Buchholzia coriacea (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
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distribution in Africa (wild)

Buchholzia coriacea Engl.


1, flowering twig; 2, flower; 3, fruit. Redrawn and adapted by J.M. de Vries
Protologue: Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 7: 335 (1886).
Family: Capparaceae
Chromosome number: 2n = 28

Synonyms

  • Buchholzia macrophylla Pax (1892).

Vernacular names

  • Musk tree, elephant kola (En).
  • Kola pimenté, oignon de gorille (Fr).

Origin and geographic distribution

Buchholzia coriacea occurs from Guinea and Sierra Leone to Cameroon and Gabon.

Uses

Several plant parts of Buchholzia coriacea are commonly used in traditional medicine in West and Central Africa. Roots are taken as stimulant, but they have also been reported to be poisonous. Bark extracts are applied as an enema to treat back pain. Non specified bark preparations are applied externally against pleurisy, rheumatism, conjunctivitis, smallpox, scabies and other skin complaints, and as anodyne and tonic. Leaf decoctions are taken to treat sterility in women; a bath is taken in the decoction for the same purpose. Leaf infusions are applied to the eyes against filarial nematodes, and powdered or pulped leaves are applied to treat fever, rheumatism, ulcers, boils and haemorrhoids. Ground fruits are applied as anodyne. Fruit kernels are chewed to treat angina and nose bleeding, and fruit extracts are taken as anthelmintic. Ground fruits are applied against fever and pain, and fruit scrapings are administered to treat asthma and cough. Seed preparations are taken to treat pain, fever, diabetes, hypertension, cough, psychiatric disorders and impotence, and as anthelmintic. Seed powder is sniffed or applied locally as anodyne, and seed pulp is applied to snakebites. Seed oil is taken against menstruation problems and gastro-intestinal complaints. The bark is used as an ingredient in the preparation of arrow poison.

The fruits are occasionally eaten after boiling, as well as the seeds which have a peppery taste and are used as a substitute of capsicum pepper. In Côte d’Ivoire the seed is chewed as a substitute of kola nuts. The wood is sometimes used in house construction.

Production and international trade

The fruits and seeds are sometimes sold in local markets.

Properties

Tannins, proanthocyanidins and glycosinolates are present in roots, bark and leaves. From the bark the triterpene lupeol and the sterols β-sitosterol, campesterol and stigmasterol have been isolated. Wide biological activity is known for β-sitosterol, including antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory activities. Methanolic bark extracts exhibited pronounced concentration-dependent activity against the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, as well as against the fungi Candida albicans and Aspergillus flavus. They were non-toxic in a brine shrimp assay. Methanolic leaf and stem extracts showed considerable in-vitro anthelmintic activity.

Methanolic fruit extracts exhibited hypoglycaemic and anti-oxidant effects in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats and mice, and it was suggested that the extracts could be a potential source of new antidiabetic and anti-oxidant agents. Seed extracts showed anti-oxidant and modest antibacterial and antifungal activities, as well as larvicidal activity against the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae. They were demonstrated to have moderate in-vitro activity against Trypanosoma brucei as well as trypanocidal activity in mice experimentally infected with Trypanosoma brucei, but they did not show antitrypanosomal activity in mice infected with Trypanosoma congolense. Moreover, in tests on mice, methanolic seed extracts exhibited pronounced analgesic activity comparable to the standard reference drug acetylsalicylic acid, and they also showed anthelmintic activity in tests on the earthworm Eudrilus eugeniae and the hookworm Bunostomum phlebotomum at a dose of 50 mg/kg.

Fresh seeds contain per 100 g: water 6.3–10.0 g, energy 2621 kJ (626 kcal), protein 16.4–22.1 g, fat 1.9–5.4 g, carbohydrate 52.5–55.2 g, fibre 6.1–13.9 g, ash 6.3 g and ascorbic acid 5.5 mg. The contents of the anti-nutritional compounds phytate and oxalate are about 11 mg/g and 8 mg/g, respectively.

The heartwood is yellowish white and indistinctly demarcated from the sapwood. The texture is fine, and the wood has a density of about 580 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content and a peppery smell.

Description

Evergreen, small to medium-sized tree up to 20 m tall; bole straight or crooked, cylindrical, up to 50 cm in diameter; bark surface smooth, greyish to greenish brown or dark brown, inner bark thin, orange-brown to reddish brown; crown rounded, dense; twigs slightly angular, glabrous. Leaves arranged spirally but clustered near ends of twigs, simple and entire; stipules triangular, c. 1 mm long, persistent; petiole (2–)5–12.5 cm long, slightly broadened at each end; blade elliptical to obovate or oblanceolate, 10–30(–40) cm × 4–11(–13.5) cm, cuneate at base, acute to acuminate at apex, leathery, glabrous, pinnately veined with c. 10 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence an axillary or terminal raceme up to 25 cm long, sometimes slightly branched, glabrous, many-flowered. Flowers bisexual, regular, bad-smelling; pedicel 0.5–1(–1.5) cm long; sepals 4, free, elliptical to ovate, 4–5 mm long, glabrous, greenish yellow, becoming recurved; petals absent, but receptacle with fleshy annular disk 1.5–2.5 mm high; stamens numerous, free, 1–2 cm long, with yellowish filaments and blackish anthers; ovary superior, long-stalked, ellipsoid, glabrous, 1-celled, stigma sessile, indistinct. Fruit a globose to ellipsoid berry 6–12 cm long, stalked, smooth, orange-yellow, 1–4-seeded. Seeds globose to ellipsoid, 2.5–3.5 cm long, slightly flattened, dark brown to black. Seedling with hypogeal germination; epicotyl 15–22 cm long; cotyledons remaining within the seed coat; first leaves alternate.

