Merremia aegyptia (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
Introduction
List of species


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Merremia aegyptia (L.) Urb.


Protologue: Symb. Antill. 4: 505 (1910).
Family: Convolvulaceae
Chromosome number: 2n = 28, 30

Synonyms

  • Merremia pentaphylla (L.) Hallier f. (1893).

Vernacular names

  • Hairy woodrose (En).
  • Corda de viola, jetirana, mata me embora, batatão roxo (Po).

Origin and geographic distribution

Merremia aegyptia originates from Latin America but is now widespread throughout the tropics and is found in many tropical African countries.

Uses

The stems are used for binding, for instance for frames in house building in Ghana. Some stock graze on the plant but horses do not. Merremia aegyptia causes diarrhoea in small stock when large quantities are eaten. In Nigeria the dried leaves are used as a dressing for burns.

Properties

Chlorogenic and benzoic acids, as well as a metabolite of the latter (the glycoside 1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-β-carboline-3β-carboxylic acid), have been isolated from Merremia aegyptia.

Description

Annual herb up to 6 m tall; stems slender, twining, long-hirsute. Leaves alternate, palmately compound with 5 leaflets; stipules absent; petiole 2.5–12 cm long; leaflets sessile, elliptical(-oblong), 2.5–12 cm × 1–4 cm, base acute, apex acuminate, margin entire, on both surfaces appressed hairy. Inflorescence a cyme, few to several-flowered; peduncle up to 22 cm long. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous; pedicel up to 2.5 cm long; sepals unequal, the outer 3 ovate-lanceolate, 14–25 mm long, with coarse, stiff hairs, the inner 2 shorter, ovate, glabrous; corolla funnel-shaped, up to 3.5 cm long, white, glabrous; stamens inserted at 5 mm of the base of corolla tube, filaments unequal; ovary superior, 4-celled, style slender, c. 7 mm long, stigmas 2, round. Fruit a globose capsule 1.2–1.5 cm in diameter, apiculate, glabrous, pale brown, enclosed by persistent calyx, dehiscent by 4 valves, up to 4-seeded. Seeds trigonous, c. 4 mm long, brown, glabrous.

In Benin Merremia aegyptia flowers in July and from October to December.

Merremia comprises about 80 species, widely spread in the tropics. In tropical Africa about 32 species occur with several of them introduced as ornamentals or accidentally as weeds.

Ecology

Merremia aegyptia occurs from sea-level up to 1500 m altitude. It is found in riverine vegetation, grassland, open deciduous woodland, Combretum- Terminalia woodland, open forest and as a weed in cultivated land.

Genetic resources

The centre of diversity of Merremia aegyptia is in Latin America. Populations in tropical Africa are not threatened with genetic erosion.

Prospects

Merremia aegyptia is of local importance only, and is unlikely to become more important in tropical Africa in the future. Further expansion of this introduced species should be avoided because it behaves as a weed.

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.
  • Demissew Sebsebe, 2001. A synopsis of the genus Merremia (Convolvulaceae) in the Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Kew Bulletin 56(4): 931–943.
  • Gonçalves, M.L., 1987. Convolvulaceae. In: Launert, E. (Editor). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 8, part 1. Flora Zambesiaca Managing Committee, London, United Kingdom. pp. 9–129.

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.
  • 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.
  • Baumer, M.C., 1975. Catalogue des plantes utiles du Kordofan (République du Soudan) particulièrement du point de vue pastoral. Journal d’Agriculture Tropicale et de Botanique Appliquée 22: 105.
  • Bosser, J. & Heine, H., 2000. Convolvulacées. In: Bosser, J., Cadet, T., Guého, J. & Marais, W. (Editors). Flore des Mascareignes. Familles 127–135. The Sugar Industry Research Institute, Mauritius, l’Institut pour le Développement (IRD), Paris, France & Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 63 pp.
  • Henrici, A., Kaloga, M. & Eich, E., 1995. 1,2,3,4-Tetrahydro-ß-carboline-3ß-carboxylic acid from Merremia aegyptia L. (Convolvulaceae). Book of Abstracts, 43rd Annual Congress of the Society for Medicinal Plant Research, Halle (Saale), Germany.
  • Muhammad Mansur, 2001. Merremia Dennst. ex Endl. 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. 366–373.

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., 2010. Merremia aegyptia (L.) Urb. [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.