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Baissea axillaris (Benth.) Hua

Compt. Rend. Hebd. Séances Acad. Sci. 134: 857 (1902).
Chromosome number
2n = 22
Origin and geographic distribution
Baissea axillaris occurs from Senegal east to the Central African Republic, and south to northern Angola. There is one collection from eastern Tanzania.
In Congo a decoction of the leafy twigs is taken to treat kidney problems. In DR Congo a maceration of the root is used as eye drops to treat psychosis. A decoction of the roots and stem bark is taken to treat colic; it causes no diarrhoea. A decoction of the leafy twigs is taken as a diuretic. The Yoruba people in Nigeria add the latex to palm wine to increase the intoxicating effect. The bark in decoction is applied to the skin of dogs to cure mange. The bark is used to make a powerful hunting poison. In DR Congo the root sap is dripped into the nostrils of hunting dogs to improve their ability to scent.
No chemical analyses have been carried out on Baissea axillaris. It belongs to the subfamily Echitoideae, whose representatives often contain cardiac glycosides, especially in the seeds and roots.
Liana up to 15 m long, with white latex; stem up to 12 cm in diameter; bark rough or smooth, greyish; branchlets densely hairy. Leaves opposite, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole 1–8 mm long, densely hairy; blade ovate to oblong, often violin-shaped, sometimes deltoid, 1–8 cm × 0.5–3 cm, base rounded to cordate, apex obtuse to acute, glabrous to hairy on both sides, pinnately veined with 3–10 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence an axillary cyme, sometimes terminal, lax or congested, 1–20-flowered; peduncle 1–15 mm long. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous; pedicel 1.5–5 mm long; sepals connate at base, broadly ovate, 1–2 mm long, apex rounded to obtuse, brown hairy outside; corolla tube funnel-shaped, (2–)3–5 mm long, variably hairy outside, with tufts of hairs and small scales inside, yellow, orange or white, sometimes with red spots or stripes inside, lobes elliptical, 1.5–6 mm × 1–2 mm, apex obtuse, variably hairy outside, glabrous inside; stamens inserted near the base of the corolla tube, anthers almost sessile, forming a cone over the pistil head; ovary half-inferior, globose to cylindrical, consisting of 2 carpels connate at the very base, style 0.5–1 mm long, pistil head c. 1 mm long. Fruit consisting of 2 almost free, narrowly cylindrical follicles 11–39 cm × 0.5–3 cm, apex rounded, pendulous, densely hairy, many-seeded. Seeds narrowly ellipsoid, laterally compressed, 17–27 mm long, apex truncate, with a tuft of hairs 15–45 mm long.
Baissea is confined to continental Africa and comprises 18 species. Baissea axillaris flowers and fruits throughout the year. Baissea leonensis Benth. has about the same distribution area as Baissea axillaris, occurring from Senegal to western Uganda, and south to DR Congo. In Senegal the latex is applied to mumps, and the latex together with the powdered bark of Zanthoxylum leprieurii Guill. & Perr. is applied to tumours. In Côte d’Ivoire the latex is dropped in water to stupefy fish. The strong stems are used as ropes. The leaves contain the coumarin glycoside baisseoside.
Baissea axillaris occurs in riverine forest, coastal forest and secondary forest, up to 1000 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Baissea axillaris is relatively common throughout its distribution area and grows well in disturbed forest. It is therefore not threatened by genetic erosion.
Baissea axillaris will remain of local importance only, unless chemical and pharmacological research reveals possibilities for modern medicine.
Major references
• 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.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 1996. African ethnobotany: poisons and drugs. Chapman & Hall, London, United Kingdom. 941 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• van Dilst, F.J.H., 1995. Baissea A.DC. Series of Revisions of Apocynaceae 39. Bulletin du Jardin Botanique National de Belgique 64: 89–178.
Other references
• 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.
• Oliver-Bever, B., 1986. Medicinal plants in tropical West Africa. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom. 375 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.
• Tra Bi, F.H., Kouamé, F.N. & Traoré, D., 2005. Utilisation of climbers in two forest reserves in West Côte d’Ivoire. In: Bongers, F., Parren, M.P.E. & Traoré, D. (Editors). Forest climbing plants of West Africa. Diversity, ecology and management. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, United Kingdom. pp. 167–181.
Sources of illustration
• Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (Editors), 2006. Flore analytique du Bénin. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. 1034 pp.
G.H. Schmelzer
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:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2006. Baissea axillaris (Benth.) Hua. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
1, flowering twig; 2, flower; 3, fruit.
Source: Flore analytique du Bénin