Cochlospermum planchonii (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
List of species

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Geographic coverage World Fairytale bookmark gold.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svg
Dye / tannin Fairytale bookmark gold.svgFairytale bookmark gold.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svgGood article star.svg
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Cochlospermum planchonii Hook.f.

Protologue: Niger Fl.: 268 (1849).
Family: Cochlospermaceae (APG: Bixaceae)
Chromosome number: 2n = 12

Vernacular names

  • False cotton (En).
  • Faux cotonnier (Fr).

Origin and geographic distribution

Cochlospermum planchonii is distributed from Senegal eastward to Chad.


The stem bark yields a fibre used in northern Sierra Leone and in northern Nigeria for making string and rope. In Burkina Faso the fibre is used for binding mats. The floss of the fruit can be used for stuffing.

The rootstock is a source of a yellow dye which is used e.g. in Sudan and Nigeria. Hausa people in northern Nigeria add indigo to obtain green shades. In Benin a reddish powder obtained from the rootstock is used as a colouring agent for sauces and soups. In Burkina Faso the flowers are eaten. Cochlospermum planchonii is one of the plants preferred by cattle in grazing land in Burkina Faso. In eastern Nigeria the seeds are used as beads.

In traditional medicine in northern Sierra Leone a decoction of the rootstock is drunk for the treatment of gonorrhoea. In Mali the rootstock enters into diuretic preparations and several preparations of the rootstock are prescribed against jaundice. Dried powdered rootstock mixed with shea butter is applied on burn wounds to promote healing. Rootstocks are also rubbed on the body against snake-bites. A decoction of the rootstock or leaves is used as a bath or is drunk against malaria. The powdered rootstock, diluted in water and mixed with lemon juice, is drunk as a tonic. Powdered dried leaves are taken for the treatment of palpitations. Leaf decoctions are drunk or used in washings against fever. A leaf decoction with Lophira lanceolata Tiegh. ex Keay and shea butter is taken against jaundice. A tea of the leaves with a few peppercorns is drunk against gastrointestinal problems. In Benin a decoction of the leaves is taken orally against diarrhoea and as antiemetic. Anii and Ifè communities in that country use the leaves for the treatment of dysentery. A decoction of leaves mixed with the bark of Aphelia africana Sm. ex Pers. is given against oedema. In Côte d’Ivoire Malinké people use a decoction of leaves as bath or drink against diarrhoea in babies. Traditional healers among the Igede of eastern Nigeria use the plant against AIDS. An extract of the plant is said to control menstruation. A compress of the plant or a wash is applied against broken bones.

Production and international trade

Cochlospermum planchonii is only used and traded locally. In northern Benin, for instance, products from Cochlospermum planchonii are sometimes sold in local markets


Essential oil obtained from the rhizome by hydrodistillation showed in vitro antimalarial activity againstPlasmodium falciparum. A decoction of the rootstock appeared safe and statistically as efficient as chloroquine for the treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in humans, although with slightly slower activity. A methanolic root extract showed potent bioactive activity, including depressant effects on the central nervous system, and analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antihyperglycaemic effects, with minimal toxicity. Therefore, it seems to have a potential for pharmacological control of pain, inflammation, and diabetes mellitus. An aqueous extract of the rootstock, prepared in the manner used by practitioners of traditional medicine in northern Nigeria to treat jaundice, protects carbon tetrachloride-treated rats from liver damage, as measured by the reduction in serum levels of diagnostic enzymes. Administration of the extract prior to carbon tetrachloride treatment reduced the increase of cytochrome P-450 monoxygenases aminopyrine-N-demethylase and aniline hydroxylase, suggesting hepatoprotection. The inhibitor was identified as zinc formate. The root bark has shown antifungal activity against the plant pathogen Cladosporium cucumerinum. The dye extracted from the rootstock has shown antioxidant properties when added to shea butter. The essential oil from the rootstock is rich in 3-tetradecenone and tetradecyl acetate.

Microcrystalline cellulose suitable in pharmaceutical practice to make tablets has been obtained from the lint of the seeds.


Shrub with woody subterranean rootstock from which, in the rainy season, annual, leafy shoots up to 2.5 m tall are produced. Leaves alternate, palmately (3–)5-lobed; stipules subulate, c. 3 mm long; petiole up to 10 cm long; blade in outline 6–15 cm × 7–17 cm, base cordate to cuneate, lobes oblong, basally connate for half to two-thirds of their length, apex rounded, margin entire, rarely dented, upper surface dark green and almost glabrous, lower surface paler and soft-hairy. Inflorescence terminal, with 3–7 fascicled branches, rarely lax; bracts triangular. Flowers bisexual, actinomorphic, 5-merous, 5–9 cm in diameter; sepals unequal, elliptical-oblong to broadly ovate, 8–13 mm × 6–8 mm, the outer 2 shorter than the inner 3, usually velvety; petals obovate, c. 3 cm × 2.5 cm, shallowly emarginate, golden yellow; stamens numerous, filaments 5–15 cm long; ovary superior, globose, style elongate, linear. Fruit a 3–5-valved capsule, ovoid, obovoid or pyriform, 4–7 cm × c. 4 cm, many-seeded. Seeds reniform, 6.5–7 mm × 3.5–4 mm, black, with loosely attached, long, white hairs.

