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Anthocleista vogelii Planch.

Hook., Icon. pl. 8: t. 793 (1848).
Loganiaceae (APG: Gentianaceae)
Chromosome number
2n = 60
Vernacular names
Cabbage tree (En).
Origin and geographic distribution
Anthocleista vogelii occurs from Sierra Leone east to Kenya, and south to Zambia and Angola.
Anthocleista vogelii is widely used in West Africa as a strong purgative and diuretic. A root decoction is commonly taken to treat constipation, to regulate menstruation and as an abortifacient. It is used as a wash, bath or vapour bath to treat leprosy, venereal diseases, oedema and scrotal elephantiasis. In Sierra Leone a decoction of the roots with lemon is taken to treat hepatitis, while a decoction of dry fallen leaves is taken to treat jaundice. In Ghana a root decoction of Anthocleista vogelii and Combretum mucronatum Schumach. & Thonn. with pepper and ashes is taken to treat chest pain. In Nigeria the bark and seed are used as an antipyretic and tonic. The seed is also used as a purgative. In Congo fresh twig bark with manioc is eaten raw to treat aspermia. A stem bark decoction is taken to treat hernia and a root decoction is taken to treat stomach-ache in women, ovarian problems, venereal diseases, hernia, bronchitis and fever, and also as purgative and to induce labour. Sap of young leaves, root powder or bark pulp is used to treat sores, abscesses, as a haemostatic and for cicatrization. Sap is applied topically to treat otitis or ophthalmia. A plaster of pulp of terminal buds is used to draw out thorns or splinters and is applied to snakebites.
In Ghana the wood-ash is used as a mordant to fix colours. The wood is used to make crates. In Nigeria stems are hollowed out to make quivers. In Zambia trunks are cut for dugout canoes. In Ghana potash of the wood is used in making soap. In Congo the leaves are placed between tobacco leaves during drying to make the tobacco stronger.
Anthocleista vogelii contains the closely related secoiridoid glycosides secologanic acid, vogeloside, and sweroside. The stem bark contains the alkaloid fagaramide, the stem bark and wood several xanthones. The major xanthone of Anthocleista vogelii is decussatin and it contains the minor compounds 1,7-dihydroxy-3,8-dimethoxy-xanthone and 1, 8-dihydroxy-3,7-dimethoxy-xanthone. The latter compound showed antimalarial activity in vivo against Plasmodium berghei. Tests with aqueous, hexane, acetone and methanol extracts of the stem bark in rats showed potent anti-ulcer properties, which could explain the traditional use in the treatment of stomach-ache.
The wood is whitish, soft and perishable.
Adulterations and substitutes
Several Anthocleista species are used for similar medicinal purposes and may be used as substitutes for each other. When sold on the market it is difficult to differentiate the dried bark of the different species.
Small to medium-sized tree up to 20 m tall; bole up to 55 cm in diameter, sometimes with stilt roots; twigs with 2(–4) divergent spines confluent at base. Leaves opposite, simple and entire, almost sessile; blade oblong-ovate to oblanceolate, 15–45 cm × 6–24 cm, in young plants up to 150 cm × 45 cm, base cuneate, auricled, apex rounded, margin recurved, papery or leathery. Inflorescence an erect terminal dichasial cyme 30–50 cm long, many-flowered; peduncle and branches yellowish green or orange, thickened at the nodes. Flowers bisexual, regular; sepals 4, free, orbicular or broader than long, outer ones 4–12 mm long, inner ones about twice as long; corolla with cylindrical tube, 12–18 mm long, lobes 13–16, oblong-lanceolate, 12–19 mm long, spreading, creamy to pale yellow; stamens as many as corolla lobes and alternating with them, exserted, filaments partly or entirely fused, anthers whitish green; ovary superior, ovoid-cylindrical to ovoid-conical, 5–7 mm × 3–6 mm, 4-celled, stigma obovoid-cylindrical, apically 2-lobed. Fruit an ellipsoid berry 2.5–4.5 cm × 2–3.5 cm, rounded at apex, thick-walled, green or yellowish, many-seeded. Seeds obliquely ovoid-globose, 2–2.5 mm × 1.5–2 mm, dark brown.
Other botanical information
Anthocleista comprises 14 species and occurs in tropical Africa, including Comoros and Madagascar. The 4 species occurring in West Africa have the same vernacular names and are used by local practitioners for the same medicinal purposes.
Growth and development
In Nigeria Anthocleista vogelii flowers from October to February and from March to May; it fruits from November to March.
