Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 36: 60 (1905).
2n = 14
Aloe barteri Baker (1860) p.p.
Origin and geographic distribution
Aloe buettneri is restricted to West Africa, where it occurs from Senegal to Nigeria. In this region it is locally cultivated.
Aloe buettneri is widely used as a medicinal plant. The leaves are applied externally for all kinds of skin trouble: burns, wounds, insect bites, Guinea worm sores and vitiligo. Internally, the leaf sap is taken to treat intestinal and uro-genital problems. In Burkina Faso the dried powdered leaves are taken to treat malaria, while in Côte d’Ivoire and Togo the roots are used for this purpose. Throughout West Africa, decoctions of bulbs and roots are taken to cure liver problems, especially jaundice. Decoctions of leaves, roots and whole plants are taken as a laxative, to treat stomach-ache and to get rid of internal parasites. Rheumatism is treated with leaf ash. A leaf decoction is drunk to cure cough. A decoction of the chopped whole plant is taken to treat venereal diseases and infertility in women. A leaf decoction is applied for treating cancer. In Senegal a leaf decoction is added to the drinking water of poultry to prevent avian cholera. In Nigeria leaf sap is given to cattle as an anthelmintic.
The methanol extract of the dried leaf exudate of Aloe buettneri or the related Aloe schweinfurthii Baker showed significant in-vivo activity against helminthiasis caused by Nippostrongylus sp. in rats.
Succulent perennial herb up to 80 cm tall, without stem, usually solitary, rarely suckering, with a bulb. Leaves about 16 in a rosette, erect to spreading; stipules absent; petiole absent; blade triangular, 30–50 cm × 10 cm, apex acuminate, margin hard and tough, with firm white to pale pink sharp teeth 3–4 mm long, 1–1.5 cm apart, blade with scattered whitish spots. Inflorescence consisting of cylindrical-conical to almost head-like racemes 15 cm × 7 cm, peduncle 70–90 cm long, with 3–5 branches; bracts deltoid-acute or lanceolate-acuminate, 10–15 mm × 6–8 mm. Flowers bisexual, regular, 3-merous; pedicel 2–2.5 cm long; perianth tubular, up to 4 cm × 1 cm, inflated around the ovary, lobes 6, c. 12 mm long, greenish yellow to dull red; stamens 6, slightly exserted; ovary superior, 3-celled, style filiform, stigma head-shaped, exserted. Fruit an ovoid capsule up to 4 cm long, dehiscing loculicidally, many-seeded.
Aloe comprises about 450 species in Africa and Arabia, of which c. 315 occur in mainland Africa, c. 100 are endemic to Madagascar or the Indian Ocean islands (including the former Lomatophyllum) and c. 50 occur in Arabia.
In West Africa 3 indigenous Aloe species are distinguished: Aloe buettneri, Aloe schweinfurthii Baker and Aloe macrocarpa Tod. The name Aloe barteri Baker has long been used as a name for all West African Aloe, but the name was based on a mixture of plant parts of Aloe buettneri and Aloe schweinfurthii. In West Africa, the distribution of Aloe schweinfurthii largely overlaps with that of Aloe buettneri, but the former species also occurs in DR Congo, Sudan and Uganda. Aloe schweinfurthii differs from Aloe buettneri in lacking a bulb, its smaller fruits and the presence of suckers. Aloe schweinfurthii is cultivated locally for its medicinal uses. It has the same uses as Aloe buettneri. Aloe macrocarpa is widely distributed in West Africa and extends east to Eritrea and Djibouti. In Eritrea the leaf exudate is used medicinally and the plant is planted on contours for soil conservation. In West Africa the flowers are eaten as a vegetable. In western DR Congo the leaf sap of Aloe congolensis De Wild. & T.Durand is traditionally used to cure sores, wounds, burns, pain in the joints, inflammation of the breast and as a laxative, whereas dried and powdered leaves are said to prevent cancer of the colon and rectum. Aloe congolensis appears closely related to Aloe buettneri and is possibly synonymous.
Aloe buettneri occurs in grassland and woodland at 250–900 m altitude.
Although Aloe buettneri is sometimes cultivated, no details of its husbandry have been published. Most harvesting is done from wild plants.
Genetic resources and breeding
Like all Aloe species except Aloe vera (L.) Burm.f., Aloe buettneri is listed by CITES and trade in plants and plant parts is restricted, although there must be numerous plants in botanical gardens and private succulent collections and there are no indications that the species is threatened in the wild.
Aloe buettneri will probably remain locally important as a medicinal plant. Pharmacological work on West African Aloe species has been limited so far and further work is warranted. Related Aloe species of Central Africa are in need of taxonomic study.
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Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2006. Aloe buettneri A.Berger. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.