Cissus quadrangularis (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
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Cissus quadrangularis L.


Protologue: Syst. nat. ed. 12, 2: 124 (1767).
Family: Vitaceae
Chromosome number: 2n = 24

Synonyms

  • Vitis quadrangularis (L.) Wall. ex Wight & Arn. (1834),
  • Cissus fischeri Gilg (1895).

Vernacular names

  • Edible stemmed vine, cactus vine, bone setter, climbing cactus, kangaroo vine, succulent-stemmed wild grape, veld grape, winged treebine, adamant creeper (En).
  • Vigne de Bakel, cissus de Galam, raisin de Galam, vanille du Docteur Burke (Fr).
  • Mbugu-nyama (Sw).

Origin and geographic distribution

Cissus quadrangularis is distributed throughout tropical Africa and is only absent in a few countries of West and Central Africa where rainfall is too high. It is also absent from Cape Verde and the Seychelles. Outside Africa it occurs naturally in Arabia, India and Sri Lanka, and it is naturalized in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. In temperate regions it is grown as a potplant.

Uses

Strong fibres are extracted from the stems of Cissus quadrangularis in Kenya and India. The fibres from the roots are even stronger. The fibres are used in East Africa for wound dressing.

The young shoots and leaves are pleasantly acid in taste and eaten as a vegetable, often mixed with other vegetables. Young stems are eaten in Guinea, Sudan and Madagascar. In India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia the green stems are fried or curried and the ash of the plant is used as a baking powder. In Côte d’Ivoire the seeds are eaten cooked.

Cultivation as an garden ornamental is common and in temperate regions it is grown as a pot plant. It is also used as a live fence and in Somalia it is planted to stabilize dunes.

Throughout its range the stems and leaves are used for skin troubles such as wounds, burns and ulcers. In Ayurvedic medicine it is used as an anti-inflammatory and anti-diarrhoeal, and against headache. To treat patients with fever and malaria in Senegal a decoction of the stems and leaves is rubbed into the skin and added to water for washing. In northern Kenya a root infusion is used against chest pain. In East Africa juice from the stem is dripped into the ear against earache. In West and Central Africa an infusion of the leaves is drunk as a cure for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In South Africa a decoction of the root is applied for swellings and muscle pain. In Java, Thailand, India and southern Africa juice from the stem is applied for rheumatism and to ease the pain of broken bones and hasten recovery. In India and Indonesia, the powdered root is also used in the treatment of fractured bones, as well as for indigestion. The juice of the plant is applied for scurvy, asthma or nosebleed, and used as an alterative for amenorrhoea. An infusion of the plant is considered purgative. In Thailand, the fresh stem is used in the treatment of haemorrhoids, by swallowing thin slices, covered in banana pulp, without chewing, to prevent irritation in the mouth.

The Turkana of northern Kenya use a root infusion as a pesticide against termites. The Maasai grind the stems in water and wash calves with the liquid as a fly repellent and to kill fleas. In Zimbabwe the pulped whole plant is applied to maggot infested wounds. In India stem and leaf extracts have been successfully applied for the control of leafhoppers and mites. In Guinea stems and leaves are fed to livestock and are supposed to stimulate lactation. However, in Sudan the consumption of Cissus quadrangularis by livestock is suspected of causing significant loss of livestock and signs of poisoning were decreased appetite, staggering, dyspnoea, diarrhoea and loss of condition. In Senegal and Central Africa chipped stems and ash of stems are used as fish poison.

Production and international trade

Cissus quadrangularis is mainly used on a local scale. In Asia capsules containing extracts are produced and marketed for the treatment of hemorrhoids.

As an Ayurvedic medicine it is for sale through internet in different formulations. Several formulations containing Cissus quadrangularis are promoted and sold in the western world through internet as a cure for osteoporosis, obesitas and to bodybuilders for increased muscle building. The justification for these uses needs verification through independent research.

Properties

The stem has a pungent smell and taste when crushed. Phytochemical analysis of several parts of Cissus quadrangularis has revealed the presence of a variety of compounds. The aerial parts contain calcium oxalate crystals that are responsible for the irritating action on the skin and in the mouth. Young leafy twigs have a very high vitamin C content of c. 0.4%. In-vivo laboratory tests have confirmed the validity of the traditional use for the treatment of pain and inflammation associated with hemorrhoids and to reduce the size of hemorrhoids. Intramuscular administration of an extract to rats and use as an ointment in dogs increased the speed of fracture healing. The increased speed of healing is attributed to a potent anabolic steroid. The steroid also has androgenic properties and produces a weight increase. A methanol extract was tested in vivo and in vitro and it exhibited antioxidant activity and acted against liver-tissue damage.