Other botanical information

Buchholzia comprises only 2 species. Buchholzia tholloniana Hua (synonym: Buchholzia macrothyrsa Gilg) closely resembles Buchholzia coriacea and is used for similar medicinal purposes. The seed is also used as a substitute of capsicum pepper and the wood occasionally for house construction; the two species have often been confused in the literature. Buchholzia tholloniana differs in slightly narrower leaves with more numerous lateral veins and often more branched inflorescences, and is found in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Congo, DR Congo and Cabinda (Angola).

Growth and development

In Nigeria flowers can be found almost throughout the year. In Cameroon the tree flowers in the dry season from September to January. In Côte d’Ivoire it flowers in August–December and ripe fruits can be found in February–March. The fruits are eaten by elephants, which disperse the seeds. In Ghana seeds have been found germinating in elephant dung.

Ecology

Buchholzia coriacea occurs in the understorey of humid, evergreen lowland rainforest, in primary as well as secondary forest. It is often found on river banks. In Cameroon it grows in regions not far from the coast with 2200–5000 mm annual rainfall, in forest dominated by Lophira alata Banks ex P.Gaertn. and Sacoglottis gabonensis (Baill.) Urb., whereas Buchholzia tholloniana occurs more inland in regions with less rainfall, often in semi-deciduous forest.

Propagation and planting

Seeds start germinating 1–2 months after sowing. The germination rate of seeds is generally high without pre-treatment.

Buchholzia coriacea can be propagated by single-node stem cuttings taken from 2-months-old seedlings, with or without treatment with growth hormones. A survival rate of 96% was recorded for cuttings.

Management

Buchholzia coriacea and Buchholzia tholloniana are sometimes planted in villages as a medicinal plant.

Genetic resources

Buchholzia coriacea has a fairly large distribution area and is locally common, e.g. in Ghana, and therefore it does not seem to be threatened by genetic erosion as long as its habitat, i.e. lowland rainforest, still covers larger areas. The same applies to Buchholzia tholloniana.

Prospects

Buchholzia coriacea is an example of a medicinal plant commonly used in tropical Africa of which the traditional uses are supported by the results of pharmacological research. This relates to antimicrobial, anthelmintic, anti-trypanosomal, hypoglycaemic and analgesic activities. A logical next step would be the development of the crude products into standardized, quality-controlled drugs for more reliable and safer usage.

The use of the seeds as a spice warrants investigation; particularly toxicological studies are needed as a basis for safe usage.

Major references

  • Adisa, R.A., Choudhary, M.I. & Olorunsogo, O.O., 2011. Hypoglycemic activity of Buchholzia coriacea (Capparaceae) seeds in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats and mice. Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology 63: 619–625.
  • Akinyele, A.O., 2010. Effects of growth hormones, rooting media and leaf size on juvenile stem cuttings of Buchholzia coriacea Engler. Annals of Forest Research 53(2): 127–133.
  • Burkill, H.M., 1985. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 1, Families A–D. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 960 pp.
  • Ezeja, M.I., Ezeigbo, I.I. & Madubuike, K.G., 2011. Analgesic activity of the methanolic seed extract of Buchholzia coriacea. Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Sciences 2(1): 187–193.
  • Neuwinger, H.D., 1998. Afrikanische Arzneipflanzen und Jagdgifte. Chemie, Pharmakologie, Toxikologie. 2nd Edition. Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, Stuttgart, Germany. 960 pp.
  • Nwaehujor, C.O., Ode, O.J, Nwinyi, F.C. & Udeh, N.E., 2012. Effects of methanol extract of Buchholzia coriacea fruit in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology 7(4): 181–191.
  • Nweze, N.E., 2011. Studies on the antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of the seed extracts of Buchholzia coriacea (Capparaceae). Nigerian Veterinary Journal 32(2): 143–147.
  • Nweze, N.E., Anene, B.M. & Asuzu, I.U., 2011. In vitro anti-trypanosomal activities of crude extracts, ß-sitosterol and a-sulphur from Buchholzia coriacea seed. African Journal of Biotechnology 10(69): 15626–15632.
  • Ogundele, G.J., 2005. Physicochemical screening and effect of processing on nutrient, antinutrient, antioxidant properties of elephant kola (Buchholzia coriacea). PGD Clinical Biochemistry degree thesis, Department of Biochemistry, School of Science, Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria. 33 pp.
  • Risseeuw, M., 1964. Primitiae Africanae V: A revision of the genus Buchholzia Engler (Capp.). Acta Botanica Neerlandica 13: 161-174.

