Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Mitt. Bot. Staatssamml. München 1(8): 352 (1953).
Cissus debilis (Baker) Planch. (1887).
Liane à saucisses (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Cayratia debilis is native to equatorial Africa from Liberia to southern Sudan and western Uganda.
The leaves of Cayratia debilis are eaten as a vegetable in Bioko (Fernando Po). In Congo the leaves are eaten by people suffering from heart trouble and a herb tea is drunk to relieve cough. In Gabon the sap is used as an ointment to heal the umbilical cord. In Côte d’Ivoire a leaf decoction is taken internally and applied externally as an embrocation in the treatment of headaches. Grated stems are made into poultices to apply to abscesses to draw out pus. In Congo the stems are part of a mixture to remedy abdominal troubles and constipation. The stems are used in a mixture with Tephrosia leaves as a fish poison.
The fruits are inedible but have veterinary use in the Central African Republic. They are crushed in water and the solution is given to poultry as a prophylactic for coccidiosis and avian influenza.
No chemical data are known for Cayratia debilis, but leaves of Cayratia trifolia (L.) Domin, as well as those of some other Asiatic species, were found to contain several flavonoids including cyanidin, delphinidin, kaempferol, myricetin and quercetin. The aerial parts of Cayratia trifolia contain the triterpene epifriedelanol, a compound with demonstrated antitumour activity, whereas the stem, leaves and roots contain cyanic acid.
Herbaceous or slightly woody, branched, perennial climber with leaf-opposed, branched tendrils; stems slender, up to 5 m long. Leaves alternate, pedately 5-foliolate; stipules oblong, up to 3 mm long; petiole 4–12 cm long; leaflets elliptical to oblong-obovate, base cuneate to rounded, apex acuminate, up to 12 cm × 5.5 cm. Inflorescence an irregular, lax, corymbose cyme 10–25 cm long. Flowers unisexual or bisexual, 4-merous; calyx cup-shaped, entire or shallowly lobed; petals triangular, greenish white or yellow, 1.5 mm long; stamens c. 0.5 mm long; ovary glabrous, immersed in disk. Fruit a fleshy, slightly flattened berry, 3 mm × 5 mm, white turning lilac, blue-black or mauve, 2–4-seeded.
Cayratia comprises about 50 species and is distributed in the tropics of the Old World. The closely related Cayratia gracilis (Guill. & Perr.) Suess. can be distinguished from the otherwise similar Cayratia debilis, with a partial overlapping distribution, by the smaller inflorescences, smaller seeds and ovate, rather than oblong, leaflets. The genus has quite a few species with medicinal uses.
Cayratia debilis is a species of primary, secondary and gallery forests.
Cayratia debilis is harvested from the wild whenever the need arises.
Genetic resources and breeding
In view of the wide distribution, genetic erosion does not seem a risk at present. There are no accessions known in accessible germplasm collections.
There is no information on the phytochemistry and pharmacological properties of Cayratia debilis. In view of its use as a vegetable and many medicinal uses, as well as results from related Asiatic species, research is desirable.
• Burkill, H.M., 2000. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 5, Families S–Z, Addenda. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 686 pp.
• Descoings, B., 1972. Vitaceae. Flore du Cameroun. Volume 13. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. pp. 1–132.
• Raponda-Walker, A. & Sillans, R., 1961. Les plantes utiles du Gabon. Paul Lechevalier, Paris, France. 614 pp.
• Slamet Sutanti Budi Rahayu, 2001. Cayratia A.H.L. Juss. In: van Valkenburg, J.L.C.H. & Bunyapraphatsara, N. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 144–147.
• Projet CAD, 2000. Stratégie nationale pour la conservation de la diversité biologique en République Centrafricaine. Projet CAD/96/G-31 SNPA-DB. Ministère de l’environnement, des eaux, forêts, chasses et pêches, République Centrafricaine. 62 pp.
Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2004. Cayratia debilis (Baker) Suess. In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.