Description

Perennial deciduous trailing or climbing herb with tuberous rootstock; stems quadrangular, almost winged, stout, succulent, glabrous, 1–2(–8) m × 1–1.5 cm, constricted at the nodes; tendrils leaf-opposed, simple. Leaves alternate, simple or sometimes palmately 3–5-lobed; stipules ovate, up to 5 mm long; petiole 5–11 mm long; blade somewhat fleshy, ovate or broadly ovate, 1.5–10 cm × 1–11 cm, base truncate, apex rounded, margin serrate. Inflorescence a leaf-opposed cyme, subumbellate, more or less asymmetrical, (2–)4–10 cm × 5–6 cm, peduncle 1–20(–35) mm long, primary branches 2–5, one sometimes further branched, each branch few–15-flowered. Flowers bisexual, 4-merous, sweetly-scented, petals about 2.5 mm long, recurved at anthesis, quickly caducous, pinkish inside, green and red outside. Fruit a rounded, fleshy berry up to 12 mm in diameter, yellow to red or violet, calyx and style persistent, 1-seeded. Seed compressed-elliptical, 5–9 mm long. Seedling with epigeal germination.

Other botanical information

There is a lot of variation in morphological characteristics of Cissus quadrangularis. It is one of a number of closely related species within the genus Cissus. For East Africa a review has resolved most of the confusion in this group but for southern Africa confusion persists. Two closely related species, Cissus cactiformis Gilg and Cissus quinquangularis Chiov., are sometimes considered conspecific with Cissus quadrangularis. Identification is often difficult and uses for this species from Guinea, Gabon and Congo, countries that are probably too humid and where it has not been positively recorded, must be attributed to another species. Likewise, characteristics recorded that are contradicting can possibly be real and the result of ecological or physiological conditions. However, mistaken identification is likely as well, as in the case of contradicting statements that the species is very poisonous versus harmless. The genus Cissus is closely related to Cyphostemma and comprises about 200 species. It is found all over the tropics and subtropics. Many Cissus species are used in traditional medicine in tropical Africa, Asia, South America and in the Caribbean. Cissus rotundifolia (Forssk.) Vahl is a climber with 4–5-angled stems. It is distributed from Eritrea southwards extending into South Africa and occurs wild as well in several Indian Ocean Islands and in the Near East. It has been introduced in the Seychelles. In East Africa the bark is made into rope. In East Africa and in Madagascar the fruits are eaten. Medicinal uses are recorded from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Sap from the stems is rubbed in burns, sap from the tubers is applied to wounds to repel flies and the leaves are used as wound-dressing. Pounded leaves mixed with oil are applied externally to inflammations and to swellings like those caused by bee stings. A leaf decoction is used to cure stomach-ache and diarrhoea. Juice from the pounded leaves is used as eardrops to cure ear infections and is drunk for cardiac problems, dizziness and fainting. The roots serve as a purgative, toothache remedy and are applied externally to cure ulcers.

Growth and development

Cissus quadrangularis flowers during the rainy season. During the dry season the leaves are shed. It can grow vigorously and cover trees and shrubs entirely. It follows the Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) pathway, minimizing water loss by fixing CO2 at night and photosynthesize with the stomata closed during the day. When grown as an ornamental potplant in temperate regions, lowering the temperature to 8–15°C and stopping watering for a few months is beneficial.

Ecology

Cissus quadrangularis occurs in savannas in arid and semi-arid conditions, from sea-level up to 2000 m altitude.

Propagation and planting

Cissus quadrangularis can be propagated with stem cuttings but for large scale multiplication seeds are more appropriate. Cuttings are made of 3 internodes, they are left to dry for a few days and then planted in a sandy substrate.

Harvesting

In cultivation harvesting starts at about 2 years after planting. Mature stem parts are collected. Applying manure or fertilizer after each harvest is recommended.

Handling after harvest

Harvested stems are cut between the nodes and dried in the shade to preserve the active ingredients.

Genetic resources

Cissus quadrangularis is not threatened with extinction but the variation is poorly understood and should be studied to be able to take measures to conserve the variation within the species.

Prospects

It is likely that the demand for Cissus quadrangularis for medicinal use in the international market will increase since it is promoted as a cure for obesitas, osteoporosis and recommended to bodybuilders. These claims should be verified by science and the poisonous nature of the stems needs to be investigated.

Major references

  • Aguilar, N.O., 2001. Cissus L. In: van Valkenburg, J.L.C.H. & Bunyapraphatsara, N. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(2). Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 155–159.
  • Arbonnier, M., 2004. Trees, shrubs and lianas of West African dry zones. CIRAD, Margraf Publishers Gmbh, MNHN, Paris, France. 573 pp.
  • Beentje, H.J., 1994. Kenya trees, shrubs and lianas. National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya. 722 pp.
  • Oliver-Bever, B., 1986. Medicinal plants in tropical West Africa. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom. 375 pp.
  • Verdcourt, B., 1993. Vitaceae. In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 149 pp.

