Millettia barteri (PROTA)
Millettia barteri (Benth.) Dunn
- Protologue: Journ. Bot. 49: 221 (1911).
- Family: Papilionaceae (Leguminosae - Papilionoideae, Fabaceae)
- Chromosome number: 2n = 20
- Lonchocarpus barteri Benth. (1860).
Origin and geographic distribution
Millettia barteri is distributed in tropical and subtropical Africa; it has been reported from Senegal eastwards to Sudan and southwards to Angola.
The main stems are very strong and used as cables for boats and hauling timber logs. In Ghana and DR Congo the stems are used for binding in house construction. Very strong fibres are extracted from the bark and are used to make animal traps. Stem fibre is sold for use as a sponge for scrubbing. The stem yields potable water when cut.
Ground twigs are macerated and subsequently drunk as a purgative. Powdered bark is taken as a snuff for headache and sinusitis in Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria. Leaf sap is used topically for the treatment of inflammation of the ear, toothache, and filariasis in the eyes. To mature abscesses a dressing of pulped leaves is applied. Leaf pulp is rubbed on the skin in case of pulmonary complaints, bronchitis and stiffness. A root decoction is drunk to cure cardiac troubles. The pounded stem or twigs, finely cut stem, macerated bark and leaves are used as a fish poison.
The seeds of Millettia barteri contain homoarginine and γ-hydroxyhomoarginine.
Large liana over 30 m long, rarely a shrub or small tree; stem longitudinally ridged, up to 10 cm in diameter; bark thick, surface rough, furrowed with small and inconspicuous lenticels, purplish, glabrous; young twigs finely hairy. Leaves alternate, imparipinnately compound with 2–7 pairs of leaflets; stipules early caducous; petiole up to 12 cm long, rachis up to 13 cm long, yellow; stipels absent; petiolules 6 mm long; leaflets opposite, elliptical or elliptical-oblong, up to 15 cm × 8 cm, abruptly and obtusely acuminate at apex, sparsely hairy below. Inflorescence a terminal or axillary, slender panicle 15–60 cm long, with or without branches up to 16 cm long. Flowers bisexual, papilionaceous, scented; pedicel up to 2 mm long; calyx campanulate, 3–4 mm long, truncated; corolla pale pinkish to red, turning violet when ageing, standard orbicular, soft-hairy on the outside, 12–15 mm in diameter, wings and keel 8–10 mm long; stamens 10, 9 fused, 1 free; ovary superior, hairy, style slender, curved, hairy at base. Fruit a linear, flat pod 7 cm × 2 cm, with thickened margin, brown-hairy, indehiscent, 1–3-seeded. Seeds ovoid, flattened, 15–18 mm × 20–22 mm, smooth, dark brown.
Millettia comprises about 150 species, most of them (about 90) in mainland Africa, 8 endemic to Madagascar, and about 50 in tropical Asia. It is in need of revision and should be split into several genera on the basis of molecular evidence.
The stems of Millettia comosa (Micheli) Hauman (synonym: Millettia gagnepainiana Dunn), a liana occurring in Gabon, Congo and western DR Congo, are used for tying in Gabon. A decoction of the twigs is gargled in case of toothache. In DR Congo the stems of both Millettia macroura Harms and Millettia theuszii (Büttn.) De Wild. are used for construction and for tying and both are important as bee forage.
Millettia barteri is restricted to river banks, swamp forest and temporarily flooded forest.
Since Millettia barteri is widespread and not heavily exploited there is no reason to assume the species will be threatened in the near future. Research is needed on the medicinal aspects to be able to assess its value in this respect.
Locally Millettia barteri will continue to be used as one of the strongest lianas available.
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- N. Nyunaï, Institut de Recherches Médicales et d’Etudes des Plantes Médicinales, B.P. 3805, Yaoundé, Cameroon
Correct citation of this article
Nyunaï, N., 2011. Millettia barteri (Benth.) Dunn. [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 December 2020.
- See the Prota4U database.