Pavonia urens (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
Introduction
List of species


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Pavonia urens Cav.


Protologue: Diss. 3: 137 (1787).
Family: Malvaceae
Chromosome number: 2n = 56

Synonyms

  • Pavonia bojeri Baker (1882),
  • Pavonia ruwenzoriensis De Wild. (1922).

Origin and geographic distribution

Pavonia urens is widely distributed in tropical Africa, from Guinea disjunctly eastwards to Ethiopia and Eritrea and southwards to Tanzania, Zambia and Angola. It also occurs in Madagascar and Réunion.

Uses

The bark is commonly used for making string and cordage. In Kenya the bark is used for making baskets. The wood is used for roof rods and as fuelwood. The leaves are browsed by sheep and goats, and are fed to calves. In Kenya the leaves are used for cleaning the hands and utensils, and they are used as toilet paper for infants. The flowers may be cooked as a vegetable. The plant has ornamental value.

Pavonia urens is widely used in African traditional medicine. In DR Congo the scraped and softened root is applied on wounds, and the leaves are boiled in water after which the warm leaf is used to pat the eyes in case of weak eyesight. In Burundi the pounded roots and leaves are applied as dressings on fractures and dislocations, a decoction of the roots and leaves is given for the treatment of diarrhoea in babies, a leaf decoction is taken against cough and insanity, a leaf infusion is drunk against nausea and abdominal pain during pregnancy and leaf powder is taken as an oxytocic. In case of sterility, sap from leafy twigs is used as a wash and pulverized leaves are taken. In Ethiopia root powder is taken orally against impotence, and leaf preparations are applied on ulcers. In Tanzania root preparations are taken for the treatment of stomach problems and pneumonia; the crushed leaf is also taken against stomach problems. In Madagascar the root is used against stomach-ache and a decoction of the aerial parts is inhaled in case of fever.

Properties

Fibre strands from Uganda investigated in the 1950s were pale green to greyish cream and 1–2.5 m long. The ultimate fibres were (1.3–)2.2–2.5(–6.2) mm long and (12–)17.4–19.4(–30) μm in diameter, with a cell wall thickness of (4.3–)7.6–8.9(–12.9) μm and an average lumen width of 1.5 μm. The tensile strength of the dry fibre was 54.9–66.2 kg/mm². The fineness and strength of the fibre compared unfavourably with jute fibre, and the quality more resembled that of kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) fibre.

Methanol, ethyl-acetate and water extracts of the root have shown antifungal and antibacterial activity.

Adulterations and substitutes

Many other Malvaceae are used for making cordage, for instance Triumfetta cordifolia A.Rich. and Urena lobata L.

Description

Shrubby herb or shrub up to 3(–4.5) m tall; branches and leaves bearing irritating stellate and simple hairs, rarely glabrescent. Leaves alternate, simple, stipules linear to lanceolate; petiole up to 23 cm long; blade cordate to reniform in outline, shallowly to deeply 3–7-lobed, 4.5–23 cm × 5.5–24 cm, lobes triangular, acute to acuminate at the apex, or some leaves narrowly triangular and cordate at the base or lanceolate, margin coarsely toothed; upper surface densely pilose to velvety with simple and stellate hairs, lower surface densely pilose to velvety. Flowers solitary in leaf axils or in dense clusters, forming spike-like panicles, bisexual, regular; pedicel up to 8 mm long; epicalyx bracts 8–10, linear, 5–11 mm × 0.5–1 mm, appressed to calyx; calyx 5-lobed, 6–8 mm long, with long simple hairs; petals 5, free but adnate to the base of the staminal column, 15–35 mm long, pink to red or purple, darker at the base; staminal column truncate, 10–20(–26) mm long; ovary superior, style branches 10. Fruit a subglobose schizocarp of 5 follicle-like sections (mericarps); mericarps 5–6 mm long, with 3 apical, retrorsely barbed awns (3–)5–8 mm long. Seeds reniform, 3–4 mm long, brown.

