhoea and problems with menstruation, and applied as an eye wash to treat trachoma and ophthalmia. Roots are also used as an emetic. Pulverized bark is applied externally to wounds. Ground bark is also eaten mixed with mealie meal to treat diabetes. Leaf extracts serve to treat diarrhoea and stomach complaints, and a leaf infusion taken to treat cough. Pulverized leaves are applied as a dressing to wounds. In case of bleeding, a paste can be made by cooking the leaves in water and placing them on the wounds. Use of dried fruit for tuberculosis is also recorded. References Nkobole, N.K. (2009). Antidiabetic activity of pentacyclic triterpenes and flavonoids isolated from stem bark of Terminalia sericea Burch. Ex DC. Thesis, University of Pretoria, South Africa. Pujol, J. (1990). Naturafrica – the herbalist handbook. Jean Pujol Natural Healers’ Foundation, Durban. Watt, J.M. and Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G. (1962). The medicinal and poisonous plants of southern and eastern Africa. 2nd ed. Livingstone, London. QUALITY STANDARDS Macroscopial Deciduous shrub or small to medium-sized tree, usually up to 8 metres tall; bole straight or crooked, up to 50(–100) cm in diameter; bark surface cream-coloured to grey-brown, deeply grooved; crown layered, with horizontal branches; branchlets red-brown to purplish, with peeling bark, silky hairy when young. Leaves arranged spirally, clustered near ends of branchlets, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole up to 1.5 cm long; blade narrowly elliptical-obovate, 5–13 cm × 1–4.5 cm, cuneate at base, rounded to shortacuminate at apex, silvery silky hairy especially when young, pinnately veined with 5–8(–13) pairs of indistinct lateral veins. Inflorescence an axillary spike 5–12 cm long, densely silky hairy; peduncle 2.5–5 cm long. Flowers bisexual or male, regular, 4–5-merous, greenish white; receptacle spindle-shaped, c. 5 mm long; sepals triangular, c. 2 mm long; petals absent; stamens usually 10, free, c. 4 mm long; disk annular, hairy; ovary inferior, 1-celled, style 3–5 mm long. Fruit a winged nut, broadly elliptical in outline, 3–4 cm × 1.5–2.5 cm including the wing, stipe up to 0.5 cm long, pinkish or purplish brown, finely hairy, indehiscent, 1-seeded. T. sericea grows slowly. Annual elongation of the bole results in a layered crown. Flowers develop together with young leaves, usually in September–November. The flowers have a strong and unpleasant smell, and are probably pollinated by flies. Fruits ripen 3–5 months after flowering, but they may remain on the tree for up to 1 year. Reference Lemmens, R.H.M.J. (2009). Terminalia sericea Burch. ex DC. In: Lemmens, R.H.M.J., Louppe, D. & OtengAmoako, A.A. (Eds.). Prota 7(2): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 2. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands. http://database.prota.org/PROTAhtml/Terminalia%20sericea_En.htm Microscopial CHEMICAL CONSTITUENTS Chemical constituents – compounds diagrams Chemical constituents – compounds description Anolignan B is the main bioactive compound isolated from the roots. Several pentacyclic triterpenoids, of which sericic acid and sericoside are the major constituents, have been isolated in roots. Roots also contain hydroxystilbene glycoside, the triterpenoid arjunglucoside, termilignan B and arjunic acid. A stilbene glycoside, resveratrol-3-O-β-rutinoside, and resveratrol have been isolated from an ethanol extract of the root bark. Terminoic acid has been isolated as one of the antibacterial compounds from leaves. Nerifolin, a glycoside, has been isolated from the tree. Galls have been found to contain 10.2% tanning matter. Gum polysaccharides contain galacturonic, glucuronic and 4-0-methylglucuronic acids and galactose, arabinose, rhamnose and xylose. References Hutchings, A., Scott, A.H., Lewis, G. and Cunningham, A.B. (1996). Zulu Medicinal Plants: an inventory. Natal University Press, Pietermaritzburg. Kruger, J.P. (2008). Isolation, chemical characterization and clinical application of an antibacterial compound from Terminalia sericea. Ph.D. thesis, University of Pretoria, South Africa. Chemical constituents – organoleptic properties The flowers have a strong and unpleasant smell. Root decoctions taste very bitter. Chemical constituents – TLC / HPLC / GC Chemical constituents – NIR Spectroscopy image Chemical constituents – NIR The triterpenoids sericoside and arjunglucoside have been isolated from the roots and stem bark without any biological assays. Terminoic acid was isolated as one of the antibacterial compounds from leaves, and anolignan B from the roots. A stilbene glycoside, resveratrol-3-O-β-rutinoside, and resveratrol have been isolated from