Acacia kamerunensis (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
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Acacia kamerunensis Gand.


Protologue: Bull. Soc. Bot. France 60: 459 (1913).
Family: Mimosaceae (Leguminosae - Mimosoideae)

Synonyms

  • Acacia pennata sensu auct. p.p.

Origin and geographic distribution

Acacia kamerunensis is distributed from Sierra Leone eastwards to Sudan and Uganda.

Uses

The stem yields a strong fibre widely used for cordage and fishing gear. In Ghana the fibre is made into mats for drying cocoa beans. Children use it for making whips for spinning tops. The lianas are used for tying, often 2 or more twisted to increase strength. The interior part of the stem is used as a tooth-brush and the roots serve as chew-sticks. In southern Ghana the roots are among the 3 most traded and popular chew-sticks. The fibres are relatively soft and the use of Acacia kamerunensis roots as chew-sticks is especially popular with children and the elderly. The pods contain tannin and are used in Ghana for tanning leather. The leaves are browsed by livestock.

In traditional medicine in Ghana the dried leaves are ground, boiled in water and drunk as a cure for measles. The pulverized dried leaves are used for dressing wounds. The root bark or the whole root is pulverized and dissolved in palm-wine and a woollen plug is soaked in the liquid and inserted in a carious tooth to ease the pain. Leaf sap is applied as a liniment to treat skin diseases and affections including parasites. A decoction of the leaves is used as a bath or is drunk to bring down fever. The root boiled with flour serves as an aphrodisiac. In Nigeria it is recommended to a tense, nervous person to boil the leaves and drink the liquid every morning. In Cameroon the leaves are used to cure gastric ulcers and to relieve pain in the hip. In Ghana the leafy twigs are used as a fish-poison, and in Côte d’Ivoire the leaves are used for this purpose.

Properties

The butanolic fraction of leaf extracts has shown in-vivo analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity in mice and rats, which may be due to the presence of various flavonoids (isovitexin and pyranosides of quercetin, apigenin and isorhamnetin).

Description

Liana or scandent shrub to over 5 m tall; bark rough, with longitudinal bands with downward curved prickles, grey, younger stems yellow-brown, soft short hairy to almost glabrous. Leaves alternate, bipinnately compound, with 10–30 pairs of pinnae; stipules not spinescent, up to 5 mm × 1 mm, soon falling; petiole 1.5–3.5 cm long, with gland near the base; rachis 3–13 cm long, with glands at the base of top few pairs only; leaflets in 28–80 pairs per pinna, linear, c. 7 mm × 2 mm, midrib excentric at base, apex obtuse or subacute, glabrous or almost so. Inflorescence a globose head 4–8 mm in diameter, arranged in panicles, peduncle 3–15 mm long, with a pair of small bracts at the base. Flowers bisexual, 4–6-merous, yellowish-white; calyx up to 2.5 mm long, without glands, glabrous or shortly pubescent; corolla 2–3 mm long, lobes c. 0.5 mm long; stamens numerous, free, up to 5 mm long; ovary superior, style c. 4 mm long. Fruit an oblong, flattened, leathery pod, 8–14 cm × 1.5–3 cm, straight, margins entire, 1–1.5 mm thick, brown or pale brown, dehiscent. Seeds elliptical in outline, flattened, 4.5 mm × 1.5–2.5 mm, dark brown.

Other botanical information

Acacia is a large pantropical genus, comprising more than 1300 species; most of them are found in Australia (more than 900), more than 200 in America, and about 130 in Africa. Acacia kamerunensis is one of c. 13 species belonging to the so-called Acacia pennata complex. These species have primitive features like a scrambling or climbing habit and they lack nodulation. Unlike other members of the subgenus Aculeiferum, inflorescences in this group are globose rather than spicate. The name Acacia pennata (L.) Willd. has been used for all 13 African scrambling and climbing members of the genus whereas the name is considered to apply only to a species restricted to South-East Asia. Especially in the ethnobotanical literature of tropical Africa it is often impossible to link uses of ‘Acacia pennata’ to the correct species name.

