1.1 BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Maytenus senegalensis (Lam) excel is an African shrubs or trees that go under the common name of Red spike-thorn, which belong to the celastraccae family. Maytenus is one of the most frequently used specie of the Maytenus Molina genus in the African traditional medicine (along with M. Obscura, M. peduncularis, M. putterlichwides, M. serrata and M. endata) (Novinger 2011).
More specifically Maytenus senegalensis is traditionally used as anti microbial and anti inflammatory agents i:e. it is used to treat respiratory ailments and inflammation. The use of this anti inflammatory herbal drug is also common in other African countries like Benin, Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Senegal and Zimbabwe. Maytenus senegalensis leaves are also used to treat toothaches in India (Gurib and Muller, 2006).
In Zulu territories and Mozambique the leaves of Maytenus senegalensis are macerated in water to be consumed twice a day for the treatment of tuberculosis.
Recently, the anti-inflammatory activities of Maytenus senegalensis ethanol extract (70%) were determined in Westar albino rats by the carrageenan-induced paw edema method. These extracts exhibited significant anti-inflammatory activity (120mg/kg, per os), reducing edema by 51% and 35% respectively. (INatse.Bio/med 2011)
1.2 ORIGIN OF MAYTENUS SENEGALENSIS
The origin of Maytenus senegalensis can be traced back to South Africa, from the family celastraccae or confetti tree.
1.2.1 CULTIVATION OF MAYTENUS SENEGALENSIS
The plant does not show a specific preference for a particular soil type. It is more easily found where it grows in groups. It also prefers a well drained humus rich fertile soil (Huxley, 1992). It tolerates floods, heavy wind or stagnant water. It is reported to have tolerated an animal precipitation. Maytenus senegalensis is mainly cultivated in East coast of Africa, Afghanistan, Indian and Arabia it is best suited to tropical climates with a well distributed rainfall of 1500 – 2000mm yearly from sea level to about 600mm altitude (Duke 1983). Maytenus senegalensis tolerates warmer and more insipid climate than Amona senegalensis.
1.2.2 CLIMATIC CONDITION OF MAYTENUS SENEGALENSIS
Celastraceae is a large family comprising trees, shrubs and woody lianas with a Gondwanan distribution (Simmons et al 2001). Geographically Maytenus senegalensisis apparently confined from Ethiopia; westward to Angola Maytenus senegalensis occupies a wide variety of habitats, from deciduous woodland, Hucket, sarab and woody grassland and also on river band and swamp margins.
1.2.3 BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION
The Celastraceae classification at the generic level has undergone changes. As currently circumscribed, the genus Maytenus Molina, even after the reinstatement of Gumnosporia is still clearly a heterogeneous group of species, a view also supported by other authors (Rogers et al 1999) Maytenus senegalensis is an evergreen shrub tree or more rarely a shrublet, often straggling which grows up to 1m high, charmed or with green to brown spines up to 24cm long glabrous or very rarely with young branches lined or angular. The lamina of Maytenus senegalensis is a pale to deep green with a pale mudrib petiole up to 10mm long. Spathilated, oblanceolated to ovated or elliptic margins up to 9.5cm and 5cm.
The flowers are dioecious, unscented with peduncle 1-30mm long, pectical up to 7mm, circular to triangular lanceolate sepals (Hutchings et al. 1996).
It has an untidy sparse, multi-stemmed evergreen shrub;it branches into many long, thin whitish-grey branchlets and twigs that curve down, with grey-green leaves towards the tips.
The flowers bloom in dense, short racemes between the leaves (May/June). The capsule is reddish, glubsoid or pyriform, 2-6mm long, ovary 2-3 locular, smooth. Reddish-brown 1-2 seeds, glossy with a fleshy smooth rose-pink in yellowish arid obliquely covering the lower (Fabricant et al. 2001)