Haumania liebrechtsiana (PROTA)

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Haumania liebrechtsiana (De Wild. & T.Durand) J.Léonard

Protologue: Bull. Jard. Bot. Etat 19: 454 (1949).
Family: Marantaceae

Origin and geographic distribution

Haumania liebrechtsiana is distributed in Gabon, Congo, DR Congo and Cabinda (Angola).


The leaves are used for wrapping food and other things. The stems are used for tying, for instance in house construction, for weaving and for making traps for small animals such as rats, crabs and fish. Split stems are used for making arrow cases. Split petioles are used as skewers. In traditional medicine, leaf ash is applied for the treatment of scabies and burns, and seeds ground with kaolin are applied on abscesses.


Perennial, liana-like herb up to 10 m tall or more, with rhizome; stem branched, hairy. Leaves alternate, imbricate; petiole sheathing for much of its length, apical calloused part 2–6 cm long, the calloused and uncalloused parts not separated by a joint, transition of the petiole into the midvein marked by a beak on the upper surface, but continuous on the lower surface; blade ovate-oblong, more or less symmetric, 10–30 cm × 6–15 cm, base rounded, apex acuminate, pubescence of the lower surface often confined to lines of hairs along the midvein. Inflorescence a raceme c. 10 cm long, subtended by lanceolate sheaths; main axis zig-zag, with at each node an abaxial bract enveloping 3–6 cymules; abaxial bracts ovate, 2.5–3.5 cm long, with acuminate apex, whitish; cymules each with an adaxial bract, 2-flowered; common peduncle of cymules short. Flowers bisexual, zygomorphic, white, fragrant; bracteole absent; sepals 3, petaloid, free, equal, 10–15 mm long; corolla tubular below, with 3 lobes, tube 7 mm long, lobes 10–12 mm long; fertile stamen 1, staminodes petaloid and white with yellow spots; ovary inferior, densely hairy, 3-locular. Fruit an indehiscent, round capsule, becoming 3-lobed upon drying, covered with rounded protuberances, yellow. Seeds black, without aril.

Haumania comprises 3 species, distributed in central Africa. The similarly used Haumania danckelmaniana (J.Braun & K.Schum.) Milne-Redh. can be distinguished from Haumania liebrechtsiana by its stems with prickles, its abaxial inflorescence bracts 1.5–2 cm long, and its sepals 3–4 mm long.


Haumania liebrechtsiana occurs in primary and secondary forest, along streams and in inundated locations. In the Lopé reserve (Cameroon) densities of over 25,000 stems per ha have been recorded. The shoots are an important food of gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos, and the immature seeds are also eaten.

Genetic resources

There are no indications that Haumania liebrechtsiana is threatened by genetic erosion.


The leaves and stems of Haumania liebrechtsiana are locally made into a range of useful articles. There are no reports of the species being overexploited, but the plant may have potential for cultivation for local use, and research on propagation and management practices may be worthwhile.

Major references

  • Hepper, F.N., 1968. Marantaceae. In: Hepper, F.N. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 3, part 1. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 79–89.
  • Koechlin, J., 1964. Marantacées. Flore du Gabon. Volume 9. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. pp. 91–158.
  • Lubini, A., 1994. Utilisation de plantes par les Yansi del’entre Kwilu-Kasai (Zaire). In: Seyani, J.H. & Chikuni, A.C. (Editors). Proceedings of the 13th plenary meeting of AETFAT, Zomba, Malawi. Volume 1. National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens of Malawi, Zomba, Malawi. pp. 53–74.
  • Milne-Redhead, E., 1950. Notes on African Marantaceae I. Kew Bulletin 5(2): 157–163.
  • White, L.J.T., Rogers, M.E., Tutin, C.E.G., Williamson, E.A. & Fernandez, M., 1995. Herbaceous vegetation in different forest types in the Lopé Reserve, Gabon: implications for keystone food availability. African Journal of Ecology 33(2): 124–141.

Other references

  • Bouquet, A., 1969. Féticheurs et médecines traditionnelles du Congo (Brazzaville). Mémoires ORSTOM No 36. Office de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique Outre-Mer. Paris, France. 282 pp.
  • Dowsett-Lemaire, F., 1996. Composition et évolution de la végétation forestière au Parc National d’Odzala, Congo. Bulletin du Jardin Botanique National de Belgique 65: 253–292.
  • Evrard, C. & Bamps, P., 1959. Révision du genre Haumania J. Léonard (Marantaceae) au Congo Belge. Bulletin du Jardin botanique de l’État a Bruxelles 29(4): 367–375.
  • Koni Muluwa, J. & Bostoen, K., 2008. Noms et usages des plantes utiles chez les Nsong (RD Congo, Bandundu, bantu B85F). Göteborg Africana Informal Series No 6. Department of Oriental and African Languages, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. 65 pp.
  • Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
  • Raponda-Walker, A. & Sillans, R., 1961. Les plantes utiles du Gabon. Paul Lechevalier, Paris, France. 614 pp.
  • Reinartz G.E., Inogwabini, B.I., Ngamankosi, M. & Wema Wema, L., 2006. Effects of forest type and human presence on bonobo (Pan paniscus) density in the Salonga National Park. International Journal of Primatology 27(2): 603–634.
  • Takeda, J., 1990. The dietary repertory of the Ngandu people of the tropical rain forest: an ecological and anthropological study of the subsistence activities and food procurement technology of a slash-and-burn agriculturist in the Zaire river basin. African Study Monographs, Supplement 11: 1–75.
  • Takeda, J., 1996. The Ngandu as hunters in the Zaïre River Basin. African Study Monographs, Supplement 23: 1–61.
  • Terashima, H., Kalala, S. & Malasi, N., 1991. Ethnobotany of the Lega in the tropical rain forest of eastern Zaire: part one, zone de Mwenga. African Study Monographs, Supplement 15: 1–61.


  • M. Brink, PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article

Brink, M., 2010. Haumania liebrechtsiana (De Wild. & T.Durand) J.Léonard. [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 7 March 2020.