African Smell Potato

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Scientific name: Phyllanthus reticulatus.

English Name: Potato plant, potato smell

Local Name: NA

General Information


Monoecious, deciduous, much-branched shrub or small tree up to 5(–10) m tall; bole up to 25 cm in diameter; bark pale reddish brown, longitudinally fissured; branches slender, spreading and drooping almost to the ground, pale grey or brownish white, lateral leafy shoots up to 25 cm long. It is widespread in the Old World tropics, from tropical Africa to India, China and South-East Asia, and south to Queensland (northern Australia).


Health Benefits


Sap from the stem is used as eye drops to cure conjunctivitis and soreness. powdered leaves  can be used to heal  sores, including venereal sores, burns, suppurations and chafes. In Tanzania crushed leaves are rubbed on the body of malaria patients. In Sudan and southern Africa the leaves and bark are reputed to be diuretic and cooling. In other places such as Zanzibar  the plant is considered a remedy for anaemia and intestinal haemorrhage. Sap from pounded roots is used as ear drops to treat ear infections A decoction of the roots is drunk against dysmenorrhoea and to increase fertility. It is also taken to treat abscesses, general pain or spasms, and is used as a purgative and as part of treatment against hookworm. In India the powdered leaves are pounded with cubebs (Piper cubeba L.) and camphor into tablets for sucking against bleeding gums; the leaves are also used in the treatment of diabetes. The stem and leaves are rubbed on the chest against asthma; a leaf decoction is drunk to treat a sore throat, against snakebites, mental problems and diarrhoea.

 

Livestock Benefits

The foliage and young shoots are browsed by all livestock,

Human Benefits

The red or black dye  obtained from the fruit, bark and roots; is used for tanning and dyeing fishing lines and nets. Stems are used in Nigeria as roof binders. Twigs are widely used as chew sticks. The wood is suitable for local construction and as firewood or tinder; it produces charcoal of good quality. Often traded  as sour grapes and may be occasionally eaten as emergency foods in Africa. The plant has been used in trials to remove heavy metals from contaminated soil. The root bark, stem bark and leaves are collected and traded in African local markets.

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