Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Zygophyllum coccineum - A Guide to Medicinal Plants

Zygophyllum coccineum L.,

Sp. Pl.,ed.1,386 ( 1753 )


Arabic: Rutreyt, Kammun Kermany, Ghassoul, Balbal, Tartir, Bowa.

English: Zygophyllum

Morphological Description:
Low shrub, perennial herb or desert succulent undershrub, up to 75 cm high. Numerous stems, branched, erect, the young branches being green. Leaves 2-foliolate, over 10 mm long, cylindrical, bright green, glabrous, fleshy carried on a fleshy long petiole. Stipules broadly triangular, membranous. Flowers are solitary, axillary, white. Capsule 5-valved, 8-10mm long, with obtuse apex. The leaflets and sometimes the petioles are shed under severe dry conditions to reduce the transpiring surface. The fleshy cortex of the stem is shed under these same conditions.

Geographical Distribution:

Local: Arid zones of Egypt (Eastern and Western Desert and Sinai Peninsule).

Regional: Syria, Palestine and Sudan.

Global: South Africa, West Asia

Zygophyllum coccineum is the most widespread Zygophyllum species in Egypt and grows in diverse habitats and different soil types. The plant is very common in the limestone wadis and plains of the Eastern (Arabian) desert and tolerant of saline soils. It dominates a community of widespread occurrence there.

Part(s) Used:
Fruits and seeds

The fruits (seeds) are collected when the plant is in fruiting stage

Infusion, Extract


Zygophyllin (28% in leaves, 0.18% in stems and 0.26% in fruits). Quinovic acid (0.36% in leaves, 0.31% in fruits and 0.47% in stems). Flavonoids e.g, kaempfero1-3- rutinoside.

Pharmacological Action and Toxicity:
Aqueous extract of the plant is documented to produce a lowering in blood pressure, and acts as a diuretic and antipyretic, local anesthetic, with anti-histamine activity, stimulation and depression of isolated amphibian heart, relaxation of isolated intestine, contraction of uterus and vasodilation. The extract antagonized acetyl choline action on skeletal muscle, and acted additively to the muscle relaxant effect of d-tubocurarine.

Not available

Phytopharmaceutical Products:
Not available

Traditional Medicine and Indigenous Knowledge:
It is a plant of North Africa and Arabia.
Arabs use the aromatic seeds instead of pepper

Traditional Medicinal Uses:
• Rheumatism
• Gout
• Cough
• Asthma
• Hypertension
• Flatulent colic
• Diuretic

Other uses of the plant:
The juice from fresh leaves and stems is known to be used as an abrasive cleanser and as remedy for the treatment of
certain skin diseases.


Batanouny, K.H. and Ezzat, Nadia H. (1971). "Eco-physiological studies on desert plants. I. Autecology of Zygophyllum spscies growing in Egypt". Oecologia ( Berl. ), 7:170-183.

El-Moghazy, M.A (1957). "A comparative study of the common Egyption Zygophyllum species". Ph.D. thesis, Faculty of Pharmacy, Cairo University.

Elgamal, M.H.A., Shaker, K.H., pollmann, K. and Seifert, K.H. (1995). "Triterpenoid saponins from Zygophyllum species". Phytochemistry. 40(4): 233-1236.

Saad, S.F., Saber, A.H. and Scott, P.M (1967). "Pharmacological studies on Zygophyllum coccineum extract" . Bull. Fac.Pharm., Cairo
University 6(1): 245- 251.

Saad, S.F., Saber, A.H. and Scott, P.M. (1967). "Pharmacological studies on Zypophyllin and Quinovic Acid" . Bull Fac . Pharm Cairo Univ, 6(1): 253-263.

Saber, A.H. and El-Moghazi Shoaib, A.M. (1966). j. Pharm.Sci.U.A.R.7:117.

Saber, A.H.and El-Moghazy, M.A. (1960). J.Pharm.Sci.U.A.R. 2.

General References:
Batanouny, K. H., (1999). "Wild Medicinal Plants in Egypt". (With contribution of: E. Aboutabl, M. Shabana & F. Soliman). With support of the Swiss Development Co-operation (SDC). Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, Egypt. The World Conservation Union (IUCN), Switzerland. pp. 187-188.

Boulos, L. (2000). "Flora of Egypt", volume two, pp. 24, printed by Al Hadara Publishing, Cairo, Egypt.

Rizk, A.M and El-Ghazaly, G.A. (1995). "Medicinal and poisonous plants of Qatar", pp.229. Scientfic and Applied Research Center, University of Qatar.

Tackholm, Vivi., (1974). "Student`s Flora of Egypt". 2nd edition, Cairo University, Egypt.

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