Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Hook.f., Icon. pl. 20: t. 1992 (1890).
Origin and geographic distribution
Alafia barteri occurs in the forests of West and Central Africa, from Guinea Bissau east to Cameroon and south to Congo.
In Côte d’Ivoire a leaf infusion is used to treat malaria. In Nigeria a decoction is taken to treat rheumatic pains. The roots are used as chew sticks.
The fibre of the stems is used as binding material for roofs. The latex has been used to adulterate better latex.
Ethanol and water extracts of the leaves of Alafia barteri showed antifungal activity against Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus niger, Candida albicans, Microsporum audoninii, Trichoderma viride and Trichophyton mentagrophytes. The ethanol extracts were more effective than the water extracts.
Liana up to 35 m long, with clear sap or sometimes with white latex; stem up to 3 cm in diameter; bark pale grey-brown with many lenticels. Leaves opposite, simple and entire; stipules in axil of petiole; petiole 2–5(–8) mm long; blade elliptical to narrowly elliptical, 4–16.5 cm × 2–6.5 cm, base obtuse to cordate, apex rounded to shortly acuminate, leathery, glabrous. Inflorescence a rather lax terminal dichasial cyme, many-flowered; peduncle 5–20 mm long; bracts sepal-like. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, fragrant; pedicel 2–6 mm long; sepals free, ovate, 1.5–2 mm long, rounded or obtuse; corolla white, often with greenish tube, tube 5–8 mm long, 1–2 mm wide above the base, widening near the insertion of the stamens and narrowed towards the throat, glabrous or slightly hairy outside, inside with hairy belt below insertion of stamens, lobes obliquely orbicular to elliptical or obovate, 4.5–8 mm long, at apex rounded and often wavy, spreading, glabrous outside, hairy with curled to rather straight hairs at the part of the lobes covered in the bud and hairy inside at the base and in the upper part of the throat; stamens inserted halfway the corolla tube, just included or exserted, anthers sessile, arrow-shaped; ovary superior, ovoid, consisting of 2 separate carpels, style narrowly obconical, 2.5–3 mm long, pistil head consisting of basal ring, cylindrical part and 2-lobed stigmoid apex. Fruit consisting of 2 separate, cylindrical, linear follicles 15–50 cm × 0.5–1 cm, dehiscent, dark brown, many-seeded. Seeds narrowly ellipsoid, c. 20 mm long, at the top with a tuft of hairs c. 2.5 cm long.
Alafia comprises 23 species, 15 of which occur in continental Africa and 8 in Madagascar. Alafia benthamii (Baill.) Stapf is another species from West and Central Africa, usually found in periodically inundated riverine forest. In Sierra Leone a leaf infusion is used to treat fever.
Alafia barteri occurs in lowland forest up to 200 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Alafia barteri is widespread and there are no indications that it is threatened by genetic erosion.
Alafia barteri is a useful medicinal plant in rural communities. More information is needed to assess the pharmacological possibilities.
• 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.
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• Adekunle, A.A. & Okoli, S.O., 2002. Antifungal activity of the crude extracts of Alafia barteri Oliver (Apocynaceae) and Chasmanthera dependens Hochst. (Menispermaceae). Hamdard Medicus 45(3): 52–56.
• Osemeobo, G.J. & Ujor, G., 1999. Non-wood forest products In Nigeria. Data collection and analysis for sustainable forest management in ACP countries – Linking national and international efforts. EC-FAO partnership programme. Federal Department of Forestry, Ajuba, Nigeria. 42 pp.
• Tra Bi, F.H., Kouamé, F.N. & Traoré, D., 2005. Utilisation of climbers in two forest reserves in West Côte d’Ivoire. In: Bongers, F., Parren, M.P.E. & Traoré, D. (Editors). Forest climbing plants of West Africa. Diversity, ecology and management. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, United Kingdom. pp. 167–181.
Sources of illustration
• 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.
Correct citation of this article:
de Ruijter, A., 2006. Alafia barteri Oliv. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
1, flowering twig; 2, flower; 3, fruit.
Source: Flore analytique du Bénin
leafy branch with inflorescence
obtained from Tropicos