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Alafia nigrescens Pichon

Bull. Jard. Bot. Etat 24: 148, f. 16 (1954).
Origin and geographic distribution
Alafia nigrescens is endemic to northern Madagascar.
The long stems provide a tenacious binding material traditionally used in the construction of houses and bridges.
Production and international trade
The stems are only used locally.
Large, laticiferous liana. Leaves opposite, simple and entire; petiole 3.5–7 mm long, base broadened and surrounding the stipules; stipules forming a semi-collar; blade elliptical, 6–11 cm × 3–4.5 cm, base somewhat rounded and angular, apex acuminate, thin, lateral veins in 7–10 pairs, straight, connected by a submarginal vein. Inflorescence a few-flowered, lax, terminal cyme on an indeterminate flowering branch; peduncle 1–7 mm long; bracts c. 1 mm long. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous; pedicel 2.5–4 mm long; sepals ovate, 1.5–2 mm long, with stipitate glands on the inside; corolla white, tube cylindrical, 5.4–6.7 mm × 1.5 mm, base swollen, narrower at the throat, with 5 thickened bands from throat to base of lobes, lobes linear-oblong, 6–8 mm × 1.5–3 mm; stamens inserted at base of corolla tube, filaments short, anthers arrow-shaped, 3–4 mm long; ovary superior, of 2 free carpels, broadly conical, c. 0.8 mm long. Fruits unknown.
Flowering occurs from October to December.
Alafia comprises 23 species, 15 of which occur in continental Africa and 8 in Madagascar.
Alafia nigrescens occurs from sea-level up to 500 m altitude in shady or open places in dry to humid forest.
Alafia nigrescens only occurs wild. The stems are sometimes passed through fire before use.
Genetic resources and breeding
Alafia nigrescens is a rare plant, collected from only a few locations. However, it is not listed in the IUCN Red list. It is protected in two conservation areas.
Little is known about Alafia nigrescens, making it difficult to assess it prospects. It is likely, however, that the plant will remain of occasional local importance only.
Major references
• Boiteau, P., Boiteau, M. & Allorge-Boiteau, L., 1999. Dictionnaire des noms malgaches de végétaux. 4 Volumes + Index des noms scientifiques avec leurs équivalents malgaches. Editions Alzieu, Grenoble, France.
• Leeuwenberg, A.J.M., 1997. Series of revisions of Apocynaceae 43. Alafia Thouars. Kew Bulletin 52(4): 769–839.
• Markgraf, F., 1976. Apocynaceae. Flore de Madagascar et des Comores, famille 169. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. 318 pp.
Other references
• Pichon, M., 1954. Révision du genre Alafia Thou. Bulletin du Jardin Botanique de l’État (Bruxelles) 24: 129–222.
• Watson, L. & Dallwitz, M.J., 1992–. The families of flowering plants: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. [Internet]. Accessed September 2009.
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

M. Brink
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
E.G. Achigan Dako
PROTA Network Office Africa, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), P.O. Box 30677-00100, Nairobi, Kenya

Correct citation of this article:
Oyen, L.P.A., 2010. Alafia nigrescens Pichon. In: Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). Prota 16: Fibres/Plantes à fibres. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.