1James, O. E., 1Green, B.O., *1Ajuru, M.G., 1Wilson, V.
Medicinal plants, which are valued assets and local heritage to any country, are necessary to be collected, preserved, characterized, scientifically analyzed and used in treating different diseases of humans and animals. A lot of important medicinal plants from different parts of the world have not been indexed, characterized and tested for their medicinal values. To avoid adulteration, proper scientific characterization of specific plant parts of each is important. Members of the family Euphorbiaceae are seen as one of the top twenty-five economically important plants, existing in different variety of forms which has great ethnomedicinal value. Based on the medicinal importance of the family Euphorbiaceae, seven species were selected for study from four genera which includes: genus Acalypha – A. hispidia and A. wilkesiana, genus Euphorbia – E. heterophylla and E. hirta, genus Jatropha – J. curcas and J. gossipifolia and the genus Manihot – M. esculenta. The main aim of this research was to taxonomically characterize and validate the classification of selected members of the family Euphorbiaceae by looking at the anatomical features of the transverse sections of the leaves using light microscopy. Results from the leaf anatomical study showed that they all have a uniseriate epidermis with small intercellular spaces. Cortical tissue of all species studied was found to be made up of collenchyma and parenchyma cells. Variations were however observed in midrib shape, arrangement, number, nature and shape of vascular bundles as well as in the presence or absence of trichomes etc. The standardized anatomical characters assisted in the detection and diagnosis of the particular medicinal plants species.
Keywords: Acalypha, Anatomy, Euphorbia, Euphorbiaceae, Jatropha, Manihot, Medicinal plants.