Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Kew Bull. 30(1): 83 (1975).
Epinetrum delagoense (N.E.Br.) Diels (1910).
Origin and geographic distribution
Albertisia delagoensis occurs in Mozambique and eastern South Africa.
In Mozambique the root of Albertisia delagoensis is used to treat fever. In South Africa a root extract is taken to treat diarrhoea, vomiting, menstrual pain, chest problems, body pain caused by influenza, back pain and antenatal problems, and it is used as an anthelmintic, appetite stimulant and to improve sexual performance in men. A root and leaf extract is given orally to babies for cleansing the stomach. The ash of burnt roots is applied to heal sores.
The stems and roots of Albertisia delagoensis contain as major compounds the bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloids O-methylcocsoline and cissacapine, and small amounts of cocsoline, cocsuline, cycleanine and 2 unidentified alkaloids. The aporphine alkaloid dicentrine was also isolated as minor component. The leaves contain O-methylcocsoline and cycleanine and small amounts of the other alkaloids. The alkaloid yield of the roots is 1–2.2 mg/g dry weight, of the stems 0.3–0.8 mg/g and of the leaves 1.1–2.7 mg/g. The alkaloid composition varies between plants. The large amounts of alkaloids make the plant bitter, which explains its use as an appetite stimulant. Tested on chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum, methanol extracts of the leaves and roots exhibited antiplasmodial activities of IC50 4.1 μg/ml and 1.6 μg/ml, respectively. Cocsoline showed strong antiplasmodial activity (IC50 = 1 μM) in vitro; cycleanine showed selective antiplasmodial and antiprotozoal activities as well as spasmolytic activity in vitro, and also antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities. Dicentrine exhibited antibacterial and antifungal activities in vitro. In-vitro tests showed a low cytotoxicity against the Graham cell line for leaf extracts.
Dioecious small shrub or liana; branches greyish hairy. Leaves alternate, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole 1–1.5 cm long; blade oblong-elliptical to broadly elliptical, 4–9 cm × 2–5 cm, base cuneate, apex acute, mucronate, leathery, glabrous except on the veins above, short-hairy below, pinnately veined with 2–3 pairs of lateral veins, but also with 3–5 basal veins. Male inflorescence an axillary, 1–3-flowered cyme with short peduncle, female flowers solitary. Flowers unisexual, regular; pedicel 2–3.5 mm long; sepals 6 in 2 whorls, 3 outer sepals narrowly lanceolate or ovate, 1.5–2.5 mm × c. 1 mm, 3 inner sepals 4.5–6 mm × 2.5–3.5 mm; petals 6, kidney-shaped, 0.5–1 mm × 0.5–1 mm; male flowers with c. 20 stamens fused into a staminal column 3–4.5 mm long, anthers fused into a conical head c. 2 mm long; female flowers with superior ovary consisting of 6 silky hairy carpels. Fruit composed of 2–6 sessile drupes, each drupe ellipsoid, c. 2.5 cm × 1.5 cm, short-hairy, orange, 1-seeded. Seed ovoid, curved, c. 1.5 cm × 1 cm.
Albertisia comprises 18 species, 13 in Africa and 5 in tropical Asia.
Albertisia delagoensis occurs on well drained littoral sand, in open grassy fields or in open spaces between trees.
Genetic resources and breeding
Although the natural distribution of Albertisia delagoensis is restricted, it does not seem to be in danger of genetic erosion.
The low cytotoxicity of the leaf extract coupled to the significant antiplasmodial activity indicates that Albertisia delagoensis has potential as an antimalarial plant.
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• Rondanelli, R., Guaglio, R., Sartirana, E., Zizzi, E., Olliaro, P. & Benzi Cipelli, R., 1986. Evaluation of the cytotoxic activity of some alkaloids from Epinetrum delagoense Diels. I. Farmaco 41(6): 185–189.
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Correct citation of this article:
de Ruijter, A., 2008. Albertisia delagoensis (N.E.Br.) Forman. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.