1.1 Background of the Study
African mistletoe (Loranthus micranthus) is a hemiparasitic plant that belongs to the family Loranthaceae, commonly called mistletoe (Anslem, 2004). According to Judd et al., (2002), there are about 1400 species of Mistletoe around the world. Mistletoe belongs to Kingdom Plantae, subkingdom Tracheobionta, superdivision Spermatophyte, division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, subclass Rosidae, order Santals. There are six major general found in Nigeria which are: Tapinanthus, Agelanthus, Loranthus, Globimetula, Phragmanthera and Englerina. (Omolaja and Gamaye, 1998). In Nigeria, mistletoe is called ‗afomo‘in Yoruba, ‗apari‘ in Igbo, it is ‗kauci‘ in Hausa and ‗ndoro eyong in Efik. (Oluwole et al., 2013).
The parasitic plant has its root sunk into the branches and trunks of other trees such as Cocoa, Pear, Citrus, Kola, etc instead of the soil; the seeds need sunlight to germinate unlike most other plants (Anselm, 2008). According to Job, (1969), the leaves produce chlorophyll even in the darkness unlike other plants that turn yellowish when there is no light hence, the name evergreen.
The plant has been used for various medicinal purposes from ancient times, several studies show that it possesses a number of therapeutic applications in folk medicine in curing or managing of a wide range of diseases such as diabetes mellitus, chronic cramps, stroke, stomach problems, cancer, heart palpitation, to lower blood pressure, difficulties in breathing and hot flushing in menopause, arthritis, infertility, and pneumonia (Inuwa et al. (2012, Osadebe and Ukwueze, 2004; Adodo, 2006). The Presence of various phytochemicals such as glycosides, alkaloids, viscotoxins, phenylpropanoids, tannins, lignins, and sugars have been reported in the mistletoe collected from different host plants (Jurin, 1993). Generally, phytochemicals are naturally occurring compounds that have both stimulatory and inhibitory properties; they are bioactive and non – nutrient plant compounds with physiological action on the human body (Okwu, 2001).