- History and Culture
This is a shrub that can climb up to 6 m tall. The leaves of M. arcuata are opposite, elliptic to almost circular, dark green above, and paler, slightly velvety below. Its flowers are in dense panicles on short, pale yellow side branches with a bright orange star of down to the centre, which turns brown when ripe. Its fruit is ellipsoid to almost spherical marked at the top by the old calyx. The fruit turn dark or black when ripe.
Endemic to the Mascarene Islands M. arcuata is also widely distributed in Africa and Madagascar. It is found in intermediate forests and at higher altitudes. This species prefers open spaces to flourish but sometimes uses other plants as a support and can cover a surface of 5 m². The flowers are pollinated by birds and geckos. The plant produces many fruit that are dispersed by birds and seeds germinate naturally in the wild.
This is a species of ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN Red List, the plant is however protected under forest restoration projects and in nature reserves. The seeds are propagated in nurseries before being reintroduced into their natural environment. It can also be used in landscaping. There is a risk of population decline due to the invasion of exotic species.
When the ripe fruits fall to the ground, they look like chicken manure hence the vernacular name of "poo hen".
The species has medicinal properties against scabies, eczema, paralysis, athrepsia, diarrhea and fever.
The first sample of the plant was collected in 1797 by Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck, French naturalist.