Other references

  • Adediwura, F.J., Omonike, O., Olamide, A. & Oluwatosin, E., 2011. Larvicidal effect of the petroleum ether, chloroform fractions and methanol extract of Buchholzia coriacea Engl. seed. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research 2(7): 1736–1739.
  • Adjanohoun, E.J., Ahyi, A.M.R., Aké Assi, L., Baniakina, J., Chibon, P., Cusset, G., Doulou, V., Enzanza, A., Eymé, J., Goudoté, E., Keita, A., Mbemba, C., Mollet, J., Moutsamboté, J.-M., Mpati, J. & Sita, P. (Editors), 1988. Médecine traditionnelle et pharmacopée - Contribution aux études ethnobotaniques et floristiques en République Populaire du Congo. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 606 pp.
  • Ajaiyeoba, E.O., Onocha, P.A., Nwozo, S.O. & Sama, W., 2003. Antimicrobial and cytotoxicity evaluation of Buchholzia coriacea stem bark. Fitoterapia 74: 706–709.
  • Ajaiyeoba, E.O., Onocha, P.A. & Olarenwaju, O.T., 2001. In vitro anthelmintic properties of Buchholzia coriacea and Gynandropsis gynandra extracts. Pharmaceutical Biology 39(3): 217–220.
  • Aké Assi, L., Abeye, J., Guinko, S., Riguet, R. & Bangavou, X., 1985. Médecine traditionnelle et pharmacopée - Contribution aux études ethnobotaniques et floristiques en République Centrafricaine. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 140 pp.
  • de Koning, J., 1983. La forêt de Banco. Part 2: La Flore. Mededelingen Landbouwhogeschool Wageningen 83–1. Wageningen, Netherlands. 921 pp.
  • Fred-Jaiyesimi, A.A., Adepoju, A. & Egbebunmi, O., 2011. Anthelmintic activities of chloroform and methanol extracts of Buchholzia coriacea Engler seed. Parasitology Research 109(2): 441–444.
  • Hauman, L. & Wilczek, R., 1951. Capparidaceae. In: Robyns, W., Staner, P., Demaret, F., Germain, R., Gilbert, G., Hauman, L., Homès, M., Jurion, F., Lebrun, J., Vanden Abeele, M. & Boutique, R. (Editors). Flore du Congo belge et du Ruanda-Urundi. Spermatophytes. Volume 2. Institut National pour l’Étude Agronomique du Congo belge, Brussels, Belgium. pp. 454–521.
  • Hawthorne, W.D., 1995. Ecological profiles of Ghanaian forest trees. Tropical Forestry Papers 29. Oxford Forestry Institute, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, United Kingdom. 345 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.
  • Keay, R.W.J., 1989. Trees of Nigeria. A revised version of Nigerian trees (1960, 1964) by Keay, R.W.J., Onochie, C.F.A. & Stanfield, D.P. Clarendon Press, Oxford, United Kingdom. 476 pp.
  • Kers, L.E., 1986. Capparidaceae. Flore du Cameroun. Volume 29. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. 141 pp.
  • Kers, L.E., 1987. Capparidaceae. Flore du Gabon. Volume 30. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. pp. 3–68.
  • Latham, P., 2004. Useful plants of Bas-Congo province, Democratic Republic of the Congo. DFID, London, United Kingdom. 320 pp.
  • Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
  • Nweze, N.E., Anene, B.M. & Asuzu, I.U., 2011. Investigation of the antitrypanosomal activity of Buchholzia coriacea seed extract against a field strain of Trypanosoma congolense. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines 8: 175–180.
  • Nweze, N.E., Fakae, L.B. & Asuzu, I.U., 2008. Trypanocidal activity of the ethanolic extract of Buchholzia coriacea seed. Nigerian Veterinary Journal 29(4): 1–6.
  • Raponda-Walker, A. & Sillans, R., 1961. Les plantes utiles du Gabon. Paul Lechevalier, Paris, France. 614 pp.
  • Ubbaonu, C.N. & Nwosu, J.N., 2008. Effects of processing (cooking and frying) on the proximate and functional properties of ‘Uke’ (Buchholzia coriacea) seed flour. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture and the Environment 10(1): 69–77.
  • Vivien, J. & Faure, J.J., 1996. Fruitiers sauvages d’Afrique: espèces du Cameroun. Ministère Français de la Coopération, Paris, France & CTA, Wageningen, Netherlands. 416 pp.

Afriref references

Sources of illustration

  • Kers, L.E., 1986. Capparidaceae. Flore du Cameroun. Volume 29. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. 141 pp.
  • Risseeuw, M., 1964. Primitiae Africanae V: A revision of the genus Buchholzia Engler (Capp.). Acta Botanica Neerlandica 13: 161-174.

Author(s)

  • R.H.M.J. Lemmens, PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands


Correct citation of this article

Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2013. Buchholzia coriacea Engl. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. Accessed 12 November 2020.