an ethanol extract of the root bark. Purity tests / Requirements TLC, HPLC and GC are used. Assay Not yet available. USAGE Plant part used The roots are mainly used, sometimes also the stem bark and leaves. Plant part used photograph Dosage forms Pharmacology/ bioactivity Anolignan B is a bioactive compound isolated from the roots. It showed activity against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, as well as anti-inflammatory activity. Root extracts showed significant antiHIV-1 properties. Root extracts are particularly active against the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes and against the fungi Candida albicans, Candida glabrata and Cryptococcus neoformans. The triterpenoids and saponins are well known for their antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activity. The pentacyclic triterpenoid sericic acid has been isolated from the roots, as well as its glycoside sericoside. Root extracts and sericic acid have anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties, and showed antibacterial and antifungal activities. Sericoside has anti-inflammatory activity, whereas strong lipolytic activity has also been suggested. The results from tests support the ethnomedical use of the roots. However, caution is needed because in Tanzania several cases of death after application of root extracts have been recorded. In tests root extracts were toxic to brine shrimps. Root extracts showed strong cytotoxic effects against several human cancer cell lines. Sericic acid and sericoside have shown anti-ulcer, anti-inflammatory and cicatrising activity. Nerifolin, a glycoside isolated from the tree, inhibits fibroblastic outgrowth in aneural explanted heart tissue in vitro and inhibits the pulsation rate in a dilution of 1:700 or higher. Methanol extracts of the leaves showed strong in-vitro activity against HIV-1 reverse transcriptase. The anti-diarrhoeal effects may be due to tannins. Roots are reputed to be poisonous. Potential known toxins include tannic acid, saponin and hydrocyanic acid. References Eldeen, I.M.S., Elgorashi, E.E., Mulholland, D.A. and van Staden, J. (2006). Anolignan B: A bioactive compound from the roots of Terminalia sericea. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 103(1):135-138. Hutchings, A., Scott, A.H., Lewis, G. and Cunningham, A.B. (1996). Zulu Medicinal Plants: an inventory. Natal University Press, Pietermaritzburg. Kruger, J.P. (2008). Isolation, chemical characterization and clinical application of an antibacterial compound from Terminalia sericea. Ph.D. thesis, University of Pretoria, South Africa. Masoko, P. (2007). Characterization of antifungal compounds isolated from Combretum and Terminalia species (Combretaceae).Thesis, University of Pretoria, South Africa. Nkobole, N.K. (2009). Antidiabetic activity of pentacyclic triterpenes and flavonoids isolated from stem bark of Terminalia sericea Burch. Ex DC. Thesis, University of Pretoria, South Africa. Contraindications Adverse reactions Roots are reputed to be poisonous. Reference Watt, J.M. and Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G. (1962). The medicinal and poisonous plants of southern and eastern Africa. 2nd ed. Livingstone, London. Precautions Dosage and preparation Traditionally, root decoctions and infusions are taken orally and applied externally. Hot water decoctions of the roots are used for diarrhoea, and to relieve colic pains. Roots steeped in water for 1 hour are used for trachoma. A tea is made from roots for skin diseases and coughs. Enemas of root decoctions are used for menstrual cramps. For headaches and general body weakness, root is powdered and swallowed with food. For pneumonia roots are boiled in water for a hot fomentation. The powdered root bark is taken with maize meal for diabetes. Leaf infusions are used for chest ailments and diarrhoea. Stem bark or leaves are applied externally to wounds and burns. In case of bleeding, a paste can be made by cooking the leaves in water and placing them on the wounds. References Hutchings, A., Scott, A.H., Lewis, G. and Cunningham, A.B. (1996). Zulu Medicinal Plants: an inventory. Natal University Press, Pietermaritzburg. Watt, J.M. and Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G. (1962). The medicinal and poisonous plants of southern and eastern Africa. 2nd ed. Livingstone, London. Source References Brendler, T., Eloff, J.N., Guri-Fakim, A. and Phillips, L.D. eds. (2010). African herbal pharmacopoeia. Association for African Medicinal Plants Standards, Mauritius. Van Wyk, B-E., van Oudtshoorn, B. and Gericke, N. (2009). Medicinal plants of South Africa. 2nd ed. Briza, Pretoria.
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