Anthocleista vogelii occurs in moist localities, in swamps, in Raphia groves, on river banks, in primary rainforest or secondary forest, from sea-level up to 1500 m altitude.
The leaves are collected from young trees or by climbing older ones. The bark is obtained by slashing or peeling with a cutlass. The roots are dug up when the soil is workable.
Handling after harvest
The collected material is dried in the sun and kept in wrappers or it is pounded and made into balls. Sometimes, the plant material is powdered when dry.
Genetic resources
Anthocleista vogelii occurs rather sparsely, but it is widely distributed. It is not in danger of genetic erosion.
In view of the recorded medicinal uses, more research into the chemical composition and pharmacological activities of Anthocleista vogelii is warranted.
Major references
• Abbiw, D.K., 1990. Useful plants of Ghana: West African uses of wild and cultivated plants. Intermediate Technology Publications, London and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 337 pp.
• Adjanohoun, E.J., Ahyi, A.M.R., Aké Assi, L., Baniakina, J., Chibon, P., Cusset, G., Doulou, V., Enzanza, A., Eymé, J., Goudoté, E., Keita, A., Mbemba, C., Mollet, J., Moutsamboté, J.-M., Mpati, J. & Sita, P. (Editors), 1988. Médecine traditionnelle et pharmacopée - Contribution aux études ethnobotaniques et floristiques en République Populaire du Congo. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 606 pp.
• Ateufack, G., Nguelefack, T.B., Wabo, H.K., Watcho, P., Tane, P. & Kamanyi, A., 2006. Antiulcer effects of the aqueous and organic extracts of the stem bark of Anthocleista vogelii in rats. Pharmaceutical Biology 44(3): 166–171.
• Jensen, S.R. & Schripsema, J., 2002. Chemotaxonomy and pharmacology of Gentianaceae. In: Struwe, L. & Albert, V. (Editors). Gentianaceae - Systematics and Natural History. Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom. pp. 573–631.
• Leeuwenberg, A.J.M., 1961. The Loganiaceae of Africa. 1. Anthocleista. Acta Botanica Neerlandica 10: 1–53.
• Leeuwenberg, A.J.M. (Editor), 1980. Angiospermae: Ordnung Gentiales. Fam. Loganiaceae. Die natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien. Second Edition. Band 28 b-1. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, Germany. 255 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Okorie, D.A., 1976. A new phthalide and xanthones from Anthocleista djalonensis and Anthocleista vogelii. Phytochemistry 15: 1799–1800.
• Olukoya, D.K., Idika, N. & Odugbemi, T., 1993. Antibacterial activity of some medicinal plants from Nigeria. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 39: 69–72.
Other references
• Abuh, F.Y., Wambebe, C., Rai, P.P. & Sokomba, E.N., 1990. Hypoglycaemic activity of Anthocleista vogelii (Planch) aqueous extract in rodents. Phytotherapy Research 4: 20–24.
• Bouquet, A., 1969. Féticheurs et médecines traditionnelles du Congo (Brazzaville). Mémoires ORSTOM No 36. Office de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique Outre-Mer. Paris, France. 282 pp.
• Chapelle, J.P., 1976. Vogeloside and secologanic acid, secoiridiod glucosides from Anthocleista vogelii. Planta Medica 29(2): 268–274.
• Karan, M., Bhatnagar, S., Wangtak, P. & Vasisht, K., 2005. Phytochemical and antimalarial studies on Swertia alata Royle. Acta Horticulturae 675: 139–145.
• Keay, R.W.J., 1989. Trees of Nigeria. A revised version of Nigerian trees (1960, 1964) by R.W.J. Keay, C.F.A. Onochie and D.P. Stanfield. Clarendon Press, Oxford, United Kingdom. 476 pp.
• Rai, P.P., Wambebe, O.C. & Abuh, F.Y., 1989. Some pharmacological actions of Anthocleista vogelii. Planta Medica 55: 661.
Sources of illustration
• Leeuwenberg, A.J.M., 1961. The Loganiaceae of Africa. 1. Anthocleista. Acta Botanica Neerlandica 10: 1–53.
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
A. Gurib-Fakim
Faculty of Science, University of Mauritius, Réduit, Mauritius
Associate editors
C.H. Bosch
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
M.S.J. Simmonds
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB, United Kingdom
R. Arroo
Leicester School of Pharmacy, Natural Products Research, De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester LE1 9BH, United Kingdom
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
General editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
de Ruijter, A., 2007. Anthocleista vogelii Planch. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Distribution Map wild

1, part of branch; 2, leaf; 3, flower; 4, fruit.
Redrawn and adapted by Achmad Satiri Nurhaman