Megistostegium nodulosum (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
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Megistostegium nodulosum (Drake) Hochr.


Protologue: Annuaire Conserv. Jard. Bot. Genève 18/19: 228 (1915).
Family: Malvaceae

Synonyms

  • Hibiscus nodulosus Drake (1903).

Origin and geographic distribution

Megistostegium nodulosum is endemic to Madagascar, where it is restricted to the southern part of the country.

Uses

The bark fibre of Megistostegium nodulosum is used for textiles. The strong wood is used as beams in house construction, for the production of charcoal for cooking and as a torch for fishing at night. Pegs are made from the wood for joining wood in boat building. The powdered bark is used for relieving eye ailments.

Properties

The leaves of Megistostegium nodulosum are rich in phenolics, whereas alkaloids are absent.

Botany

Small tree up to 8 m tall. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules filiform; petiole short; blade rounded, greyish green, up to 4 cm long, base cordate, margin entire or sparsely toothed towards the apex, both sides densely white pubescent, palmately veined at base, penninerved above. Flowers axillary, solitary, erect, bisexual, 5-merous; epicalyx bell-shaped, petal-like, red, thin; calyx of reduced sepals, fused at base; petals red, shorter than the involucre, not overlapping each other, at base fused to staminal column; stamens numerous, fused into a column, exerted, up to 5 cm long, curved; ovary superior, 5-locular, each locule with 2 ovules, style with 5 branches. Fruit a dry, globose capsule, dehiscent, locules 1-seeded.

Megistostegium nodulosum flowers throughout the year with peaks from November through mid-March and from August through September.

Megistostegium comprises 3 species endemic to Madagascar. The species partly overlap in distribution and hybridization seems to occur.

Ecology

Megistostegium nodulosum is restricted to sandy soils of the dry, deciduous scrublands of southern Madagascar and its coastline. It can tolerate high salt concentrations.

Genetic resources

Megistostegium nodulosum is relatively widely distributed and occurs inside three protected areas. Even so, its conservation status is classified as ‘Near Threatened’, as populations will become reduced in size as a result of its popularity as a source of timber, fuelwood and medicines. All species of the genus face threats, even within protected areas, from browsing goats and other livestock, by invasive plants that compete for available water (e.g. Opuntia spp.) and the (potential) extinction of pollinators.

Prospects

Measures to prevent genetic erosion of Megistostegium nodulosum and its congeners (in-situ and ex-situ conservation) should be considered. Research into husbandry measures for optimal use as an ornamental could be worthwhile.

Major references

  • Decary, R., 1946. Plantes et animaux utiles de Madagascar. Annales du Musée Colonial de Marseille, 54e année, 6e série, 4e volume, 1er et dernier fascicule. 234 pp.
  • Hochreutiner, B.P.G., 1955. Malvacées (Malvaceae). Flore de Madagascar et des Comores (plantes vasculaires), familles 129–130. Firmin-Didot et cie., Paris, France. 170 pp.
  • Koopman, M.M., 2011. A synopsis of the Malagasy endemic genus Megistostegium Hochr. (Hibisceae, Malvaceae). Adansonia, séries 3, 33 (1): 101–113.

Other references

  • Boiteau, P., Boiteau, M. & Allorge-Boiteau, L., 1999. Dictionnaire des noms malgaches de végétaux. 4 Volumes + Index des noms scientifiques avec leurs équivalents malgaches. Editions Alzieu, Grenoble, France.
  • Schatz, G.E., 2001. Generic tree flora of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 477 pp.
  • Simmen, B., Hladik, A., Ramasiarisoa, P.L., Iaconelli, S. & Hladik, C.M., 1999. Taste discrimination in lemurs and other primates, and the relationships to distribution of plant allelochemichals in different habitats of Madagascar. In: Rakotosamimanana, B., Rasamimanana, H., Ganzhorn, J.U. & Goodman, S.M. (Editors). New Directions in Lemur Studies. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Press, New York, United States. pp. 201–219.

Author(s)

  • C.H. Bosch, PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article

Bosch, C.H., 2011. Megistostegium nodulosum (Drake) Hochr. [Internet] Record from PROTA4U. Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. <http://www.prota4u.org/search.asp>.

Accessed 7 March 2020.