Growth and development

The combination of circumnutation and thorns enables Acacia kamerunensis to climb in and attach to trees.

Ecology

Acacia kamerunensis is a species of lowland rain-forest and secondary forest. In Uganda it occurs up to 1450 m altitude.

Propagation and planting

The 1000-seed weight is c. 58 g, but no information has been published on multiplication of Acacia kamerunensis.

Management

In forest regeneration Acacia kamerunensis reduces the establishment and growth of valuable timber tree species such as Khaya anthotheca Heckel and Nauclea diderrichii (De Wild. & T.Durand) Merr. Measures should therefore be taken to control the liana and promote growth of the trees.

Genetic resources

The most popular and widely traded chew-sticks in West Africa are obtained from Garcinia afzelii Engl. and other species of the genus. The huge demand for Garcinia afzelii chew-sticks endangers supply and results in price increases. This situation also results in an increased demand for Acacia kamerunensis chew-sticks, and wild populations of Acacia kamerunensis may eventually be threatened.

Prospects

Developing protocols for the sustainable harvest of Acacia kamerunensis would ensure that it can continue to be traded profitably as chew-sticks. Phytochemistry of material of well-identified species of the Acacia pennata group could give a sound understanding of medicinal uses.

Major references

  • Abbiw, D.K., 1990. Useful plants of Ghana: West African uses of wild and cultivated plants. Intermediate Technology Publications, London and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 337 pp.
  • Brenan, J.P.M. & Exell, A.W., 1957. Acacia pennata (L.) Willd. and its relatives in tropical Africa. Boletim da Sociedade Broteriana, Série 2, 31: 99–141.
  • Burkill, H.M., 1995. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 3, Families J–L. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 857 pp.
  • Hawthorne, W. & Jongkind, C., 2006. Woody plants of western African forests: a guide to the forest trees, shrubs and lianes from Senegal to Ghana. Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 1023 pp.
  • Nacro, M. & Millogo-Rasolodimbi, J., 1993. Plantes tinctoriales et plantes à tanins du Burkina Faso. Editions ScientifikA, Amiens, France. 152 pp.
  • Ross, J.H., 1979. A conspectus of the African Acacia species. Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa No 44. 155 pp.
  • Timberlake, J., Fagg, C. & Barnes, R., 1999. Field guide to the Acacias of Zimbabwe. CBC Publishing, Harare, Zimbabwe. 160 pp.