Cochlospermum planchonii flowers towards the end of the rainy season. Fruits are produced 1–2 months after flowering.

Cochlospermaceae is a small family comprising 15 species in 2 genera. Cochlospermum comprises 12 species, 5 of these occurring wild in Africa.


Cochlospermum planchonii occurs from sea level up to 1700 m altitude in savanna and forest-savanna mosaic and in fallows, sometimes in hedges. It is a common weed of cultivation, reproducing naturally from seeds and rhizomes. Due to the rootstock plants are tolerant to fire.


Cochlospermum planchonii is usually collected from the wild, but it is occasionally cultivated by Chamba people of the Shebshi Mountains of eastern Nigeria. Propagation is possible with seeds and rootstock.

To obtain dye, the fresh rootstock is cut and washed, and the bark is removed, after which the remainder is crushed with a pestle and squeezed manually. The resulting liquid is decanted and oven-dried. To obtain food colourant in Benin, the rootstock is cleaned, pounded and dried. Storage of the rootstock, even for only 2 days, may result in breakdown of the compounds responsible for the dye.

The seed hairs are easily separated from the seed coat.

Genetic resources

Cochlospermum planchonii is widespread and locally common, but concerns have been expressed about its local vulnerability because of the destructive nature of harvesting rootstocks for medicines or dye.


Cochlospermum planchonii will locally remain an important fibre and dye plant. Its interesting medicinal properties may make it a valuable medicinal plant of much wider importance.

Major references

  • 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.
  • Anaga, A.O & Oparah, N.Q., 2009. Investigation of the methanol root extract of Cochlospermum planchonii for pharmacological activities in vitro and in vivo. Pharmaceutical Biology 47(11): 1027–1034.
  • 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.
  • Nikiema, A., 2005. Agroforestry parkland species diversity: Uses and management in semi-arid West Africa (Burkina Faso). PhD thesis, Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands. 102 pp.
  • Poppendieck, H.H., 1980. A monograph of the Cochlospermaceae. Botanische Jahrbücher für Systematik, Pflanzengeschichte und Pflanzengeographie 101: 191–265.

Other 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.
  • Achigan-Dako, E.G., Pasquini, M.W., Assogba-Komlan, F., N’danikou, S., Yédomonhan, H., Dansi A. & Ambrose-Oji, B., 2010. Traditional vegetables in Benin: diversity, distribution, ecology, agronomy, and utilisation. Institut National des Recherches Agricoles du Bénin, Benin. 252 pp.
  • Adjanohoun, E.J., Aké Assi, L., Floret, J.J., Guinko, S., Koumaré, M., Ahyi, M.R.A. & Raynal, J., 1979. Médecine traditionelle et pharmacopée - Contribution aux études ethnobotaniques et floristiques au Mali. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 291 pp.
  • Akobundu, I.O. & Agyakwa, C.G., 1998. A handbook of West African weeds. International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Nigeria. 564 pp.
  • Aliyu, R., Okoye, Z.S.C. & Shier, W.T., 1995. The hepatoprotective cytochrome P-450 enzyme inhibitor isolated from the Nigerian medicinal plant Cochlospermum planchonii is a zinc salt. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 48(2): 89–97.
  • Benoit-Vical, F., Valentin, A., Da, B., Dakuyo, Z., Descamps, L. & Mallié, M., 2003. N’Dribala (Cochlospermum planchonii) versus chloroquine for treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 89(1): 111–114.
  • Berhaut, J., 1974. Flore illustrée du Sénégal. Dicotylédones. Volume 2. Balanophoracées à Composées. Gouvernement du Sénégal, Ministère du Développement Rural et de l’Hydraulique, Direction des Eaux et Forêts, Dakar, Senegal. 695 pp.
  • Butare, I. (Editor), 2003. Pratiques culturelles, la sauvegarde et la conservation de la biodiversité en Afrique de l’ouest et du centre: actes du Séminaire-atelier de Ouagadougou, du 18 au 21 juin 2001. Ottawa, IDRC/Zoom Editions, Ottawa, Canada. 281 pp.
  • Ohwoavworhua, F.O. & Adelakun, T.A., 2005. Some physical characteristics of microcrystalline cellulose obtained from raw cotton of Cochlospermum planchonii. Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research 4(2): 501–507.
  • SEPASAL, 2010. Cochlospermum planchonii. [Internet] Survey of Economic Plants for Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (SEPASAL) database. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. ceb/sepasal/. April 2010.


  • L.P.A. Oyen, PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article

Oyen, L.P.A., 2010. Cochlospermum planchonii Hook.f. [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. <>.

Accessed 6 March 2020.