Bauhinia kalantha (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
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Bauhinia kalantha Harms


Protologue: Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 28: 398 (1900).
Family: Caesalpiniaceae (Leguminosae - Caesalpinioideae)

Vernacular names

  • Mchekwa (Sw).

Origin and geographic distribution

Bauhinia kalantha is endemic to Tanzania where it is restricted to the Dodoma, Morogoro and Iringa Regions.

Uses

In the area around Dodoma (Tanzania), the sliced roots of Bauhinia kalantha are boiled together with chicken and eaten as a treatment for schistosomiasis. Young, tender leaves are cooked alone or with other leaves as a vegetable. Bauhinia kalantha produces good firewood and a dye used in basketry. Ropes are made from the bark fibre.

Properties

Active compounds have not been reported for Bauhinia kalantha, but other Bauhinia species are known to contain glucosides of flavones and flavonols.

Description

Shrub up to 3 m tall, glabrous except stamens and ovary. Leaves alternate, simple; blade 1–4.5 cm × 1.5–4 cm, deeply 2-lobed to one-fifth from base, lobes rounded at the apex. Flowers solitary, bisexual, almost regular, 5-merous; hypanthium 3–4 mm long; sepals narrowly ovate to lanceolate, 13–17 mm long; petals obovate, 2.5–3.5 cm × 1–2 cm, yellow; stamens 10, all fertile, hairy; ovary superior, hairy, stigma c. 3 mm in diameter. Fruit an oblong pod c. 1.5 cm wide, woody, dehiscent, few-seeded. Seeds 7–8 mm × 6–7 mm, deep brown.

Other botanical information

Bauhinia is a widespread tropical genus with about 250 species.

Bauhinia urbaniana

Bauhinia urbaniana Schinz is also used in traditional medicine. It is restricted to Zambia, Angola, Namibia and Botswana on Kalahari sands in woodland at around 1000 m altitude. In Namibia the cut fresh roots are cooked in water and the decoction is taken as a strengthening tonic for adults in case of any serious sickness. The dried, powdered roots are mixed with vaseline and babies are rubbed with the mixture as a protection against sickness.

Ecology

Bauhinia kalantha occurs in deciduous woodland and thickets, often on stony soils, at 600–1000 m altitude.

Management

For all uses, plant material is only collected from the wild. The edible leaves are collected from November till April.

Genetic resources

Although it has a limited distribution, Bauhinia kalantha apparently is common in its range.

Prospects

The chemical and pharmacological properties of Bauhinia kalantha have not been analysed and it is therefore impossible to judge its value as a medicinal plant and vegetable.

Major references

  • Brenan, J.P.M., 1967. Leguminosae, subfamily Caesalpinioideae. In: Milne-Redhead, E. & Polhill, R.M. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 230 pp.
  • Kokwaro, J.O., 1993. Medicinal plants of East Africa. 2nd Edition. Kenya Literature Bureau, Nairobi, Kenya. 401 pp.
  • Ruffo, C.K., Birnie, A. & Tengnäs, B., 2002. Edible wild plants of Tanzania. Technical Handbook No 27. Regional Land Management Unit/ SIDA, Nairobi, Kenya. 766 pp.

Other references

  • Blomley, T. & Mbogo, N., 1992. Use and management of indigenous trees and plants by the people of Tharaka, Meru. ICRAF, Nairobi, Kenya. 33 pp.
  • Brummitt, R.K., Chikuni, A.C., Lock, J.M. & Polhill, R.M., 2007. Leguminosae, subfamily Caesalpinioideae. In: Timberlake, J.R., Pope, G.V., Polhill, R.M. & Martins, E.S. (Editors). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 3, part 2. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 218 pp.
  • Dale, I.R. & Greenway, P.J., 1961. Kenya trees and shrubs. Buchanan’s Kenya Estates Limited, Nairobi, Kenya. 654 pp.
  • Leger, S., 1997. The hidden gifts of nature: A description of today’s use of plants in West Bushmanland (Namibia). [Internet] DED, German Development Service, Windhoek, Namibia & Berlin, Germany. http://www.sigridleger.de/book/. April 2003.
  • Vihan, V.S., Kumar, A. & Arora, N., 2007. In vitro larvicidal activity of various ethnomedicinal plants extract on Haemonchus contortus. Indian Journal of Animal Sciences 77: 1219–1223

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., 2008. Bauhinia kalantha Harms. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. Accessed 18 February 2019.