Hippocratea myriantha (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
List of species

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Hippocratea myriantha Oliv.

Protologue: Fl. trop. Afr. 1: 369 (1868).
Family: Celastraceae (Hippocrateaceae)
Chromosome number: 2n = 56

Origin and geographic distribution

Hippocratea myriantha is distributed from Guinea to Ghana and from Nigeria to the Central African Republic, DR Congo and Angola.


In DR Congo the stems are used for tying. Because of the considerable strength they are specifically used to lash oil presses.

In traditional medicine in Congo a teaspoon of dried, pulverized leaves is eaten 3 times per week and the abdomen is massaged with the powder to ease childbirth. It helps to induce labour as it stimulates contractions of the muscles of the uterus. The dried and pulverized leaves are taken against high blood pressure. The powdered bark is used in mixtures for the treatment of dysentery, and the powdered bark and roots in mixtures against headache and painful ribs.


The wood of Hippocratea myriantha is very hard.


A tall liana up to 45 m tall; old main stem with 4 ridges, up to 10 cm in diameter; bark greyish; young branches opposite, glabrous, glaucous whitish blue. Leaves opposite, simple; stipules early caducous, leaving a scar surrounding the stem; petiole 5–13(–20) mm long; blade obovate to ovate, 4–15 cm × 2.5–8 cm, cuneate, obtuse to rounded at base, acuminate to truncate at apex, margin entire or faintly serrate, discolorous, glossy above, with 4–9 pairs of secondary veins. Inflorescence an axillary panicle consisting of paired cymes, dense, soft-hairy, whitish; peduncle of cymes 3–8 cm long, with up to 8 branches. Flowers bisexual, crowded in inflorescence, yellowish or white, 1.5–4 mm in diameter; pedicel 1–2.5 mm long; calyx with 5 equal lobes, soft-hairy; petals 5, free, deltate, 1–1.5 mm long, hairy inside; disk ring-shaped, glabrous, white or green; stamens 3, filaments short, short-hairy; ovary short-hairy, 3-celled, style 3-lobed, very short. Fruit consisting of up to 3 dry, dehiscent, flat mericarps, glaucous when immature, 5–10 cm × 2–3 cm, each 6-seeded. Seeds 4.5–6 cm long, with an oblong, glabrous wing with a marginal and an almost median vein. Seedling with hypogeal germination.

Hippocratea comprises 3 species with 2 of them in tropical Africa. Hippocratea vignei Hoyle is very similar to Hippocratea myriantha and is distributed from Guinea to Ghana. Many other species have been described in or assigned to the genus but these have ended up in the synonymy of species in related genera. The third species, Hippocratea volubilis L., is distributed in Central and South America.

In West Africa Hippocratea myriantha flowers in December–June.


Hippocratea myriantha occurs from sea-level up to 1350 m altitude, usually in wet forest, sometimes inundated part of the year, but also in degraded and gallery forest.

Genetic resources

Hippocratea myriantha does not seem to be under serious threat by overexploitation or habitat loss.


Hippocratea myriantha will remain useful as a local source of tying material, but no expansion of the use for its fibres or medicinal applications is foreseen.

Major references

  • 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.
  • Hallé, N., 1962. Monographie des Hippocratéacées d'Afrique occidentale. Mémoires de l' Institut Francais d'Afrique Noire 64: 1–245.
  • Hallé, N., 1986. Celastraceae, 2ème partie: Hippocrateoideae. Flore du Gabon. Volume 29. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. 287 pp.
  • Wilczek, R., 1960. Celastraceae. 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 9. Institut National pour l’Étude Agronomique du Congo belge, Brussels, Belgium. pp. 113–132.

Other references

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bouquet, A. & Debray, M., 1974. Plantes médicinales de la Côte d’Ivoire. Travaux et Documents No 32. ORSTOM, Paris, France. 231 pp.
  • Diafouka, A. & Lejoly, J., 1996. Plantes hypotensives utilisées en médecine traditionnelle à Brazzaville (Congo). In: Schröder, E., Balansard, G., Cabalion, P., Fleurentin, J. & Mazars, G. (Editors). Médicaments et aliments: approche ethnopharmacologique. Actes du 2e Colloque Européen d’Ethnopharmacologie et de la 1le Conférence Internationale d’Ethnomédecine. Heidelberg (Allemagne), 24–27 mars 1993. ORSTOM Editions, Paris, France. pp. 275–276.
  • 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. & Blakelock, R.A., 1958. Celastraceae. In: Keay, R.W.J. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 1, part 2. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 623–634.
  • Lebrun, J.P. & Stork, A.L., 2010. Tropical flowering plants; ecology and distribution. Volume 5: Buxaceae-Simaroubaceae. Editions des Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la ville de Genève, Switzerland. 415 pp.
  • Mangenot, S. & Mangenot, G., 1957. Nombres chromosomiques nouveaux chez diverses Dicotyledones et Monocotyledones d'Afrique occidentale. Bulletin du Jardin Botanique de l'Etat (Bruxelles) 27(4): 639–654.


  • 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. Hippocratea myriantha Oliv. [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.