Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Meded. Landbouwhogeschool. 71(18): 64 (1971).
Origin and geographic distribution
Adenia racemosa is endemic to Tanzania.
In Tanzania a bark decoction is drunk to treat menorrhagia. A leaf decoction is drunk to treat mental illness. The tubers are used to treat chickenpox. The flexible stems are used as string. Adenia racemosa is also used for fodder and is grown for ornamental purposes in greenhouses in temperate regions.
Production and international trade
Adenia racemosa is collected, traded and grown as an ornamental by plant amateurs.
Few phytochemical analyses have been done on Adenia racemosa. The stem bark contains flavonoids, saponins and tannins, but no cyanoglycosides have been reported. Recently, ribosome-inactivating proteins have been isolated.
Monoecious climber up to 8 m tall, with a swollen, globular trunk; stems with simple tendrils 8–12 cm long. Leaves alternate, deeply (3–)5(–7)-lobed; petiole 1.5–5.5 cm long; stipules broadly triangular, c. 1 mm long, acute; blade orbicular to broadly ovate in outline, 3–10 cm × 3–10 cm, base cordate to truncate, lobes triangular to elliptical, up to 5 cm long, acute to rounded. Inflorescence in the axils of much reduced leaves on short shoots, up to 7-flowered; peduncle 0.5–4 mm long; bracts and bracteoles triangular to oblong, c. 1 mm long. Flowers unisexual, regular, 5-merous, greenish to yellowish; pedicel up to 1 cm long, jointed near base; calyx tube much shorter than lobes; petals free, exserted, entire, corona consisting of lobes or a lobed rim present; male flowers c. 1 cm long, filaments of stamens fused at base, anthers free, ovary rudimentary; female flowers c. 0.5 cm long, ovary superior, ovoid, styles 3, free, stigmas globular to kidney-shaped, papillate, stamens rudimentary. Fruit a stalked ovoid-ellipsoid capsule 2–3 cm × 1.5–2 cm, woody to leathery, red, many-seeded. Seeds broadly ovoid, flattened, c. 6.5 mm × 5.5 mm × 3 mm, coarsely banded or pitted.
Adenia comprises about 95 species, with about 60 species on the African continent, 20 in Madagascar and 15 in Asia. The genus is subdivided in 6 sections. Adenia racemosa and some other species with medicinal uses belong to section Microblepharis. Adenia aculeata (Oliv.) Engl. occurs in Ethiopia, Somalia and north-eastern Kenya. In Somalia the fresh root of Adenia aculeata is boiled in water, the decoction is filtered and drunk to treat gastritis. Like Adenia racemosa, Adenia aculeata is collected, traded and grown as an ornamental.
Adenia racemosa occurs in regenerating bush at c. 1000 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Adenia racemosa is a rare species and because of its limited area of distribution, it is liable to genetic erosion.
Because of its rarity it seems likely that Adenia racemosa will remain of limited use only. The wild population needs to be protected and care should be taken with uprooting plants for trade as ornamentals.
• Chhabra, S.C., Mahunnah, R.L.A. & Mshiu, E.N., 1991. Plants used in traditional medicine in eastern Tanzania. 5. Angiosperms (Passifloraceae to Sapindaceae). Journal of Ethnopharmacology 33: 143–157.
• de Wilde, W.J.J.O., 1971. A monograph of the genus Adenia Forsk. (Passifloraceae). Mededelingen Landbouwhogeschool Wageningen 71–18. Wageningen, Netherlands. 281 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Ruffo, C.K., Birnie, A. & Tengnäs, B., 2002. Edible wild plants of Tanzania. Technical Handbook No 27. Regional Land Management Unit/ SIDA, Nairobi, Kenya. 766 pp.
• Pelosi, E., Lubelli, C., Polito, L., Barbieri, L., Bolognesi, A. & Stirpe, F., 2005. Ribosome-inactivating proteins and other lectins from Adenia (Passifloraceae). Toxicon 46(6): 658–663.
• Samuelsson, G., Farah, M.H., Claeson, P., Hagos, M., Thulin, M., Hedberg, O., Warfa, A.M., Hassan, A.O., Elmi, A.H., Abdurahman, A.D., Elmi, A.S., Abdi, Y.A. & Alin, M.H., 1993. Inventory of plants used in traditional medicine in Somalia. 4. Plants of the families Passifloraceae to Zygophyllaceae. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 38: 1–29.
Correct citation of this article:
de Ruijter, A., 2007. Adenia racemosa W.J.de Wilde. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.