Other references

  • Barakat, S.E.M., Adam, S.E.I., Maglad, M.A. & Wasfi, I.A., 1985. Effects of Cissus quadrangularis on goats and sheep in Sudan. Revue d'Elevage et de Médecine Vétérinaire des Pays Tropicaux 38(2): 185–819.
  • Deka, D.K., Lahon, L.C., Saikia, J. & Mukit, A., 1994. Effect of Cissus quadrangularis in accelerating healing process of experimentally fracture radius ulna of dog: A preliminary study. Indian Journal of Pharmacology 26(1): 44–45.
  • Descoings, B., 1967. Vitacées (Vitaceae). Flore de Madagascar et des Comores (plantes vasculaires), familles 124–124 bis. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. 156 pp.
  • Descoings, B., 1997. Vitacées. In: Bosser, J., Cadet, T., Guého, J. & Marais, W. (Editors). Flore des Mascareignes. Familles 69–79. The Sugar Industry Research Institute, Mauritius, l’Institut Français de Recherche Scientifique pour le Développement en Coopération (ORSTOM), Paris, France & Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 10 pp.
  • Hegnauer, R., 1973. Chemotaxonomie der Pflanzen. Band 6. Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, Switzerland. 882 pp.
  • Jainu, M. & Devi, C.S.S., 2005. In vitro and in vivo evaluation of free-radical scavenging potential of Cissus quadrangularis. Pharmaceutical Biology 43(9): 773–779.
  • Jirikasem, S., Limsiriwong, P., Kajsongkarm, T. & Soontorntanasart, T., 2000. Phytochemical study of Cissus quadrangularis Linn. Thai Journal of Pharmaceutical Science: 24–25.
  • Kokwaro, J.O., 1993. Medicinal plants of East Africa. 2nd Edition. Kenya Literature Bureau, Nairobi, Kenya. 401 pp.
  • Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
  • Oben, J.E., Ngondi, J.L., Momo, C.N., Agbor, G.A. & Sobgui, C.S.M., 2008. The use of a Cissus quadrangularis/Irvingia gabonensis combination in the management of weight loss: a double-blind placebo-controlled study. [Internet] Lipids in Health and Disease 7: 12. http://www.lipidworld.com/ content/7/1/12. February 2011.
  • Panthonga, A., Supraditaporna, W., Kanjanapothia, D., Taesotikula, T. & Reutrakulb, V., 2007. Analgesic, anti-inflammatory and venotonic effects of Cissus quadrangularis Linn. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 110(2): 264–270.
  • Prajapati, N.S., Purohit, S.S., Sharma, A.K. & Kumar, T., 2003. A handbook of medicinal plants: a complete source book. Agrobios, Jodhpur, India. 554 pp. + Annexes.
  • Selvaraj, C. & Narayanasamy, P., 1991. Effect of plant extracts in controlling rice tungro. International Rice Research Newsletter 16(2): 21–22.
  • Staugärd, F. (Editor), 1989. Traditional medicine in Botswana. Ipelegeng Publishers, Gaborone, Botswana. 324 pp.
  • Thulin, M., 1999. Vitaceae. In: Thulin, M. (Editor). Flora of Somalia. Volume 2. Angiospermae (Tiliaceae-Apiaceae). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. pp. 156–168.
  • Tra Bi, F.H., Kouamé, F.N. & Traoré, D., 2005. Utilisation of climbers in two forest reserves in West Côte d’Ivoire. In: Bongers, F., Parren, M.P.E. & Traoré, D. (Editors). Forest climbing plants of West Africa. Diversity, ecology and management. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, United Kingdom. pp. 167–181.
  • Vollesen, K., 1989. Vitaceae. In: Hedberg, I. & Edwards, S. (Editors). Flora of Ethiopia. Volume 3. Pittosporaceae to Araliaceae. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Department of Systematic Botany, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. pp. 399–418.

Sources of illustration

  • Aguilar, N.O., 2001. Cissus L. In: van Valkenburg, J.L.C.H. & Bunyapraphatsara, N. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(2). Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 155–159.

Author(s)

  • A.T. Tchinda, Institut de Recherches Médicales et d’Etudes des Plantes Médicinales (IMPM), Ministère de la Recherche Scientifique et de l’Innovation, B.P. 6163, Yaoundé, Cameroun

Correct citation of this article

Tchinda, A.T., 2011. Cissus quadrangularis L. [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 4 March 2020.