Other botanical information

Pavonia comprises c. 200 species, distributed in the tropics and subtropics, the largest number in South America. Pavonia schimperiana Hochst. ex A.Rich. is a shrubby herb or shrub up to 3.5(–5) m tall, distributed from Côte d’Ivoire eastwards to southern Sudan and Ethiopia, and southwards to DR Congo, Tanzania and Angola. In Eritrea and Ethiopia fibre from the bark is used for cordage. It is sometimes considered as conspecific with Pavonia urens, but is easily distinguished by its white petals with dark red or purple base. Pavonia burchellii (DC.) R.A.Dyer is a shrubby herb or shrub up to 2 m tall, distributed from Cameroon eastwards to Ethiopia and Eritrea and southwards through East Africa to South Africa. It also occurs in Arabia. In Rwanda in the 1950s fresh, defoliated stems collected from the wild yielded 2.7–2.9% fibre after 8–9 days of retting. The fruit is said to be edible. In Uganda a paste of pounded leaves is dried and pulverized and taken for the treatment of infrequent menstruation. In southern Africa root decoctions are taken for the treatment of stomach problems and chest pain, and to increase virility. Pavonia senegalensis (Cav.) Leistner (synonym: Pavonia hirsuta Guill. & Perr.) is a perennial herb or shrub up to 125 cm tall. It is widely distributed in the drier parts of tropical Africa, from Senegal eastwards to Sudan and southwards to Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. In Cameroon the bark is used as rough cordage. In West Africa fibre from the bark is spun into fishing-tackle. Straight stems are used as arrow-shafts. The mucilaginous root is added to milk for acceleration butter production during churning. Mucilage from the root is mixed with mud and used for daubing hut-walls. In Namibia the root is used for tanning leather for skirts. The roots are used in preparations for the treatment of diarrhoea, syphilis and venereal discharges. In Botswana a cold water infusion of the dry root is taken to induce labour and ease delivery. The plant has ornamental value.

Growth and development

In West Africa flowering is in September–January, in Tanzania in April and in Réunion in March–July.

Ecology

Pavonia urens occurs at 600–3000(–3500) m altitude, in forest margins and clearings, riverine forest, swamp forest, bushland, grassland, secondary vegetation, abandoned farmland, along roads and in waste places. It is also a weed in farmland.

Propagation and planting

Pavonia urens is collected from the wild. The 1000-seed weight is 12–17 g.

Yield

In Rwanda in the 1950s fresh, defoliated stems collected from the wild yielded 3.0% fibre after 7 days of retting, while in planting experiments yields were obtained of 1136 kg fibre per ha, with the fresh, defoliated stems yielding 3.8% fibre after 11 days of retting.

Handling after harvest

In Uganda the retting time needed is 7–15 days. In Madagascar the stems and large branches are retted for 2–3 days until the bark is easy to remove. The bark is then beaten on a stone to free the fibre, which is washed with soap. After being dried in the shade the fibre is ready to be spun.

Genetic resources

In view of its widespread distribution and wide range of habitats, including disturbed locations, Pavonia urens is not threatened with genetic erosion.

Prospects

Pavonia urens is a useful local source of cordage fibre. It is unlikely to become of commercial importance, because of the quality of the fibre and the presence of irritating hairs on the plant.

Major references

  • 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.
  • de Boer, H.J., Kool, A., Broberg, A., Mziray, W.R., Hedberg, I. & Levensfors, J.L., 2005. Anti-fungal and anti-bacterial activity of some herbal remedies from Tanzania. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96: 461–469.
  • Feuell, A.J. & Jarman, C.G., 1951. Pavonia urens fibre from Uganda. Colonial Plant and Animal Products 2: 306–309.
  • Kirby, R.H., 1963. Vegetable fibres: botany, cultivation, and utilization. Leonard Hill, London, United Kingdom & Interscience Publishers, New York, United States. 464 pp.
  • Latham, P., 2007. Plants visited by bees and other useful plants of Umalila, southern Tanzania. Third edition. P.Latham, DFID, United Kingdom. 216 pp.
  • Lejeune, J.B.H., 1953. Contribution à l'étude des plantes à fibres, à Rubona. Bulletin Agricole du Congo Belge 44: 743–772.
  • Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
  • Thulin, M., 1999. Malvaceae. In: Thulin, M. (Editor). Flora of Somalia. Volume 2. Angiospermae (Tiliaceae-Apiaceae). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. pp. 40–83.
  • Verdcourt, B. & Mwachala, G.M., 2009. Malvaceae. In: Beentje, H.J. & Ghazanfar, S.A. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 169 pp.
  • Vollesen, K., 1995. Malvaceae. In: Edwards, S., Mesfin Tadesse & Hedberg, I. (Editors). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Volume 2, part 2. Canellaceae to Euphorbiaceae. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Department of Systematic Botany, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. pp. 190–256.

