Cryptolepis oblongifolia (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
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Cryptolepis oblongifolia (Meisn.) Schltr.


Protologue: J. Bot. 34: 315 (1896).
Family: Asclepiadaceae (APG: Apocynaceae)

Synonyms

  • Ectadiopsis oblongifolia (Meisn.) Schltr. (1893),
  • Cryptolepis nigritana (Benth.) N.E.Br. (1902).

Vernacular names

  • Red-stemmed cryptolepis (En).

Origin and geographic distribution

Cryptolepis oblongifolia is widely distributed in tropical Africa and also native to South Africa and Swaziland.

Uses

Fibre from the stem bark is used to make thread and fine rope in Sudan, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. In Malawi fishing nets are made from the fibre, and in Zimbabwe fishing lines and headgear for horses. In Benin and Malawi the leaves are eaten cooked as a vegetable. The fruits are eaten in Tanzania.

In traditional medicine in Tanzania and Zimbabwe root preparations are used to cure coughing, stomach ache and diarrhoea in children, and a root decoction is taken as an aphrodisiac. In Zambia the pulped root bark is applied as wound dressing and in Benin and Zambia the pulped or powdered root bark is taken for the treatment of gonorrhoea. In several countries the latex or a leaf decoction is dripped in the eye to cure sore eyes, conjunctivitis and cataract. In Mozambique the leaves are used as a cure for malaria.

Properties

The leaves of Cryptolepis oblongifolia contain traces of flavonins and the leaves, bark and roots contain steroids and terpenes. From bark collected in Malawi the xanthones 1,7-dihydroxy-4-methoxyxanthone and 1,2,7-trimethoxyxanthone were isolated.

Botany

Erect, branching shrub up to 2 m tall, with long, slender branches up to 60 cm long, reddish brown, containing white latex. Leaves opposite, simple and entire, glabrous; stipules absent; petiole very short; blade linear to lanceolate, rarely oblong or ovate, up to 10 cm long, base cuneate, apex acute, mucronulate. Inflorescence an axillary cyme up to 18 mm in diameter, with few to many flowers. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, yellowish green; pedicel 2–3 mm long; sepals oblong, obtuse; corolla campanulate, tube 1.5–2 mm long, lobes 3–4 mm long, contorted to the left in bud; corona lobes inserted at the middle of the corolla tube, fleshy, c. 0.5 mm long. Fruit a pair of spreading follicles, each straight, tapering to a blunt apex and up to 14 cm × 1 cm. Seeds oblong-elliptical, c. 1 cm long, crowned with a dense coma of long silky hairs.

In West Africa Cryptolepis oblongifolia flowers in May–July and fruits ripen around October.

Cryptolepis belongs to subfamily Periplocoideae. The genus comprises about 30 species in Africa, Asia and Australia. The majority of the species occur in East Africa and on Socotra (Yemen).

Ecology

Cryptolepis oblongifolia occurs from sea-level up to 1800 m altitude in savanna woodland.

Genetic resources

Cryptolepis oblongifolia is widespread and is not threatened with genetic erosion.

Prospects

As a fibre plant Cryptolepis oblongifolia will not become more important than it is now but its medicinal uses warrant further research.

Major references

  • Bullock, A.A., 1963. Periplocaceae. In: Hepper, F.N. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 2. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 80–85.
  • Burkill, H.M., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 969 pp.
  • Venter, H.J.T. & Verhoeven, R.L., 1997. A tribal classification of the Periplocoideae (Apocynaceae). Taxon 46(4): 705–720.
  • Williamson, J., 1955. Useful plants of Nyasaland. The Government Printer, Zomba, Nyasaland. 168 pp.

Other references

  • 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.
  • Brown, N.E., 1902–1904. Asclepiadeae. In: Thiselton-Dyer, W.T. (Editor). Flora of tropical Africa. Volume 4(1). Lovell Reeve & Co, London, United Kingdom. pp. 231–503.
  • Bruce, E.A., 1946. Notes on some species of the genus Cryptolepis R.Br. Kew Bulletin 1(1): 46–48.
  • Bullock, A.A., 1955. Notes on African Asclepiadaceae 6. Kew Bulletin 1955: 265–292.
  • Fowler, D.G., 2006. Traditional fever remedies: a list of Zambian plants. [Internet] http://www.giftsofhealth.org/ ritam/news/ Traditional_Fever_remedie1.pdf. May 2011.
  • Galeffi, C., Federici, E., Msonthi, J.D., Marini-Bettolo, G.B. & Nicoletti, M., 1990. New xanthones from Ectiadiopsis oblongifolia and Securidaca longipedunculata. Fitoterapia 61(1): 79–81.
  • Irvine, F.R., 1961. Woody plants of Ghana, with special reference to their uses. Oxford University Press, London, United Kingdom. 868 pp.
  • Matavele, J. & Habib, M., 2000. Ethnobotany in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique: use of medicinal plants. Environment, Development and Sustainability 2: 227–234.
  • Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
  • von Koenen, E., 2001. Medicinal, poisonous and edible plants in Namibia. Klaus Hess Verlag, Göttingen, Germany. 336 pp.

Sources of illustration

  • Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (Editors), 2006. Flore analytique du Bénin. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. 1034 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. Cryptolepis oblongifolia (Meisn.) Schltr. [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 20 November 2020.