Elaeocarpus sphaericus Gaertn K

[From Greek, elaion = oil and karpos = fruit, and from Latin, sphaericus = spherical]

Common names: Bead tree of India, ustram bead tree; rudraksha (Sanskrit).

Physical description: It is a tree which grows to a height of 15 m in India, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and the Pacific Islands. The stems are terete, brownish, lenticelled, smooth and glabrous, and the wood is whitish. Leaves: simple, spiral and without stipules. The petiole is 1.2 cm- 1.4 cm long and channeled. The blade is 9 cm x 3 cm-6.7cmx 1,8 cm, rigid and elliptic-spathulate. The margin is serrate and obscurely recurved. The apex of the blade is acute and the base is tapered. The midrib is flat above and raised below, and the blade shows 10-13 pairs of secondary nerves arching at

Fig. 97. Elaeocarpus sphaericus (Gaertn.) K. Sch. From: KLU Herbarium 005812. Flora of the Mariana Islands. College of Guam Herbarium. Field collector: Benjamin C Stone & J Long, 1 May 1964. Botanical identification: Benjamin C Stone 1968. Geographical localization Summit of Barridaga Hill, approx. 900 feet, limestone forest.

Fig. 97. Elaeocarpus sphaericus (Gaertn.) K. Sch. From: KLU Herbarium 005812. Flora of the Mariana Islands. College of Guam Herbarium. Field collector: Benjamin C Stone & J Long, 1 May 1964. Botanical identification: Benjamin C Stone 1968. Geographical localization Summit of Barridaga Hill, approx. 900 feet, limestone forest.

the margin. The inflorescences are axillary, 4cm-6.4cm long racemes. The flower pedicels are 1.1 cm-1.3cm long, thin and hairy. The flowers are numerous and fragrant. The calyx comprises of 5 caducous, linear, 1 cm long and hairy sepals. The corolla consists of 5, 1.7 cm x 2 mm, free, white, petals, the apex of which is 5-toothed, each tooth being 5.5 mm long and 3-fid. The ovary is velvety, globose and 2.5 mm in diameter, and develops upwards into a 1 cm long hairy style. The fruits are 2.5 cm in diameter, globose, purple and glossy drupes (Fig. 97).

Pharmaceutical interest: Extracts of the fruits (50 mg/Kg-200 mg/Kg i.p, or 200 mg/Kg, peros) show significant anti-inflammatory, analgesic, barbiturate-hypnosis potentiation and antiulcerogenic activities in rats and protect guinea-pigs against the bronchospasm induced by histamine and acetylcholine aerosols (Singh et al., 2000) through stabilization of the release of autacoids from mesenteric mast cells, substantiating

Uses: In India, the dried fruits of Elaeocarpus sphaericus (Gaertn.) K. Sch. are made into buttons and beads by the devotees of Siva, who believe "the beads to be Siva's tears of rage at the effrontery of mankind". The fruits are used to treat mental diseases, epilepsy, asthma, hypertension, arthritis, and liver diseases. In the Philippines, the bark is used to treat splenomegaly.

the efficacy of the plant against bronchial asthma (Singh RK et al, 2000a). An acetone fraction of Elaeocarpus sphaericus displays a marked antimicrobial property (Singh RK et al, 1999). A fraction of mixed fatty acids of Elaeocarpus ganitrus Roxb. inhibits experimentally-induced convulsion (Dasgupta A et al, 1984). It will be interesting to know whether further research on this tree results in the discovery of neuroactive molecules.

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