Other references

  • Addo-Fordjour, P., Anning, A.K., Belford, E.J.D. & Akonnor, D., 2008. Diversity and conservation of medicinal plants in the Bomaa community of the Brong Ahafo region, Ghana. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research 2(9): 226–233.
  • Adjanohoun, E.J., Adjakidjè, V., Ahyi, M.R.A., Aké Assi, L., Akoègninou, A., d’Almeida, J., Apovo, F., Boukef, K., Chadare, M., Cusset, G., Dramane, K., Eyme, J., Gassita, J.N., Gbaguidi, N., Goudote, E., Guinko, S., Houngnon, P., Lo, I., Keita, A., Kiniffo, H.V., Kone-Bamba, D., Musampa Nseyya, A., Saadou, M., Sodogandji, T., De Souza, S., Tchabi, A., Zinsou Dossa, C. & Zohoun, T., 1989. Contribution aux études ethnobotaniques et floristiques en République Populaire du Bénin. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 895 pp.
  • AduTutu, M., Afful, Y., Asante-Appiah, K., Lieberman, D., Hall, J.B. & Elvin-Lewis, M., 1979. Chewing stick usage in Southern Ghana. Economic Botany 33(3): 320–328.
  • Arbonnier, M., 2000. Arbres, arbustes et lianes des zones sèches d’Afrique de l’Ouest. CIRAD, MNHN, UICN. 541 pp.
  • Blay, D., 2004. Dental hygiene and livelihoods: a case of chewing sticks in Ghana. In: Sunderland, T. & Ndoye, O. (Editors). Forest products, livelihoods and conservation: case studies of non-timber forest product systems. Volume 2 Africa. CIFOR, Jakarta, Indonesia. pp. 25–36.
  • Bongers, F., Parren, M.P.E. & Traoré, D. (Editors), 2005. Forest climbing plants of West Africa: diversity, ecology and management. CABI, Wallingford, United Kingdom. 273 pp.
  • Brenan, J.P.M., 1959. Leguminosae subfamily Mimosoideae. In: Hubbard, C.E. & Milne-Redhead, E. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 173 pp.
  • Chifundera, K., 2001. Contribution to the inventory of medicinal plants from the Bushi area, South Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of Congo. Fitoterapia 72: 351–368.
  • Dongmo, A.B., Miyamoto, T., Yoshikawa, K., Arihara, S. & Lacaille-Dubois, M.A., 2007. Flavonoids from Acacia pennata and their cyclooxygenase (COX-1 and COX-2) inhibitory activities. Planta Medica 73(11):1202–1207.
  • Dongmo, A.B., Nguelefack, T. & Lacaille-Dubois, M.A., 2005. Antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activities of Acacia pennata wild (Mimosaceae). Journal of Ethnopharmacology 98(1-2): 201–206.
  • Geerling, C., 1982. Guide de terrain des ligneux Sahéliens et Soudano-Guinéens. Mededelingen Landbouwhogeschool Wageningen 82–3. Wageningen, Netherlands. 340 pp.
  • Neuwinger, H.D., 1998. Afrikanische Arzneipflanzen und Jagdgifte. Chemie, Pharmakologie, Toxikologie. 2nd Edition. Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, Stuttgart, Germany. 960 pp.
  • Toledo-Aceves, T. & Swaine, M.D., 2008. Above- and below-ground competition between the liana Acacia kamerunensis and tree seedlings in contrasting light environments. Plant Ecology 196(2): 233–244.
  • Toledo-Aceves, T. & Swaine, M.D., 2008. Effect of lianas on tree regeneration in gaps and forest understorey in a tropical forest in Ghana. Journal of Vegetation Science 19(5): 717–728.
  • Velayos, M., Aedo, C., Cabezas, F., de la Estrella, M., Fero, M. & Barberá, P., 2010. Flora de Guinea ecuatorial: claves de plantas vasculares de Annobón, Bioko y Río Muni. Volume 5. Leguminosae. Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. Real Jardín Botánico, Madrid, Spain. 529 pp.
  • Verger, P.F., 1995. Ewé: The use of plants in Yoruba society. Editoria Schwarcz, Sao Paulo, Brazil. 744 pp.
  • von Maydell, H.-J., 1983. Arbres et arbustes du Sahel: leurs caractéristiques et leurs utilisations. Schriftenreihe der GTZ 147. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH, Eschborn, Germany. 531 pp.
  • Watt, J.M. & Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G., 1962. The medicinal and poisonous plants of southern and eastern Africa. 2nd Edition. E. and S. Livingstone, London, United Kingdom. 1457 pp.
  • Zapfack, L., Ayeni, J.S.O., Besong, S. & Mdaihli, M., 2001. Ethnobotanical survey of the Takamanda Forest Reserve. Consultancy report submitted to PROFA (MINEF-GTZ), Mamfe, Cameroon. 90 pp.

Sources of illustration

  • Ross, J.H., 1979. A conspectus of the African Acacia species. Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa No 44. 155 pp.

Author(s)

  • C.H. Bosch, PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article

Bosch, C.H., 2011. Acacia kamerunensis Gand. [Internet] Record from PROTA4U. Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. <http://www.prota4u.org/search.asp>.

Accessed 28 November 2017.