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Bulbine abyssinica A.Rich.

Protologue
Tent. fl. abyss. 2: 334 (1851).
Family
Asphodelaceae
Origin and geographic distribution
Bulbine abyssinica occurs from Congo to Ethiopia and southwards to South Africa.
Uses
In Botswana, South Africa and Lesotho fresh leaf sap of Bulbine abyssinica is applied to the skin to cure ringworm and rash. The sap is applied to wounds as a disinfectant and to promote healing. In Lesotho crushed leaves are used as a dressing for burns and leaf sap is applied to cracked lips.
Properties
Anthraquinones, phenylanthraquinones and isofuranonaphthoquinones have been isolated from the roots, leaves and fruits of Bulbine abyssinica. The phenylanthraquinone bulbine-knipholone has been isolated from the roots. This compound showed in-vitro antiplasmodial activity, and no cytotoxic effects on mammalian cells.
Botany
Tufted, perennial herb up to 70 cm tall, with short rhizome up to 1.5 cm ื 1.5 cm. Leaves in a rosette, simple, erect to spreading, without stipules and petiole, terete or slightly flattened, up to 55 cm ื 4 mm, fleshy, at base extending into a tubular sheath, old leaf bases persistent. Inflorescence a terminal raceme 3–18 cm long; peduncle up to 65 cm long; bracts 5–20 mm long, with a sharp point, persistent. Flowers bisexual, regular, 3-merous; pedicel c. 3 mm long at apex of inflorescence, c. 20 mm at basis of inflorescence; tepals 6, oblong, c. 6 mm ื 2 mm, 1-veined, yellow; stamens 6, 3–4 mm long, densely bearded in upper third; ovary superior, 3-celled, style terete, stigma head-shaped. Fruit a globose to obovoid capsule c. 5 mm long, dehiscing loculicidally, brown to black, many-seeded. Seeds pyramidal, c. 3 mm in diameter, grey-black.
Bulbine comprises about 60 species, most of them restricted to southern Africa. Bulbine asphodeloides (L.) Willd., native of Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland, has often been confused with Bulbine abyssinica and as their ranges overlap it is not always clear to which of the 2 species a medicinal use should be attributed. Leaf sap of Bulbine asphodeloides is applied to promote wound healing. A decoction of the rhizomes is drunk to cure scrophula, venereal diseases and diarrhoea. In southern Africa Bulbine abyssinica flowers in early summer.
Ecology
Bulbine abyssinica occurs in small colonies in dry bushland or grassland, often on shallow soil over rock at 600–2750 m altitude.
Management
Bulbine abyssinica is only harvested from the wild.
Genetic resources and breeding
Bulbine abyssinica is widespread and therefore not seriously threatened by genetic erosion. In southern Africa, were the rhizomes are harvested and traded locally, measures should be considered to prevent overharvesting.
Prospects
The ethnobotanical information on Bulbine abyssinica is scarce and not specific and the identification of the species is often doubtful. The presence of pharmacologically interesting compounds in Bulbine abyssinica and many other Bulbine species warrants more research.
Major references
• Bringmann, G., Menche, D., Bezabih, M.-T., Abegaz, B.M. & Kaminsky, R., 1999. Antiplasmodial activity of knipholone and related natural phenylanthraquinones. Planta Medica 65(8): 757–758.
• Bringmann, G., Menche, D., Brun, R., Msuta, T. & Abegaz, B., 2002. Bulbine-knipholone, a new, axially chiral phenylanthraquinone from Bulbine abyssinica (Asphodelaceae): isolation, structural elucidation, synthesis, and antiplasmodial activity. European Journal of Organic Chemistry 2002(6): 1107–1111.
• Kativu, S., 2001. Asphodelaceae. In: Pope, G.V. (Editor). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 12, part 3. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. pp. 25–48.
• Majinda, R.R.T., Abegaz, B.M., Bezabih, M., Ngadjui, B.T., Wanjala, C.C.W., Mdee, L.K., Bojase, G., Silayo, A., Masesane, I. & Yeboah, S.O., 2001. Recent results from natural product research at the University of Botswana. Pure and Applied Chemistry 73(7): 1197–1208.
• Watt, J.M. & Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G., 1962. The medicinal and poisonous plants of southern and eastern Africa. 2nd Edition. E. and S. Livingstone, London, United Kingdom. 1457 pp.
Other references
• van Jaarsveld, E. & Forster, P.I., 2001. Asphodelaceae. In: Eggli, U. (Editor). Illustrated handbook of succulent plants: Monocotyledons. Springer Verlag, Berlin, Germany. pp. 232–246.
• Wanjohi, J.M., Yenesew, A., Midiwo, J.O., Heydenreich, M., Peter, M.G., Dreyer, M., Reichert, M. & Bringmann, G., 2005. Three dimeric anthracene derivatives from the fruits of Bulbine abyssinica. Tetrahedron 61(10): 2667–2674.
• Whitehouse, C., 2002. Asphodelaceae. In: Beentje, H.J. & Ghazanfar, S.A. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 20 pp.
Author(s)
• C.H. Bosch
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands


Editors
• 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, R้duit, 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
Photo editor
• A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2006. Bulbine abyssinica A.Rich. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes m้dicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
flowering plants
obtained from
B. Wursten


inflorescences
obtained from
B. Wursten