There has been considerable dispute about whether Ochrosia and Neisosperma are distinct genera. We are following the treatment by Hendrian in Revision of Ochrosia (Apocynaceae) in Malesia; Blumea 49: pp 101-128; 2004 - here they are treated as two sections of the genus Ochrosia[
Cerbera borbonica (J.F.Gmel.) Spreng.
Cerbera maculata (Jacq.) Willd.
Cerbera undulata Andrews
Chassalia clusiifolia DC.
Coffea clusiifolia (DC.) D.Dietr.
Diderota amphicarpa Comm. ex A.DC.
Lactaria borbonica (J.F.Gmel.) Koidz.
Lactaria maculata (Jacq.) Kuntze
Ochrosia maculata Jacq.
Ochrosia undulata Bojer
Ophioxylon ochrosia Pers.
Rauvolfia striata Poir.
Tabernaemontana obtusa Sm.
Tanghinia maculata (Jacq.) G.Don
Ochrosia borbonica is a tree that can grow up to 15 metres tall. The bole can be up to 40cm in diameter, containing a white latex[
The plant is a popular and commonly used medicinal plant in Mauritius and Réunion, where it is commonly harvested from the wild for local use. It also provides a useful timber[
]. This species is said to be cultivated for its medicinal use in China, However, the identity of Ochrosia borbonica is somewhat doubtful[
Less than 50 individuals are known on Mauritius. The species is also rare and scattered in forests on Réunion. The plant is currently classified as 'Endangered' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013), though more information may indicate 'Critically Endangered' is a more appropriate category[
Although we have no specific records of toxicity, it is worth noting that the sap of several species in this genus is toxic[
Africa - Mauritius, Réunion.
Forests, at elevations up to 1,250 metres[
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The plant usually flowers virtually throughout the year[
The fruits float with their thick fibrous mesocarp and are dispersed by sea currents. Likewise, the seeds float because of cavities in the endocarp. The seeds germinate readily when washed ashore[
Natural regeneration of Ochrosia borbonica is very slow. It is also often not more than a shrub in the semi-arid vegetation[
A small piece of the bitter-tasting bark is boiled and the decoction is sweetened with honey and is drunk to treat loss of appetite, hypotension and constipation, and to reduce fever in conditions that include malaria[
]. The bark, soaked in wine, is taken daily to purify the blood; the bark[
]. Soaked in rum or water, it is taken before meals to reduce stomach cramps[
]. The bark, boiled with the leaves, is taken to treat fever. It is also widely taken as a tonic and stomachic and is applied against stomach cramps, as a bath or drink[
, 605. It is also used against childhood eczema, which is locally known as 'tambave'[
Research on active constituents in Ochrosia has focused on anticancer compounds following the isolation of the indole alkaloids ellipticine, elliptinine, 9-methoxy-ellipticine and isoreserpiline from the Asian species Ochrosia elliptica[
Many Ochrosia species have since been subject to investigation of their alkaloid content, and the production of ellipticine in in-vitro grown callus from Ochrosia elliptica has been successful[
The bark of Ochrosia borbonica is rich in indole alkaloids and contains mainly ellipticine, 9-methoxy-ellipticine, reserpiline and isoreserpiline. Ellipticine and 9-methoxy-ellipticine show antitumour properties, but also disturb biological membranes, which makes their utilization in medicines impossible[
]. Semisynthetic derivatives show higher activities against cancer cells and are less toxic. So far, only one ellipticine derivative, celiptium® (N-methyl-9-hydroxy-ellipticine, as acetate salt) has been introduced onto the market for treatment of metastatic breast cancer. This drug also shows significant activity against several leukaemia and melanoma cell lines. Ellipticine derivatives and analogues are also reversible non-competitive inhibitors of cholinesterases and interact with muscarine receptors[
The ellipticine derivative hydroxy-methyl-ellipticine shows strong antiviral activities and is being extensively screened in clinical anti-Aids treatments[
A white latex is obtained from the bole[
]. No uses are mentioned.
The wood has been used as timber for making household utensils[
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