Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Engl. & Prantl, Nat. Pflanzenfam. 4, 2: 165 (1895).
Alafia scandens (Thonn.) De Wild. (1903).
Origin and geographic distribution
Alafia landolphioides occurs from Senegal east to the Central African Republic and northern DR Congo.
In Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana a leaf decoction of Alafia landolphioides is taken to treat rheumatism, while scraps of the residue are rubbed in to treat rheumatic spots. In Ghana the latex is used as an adhesive ingredient in arrow poison; in the Central African Republic it is also used as an ingredient of arrow poison.
Liana up to 20 m long, with white latex; stem up to 2.5 cm in diameter; bark dark brown, with pale brown lenticels. Leaves opposite, simple and entire; stipules in axil of petiole; petiole 3–7 mm long; blade elliptical to narrowly elliptical, 4–13 cm × 1.5–6.5 cm, base cuneate to rounded, apex acuminate, leathery, glabrous or hairy. Inflorescence a rather lax terminal dichasial cyme, many flowered; peduncle 3–40 mm long; bracts sepal-like. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, fragrant; pedicel 1–5 mm long; sepals free, ovate to broadly ovate, 1.5–2 mm long, obtuse or rounded; corolla white, dark red at the throat, tube 6–7 mm long, 1.5–2 mm wide above the base, slightly widening near the insertion of the stamens and narrowed towards the throat, glabrous outside, inside with hairy belt below insertion of stamens, lobes obliquely elliptical to oblong or obovate, 5.5–9 mm long, rounded, spreading, hairy near margin with long curled hairs at the part of the lobes covered in the bud; stamens inserted 1.5–3.5 mm from the base of the corolla tube, included, anthers sessile, arrowhead-shaped; ovary superior, globose, consisting of 2 separate carpels, style narrowly obconical, 2.5–3 mm long, pistil head consisting of a basal ring, cylindrical part and 2-lobed stigmoid apex. Fruit consisting of 2 separate, cylindrical, linear follicles 18–45 cm × 0.5–1.5 cm, dehiscent, dark brown, striate, glabrous, many-seeded. Seeds narrowly ellipsoid, 16–19 mm × 2–3 mm × 0.5–1 mm, with several longitudinal lines, with an acute wing 2 mm long at base, at the top with a tuft of hairs 3–5 cm long.
Alafia comprises 23 species, 15 of which occur in continental Africa and 8 in Madagascar. The seeds and roots of Alafia erythrophthalma (K.Schum.) Leeuwenb., occurring partly in the same region as Alafia landolphioides, i.e. from Nigeria east to Uganda and south to DR Congo, are used as an arrow poison ingredient in the Central African Republic and DR Congo.
Alafia landolphioides occurs in forest and savanna, up to 1000 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Although Alafia landolphioides is fairly widespread, it is locally under much pressure because of habitat destruction, e.g. in Côte d’Ivoire.
Research is needed to assess the potential of Alafia landolphioides in the treatment of rheumatic pains. Alafia landolphioides produces large amounts of fragrant flowers, and may be a potential ornamental plant.
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• 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.
• Irvine, F.R., 1961. Woody plants of Ghana, with special reference to their uses. Oxford University Press, London, United Kingdom. 868 pp.
• Kerharo, J. & Bouquet, A., 1950. Plantes médicinales et toxiques de la Côte d’Ivoire - Haute-Volta. Vigot Frères, Paris, France. 291 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Avit, J-B.L.F., Pedia, P.L. & Sankaré, Y., 1999. Diversité biologique de la Côte d’Ivoire - Rapport de synthèse. Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Forêt, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. 273 pp.
• Terashima, H. & Ichikawa, M., 2003. A comparative ethnobotany of the Mbuti and Efe hunter-gatherers in the Ituri forest, Democratic Republic of Congo. African Study Monographs 24(1–2): 1–168.
Correct citation of this article:
de Ruijter, A., 2006. Alafia landolphioides (A.DC.) Benth. & Hook.f. ex K.Schum. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.