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.
  • Auquier, P. & Renard, R., 1975. Chromosome numbers of some angiosperms from Rwanda Burundi and Kivu, Zaire. Part 1. Bulletin du Jardin Botanique National de Belgique 45(3–4): 421–445.
  • Beentje, H.J., 1994. Kenya trees, shrubs and lianas. National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya. 722 pp.
  • Decary, R., 1946. Plantes et animaux utiles de Madagascar. Annales du Musée Colonial de Marseille, 54e année, 6e série, 4e volume, 1er et dernier fascicule. 234 pp.
  • Hauman, L. & Wouters, W., 1963. Malvaceae. 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 10. Institut National pour l’Étude Agronomique du Congo belge, Brussels, Belgium. pp. 92–190.
  • Ichikawa, M., 1987. A preliminary report on the ethnobotany of the Suiei Dorobo in northern Kenya. African Study Monographs, Supplement 7: 1–52.
  • Irvine, F.R., 1961. Woody plants of Ghana, with special reference to their uses. Oxford University Press, London, United Kingdom. 868 pp.
  • Jansen, P.C.M., 1981. Spices, condiments and medicinal plants in Ethiopia, their taxonomy and agricultural significance. Agricultural Research Reports 906. Centre for Agricultural Publishing and Documentation, Wageningen, Netherlands. 327 pp.
  • Keay, R.W.J., 1958. Malvaceae. 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. 335–350.
  • Kokwaro, J.O., 1993. Medicinal plants of East Africa. 2nd Edition. Kenya Literature Bureau, Nairobi, Kenya. 401 pp.
  • Liu, K., Eastwood, R.J., Flynn, S., Turner, R.M. & Stuppy, W.H., 2008. Pavonia urens. [Internet] Seed Information Database Release 7.1, May 2008. http://data.kew.org/sid/. January 2010.
  • Marais, W. & Friedmann, F., 1987. Malvacées. In: Bosser, J., Cadet, T., Guého, J. & Marais, W. (Editors). Flore des Mascareignes. Familles 51–62. The Sugar Industry Research Institute, Mauritius, l’Office de la Recherche Scientifique Outre-Mer, Paris, France & Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 57 pp.
  • Mauersberger, H.R. (Editor), 1954. Textile fibers: their physical, microscopic and chemical properties. 6th Edition. John Wiley & Sons, New York, United States. 1283 pp.
  • Maundu, P., Berger, D., Saitabau, C., Nasieku, J., Kipelian, M., Mathenge, S., Morimoto, Y. & Höft, R., 2001. Ethnobotany of the Loita Maasai. Towards community management of the forest of the Lost Child. Experiences from the Loita Ethnobotany Project. UNESCO People and Plants Working Paper 8, Paris, France. 34 pp.
  • Medina, J.C., 1959. Plantas fibrosas da flora mundial. Instituto Agronômico Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil. 913 pp.
  • Rasoanaivo, P., Petitjean, A., Ratsimamanga-Urverg, S. & Rakoto-Ratsimamanga, A., 1992. Medicinal plants used to treat malaria in Madagascar. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 37: 117–127.
  • Ravaoarimanana, L.E., 2005. Maux d’estomac. Fanomezan-danja ny fomba « Ady Gasy » boky faha 3: 11–14.
  • Teklehaymanot, T. & Giday, M., 2007. Ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used by people in Zegie Peninsula, Northwestern Ethiopia. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 3: 12.
  • van Wyk, B.E. & Gericke, N., 2000. People’s plants: a guide to useful plants of southern Africa. Briza Publications, Pretoria, South Africa. 351 pp.
  • Yamada, T., 1999. A report of the ethnobotany of the Nyindu in the eastern part of the former Zaire. African Study Monographs 20(1): 1–72.

Sources of illustration

  • Vollesen, K., 1995. Malvaceae. In: Edwards, S., Mesfin Tadesse & Hedberg, I. (Editors). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Volume 2, part 2. Canellaceae to Euphorbiaceae. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Department of Systematic Botany, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. pp. 190–256.

Author(s)

  • V.A. Kémeuzé, Millennium Ecologic Museum, B.P. 8038, Yaoundé, Cameroon
  • B.A. Nkongmeneck, Millennium Ecologic Museum, B.P. 8038, Yaoundé, Cameroon

Correct citation of this article

Kémeuzé, V.A. & Nkongmeneck, B.A., 2011. Pavonia urens Cav. [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 12 November 2020.