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Cercestis afzelii Schott

Oesterr. Bot. Wochenbl. 7: 414 (1857).
Chromosome number
2n = 42 (hexaploid)
Cercestis scaber A.Chev. (1920).
Origin and geographic distribution
Cercestis afzelii occurs from Senegal eastward to southern Nigeria.
The long and strong stems are used in construction, woven into mats, baskets and fishing nets and are used to tie drums. Preparations from the plant are taken as purgative and against excessive sensitivity to stimulation of the heart. In Senegal the leaves are applied to burns. In central Ghana the ground stem mixed with water is drunk against gonorrhoea.
Production and international trade
Cercestis afzelii is only traded locally.
Extracts from the leaves showed bacteriostatic activity against Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus faecalis and some activity against the fungi Candida albicans and Cladosporium cucumerinum. The plant also has analgesic or sedative properties. The leaves contain saponins.
Liana up to 17 m long, climbing by flagella: whiplike organs derived from inflorescences and bearing adventitious feeder roots and sometimes reflexed spines. Leaves simple; petiole up to 20 cm long; leaf sheath short; blade hastate, 20–30 cm long, apical lobe elliptical to ovate, acuminate, basal lobes variable, ovate or lanceolate-elliptical, up to 20 cm long, acute or obtuse. Inflorescence a spadix 5–6 cm long, basal part female, covering one-third to half of the axis, apical part male, covering half to two-thirds and creamy white; spathe 5–7 cm long, cylindrical, dark green with red dots; peduncle 3–4 cm long. Flowers naked, unisexual; male flowers with stamens in groups of 4–5, anthers nearly sessile; female flowers purple, ovary globose or ellipsoid, 1-locular, stigma discoid, large, translucent white. Fruit a red, ellipsoid berry up to 2 cm in diameter. Seed globose to triangular.
Cercestis comprises 13 species and is restricted to tropical Africa, from Gambia and Senegal to Uganda and Angola.
Cercestis afzelii occurs in open places in secondary forest.
Cercestis afzelii is only collected from the wild.
Genetic resources and breeding
Cercestis afzelii has a large area of distribution and occurs in secondary vegetation; there are no indications that it is threatened with genetic erosion.
Cercestis afzelii will probably remain of occasional and local importance only.
Major references
• Brown, D., 2000. Aroids: plants of the Arum family. Timber Press, Portland OR, United States. 392 pp.
• 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.
• Burkill, H.M., 2000. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 5, Families S–Z, Addenda. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 686 pp.
• Hepper, F.N., 1968. Araceae. In: Hepper, F.N. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 3, part 1. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 112–127.
• Knecht, M., 1983. Aracées de la Côte d’Ivoire - Contribution à l’étude biosystématique des représentants d’Aracées de la Côte d’Ivoire. Phanerogamarum Monographiae 17. 290 pp.
Other references
• Addo-Fordjour, P., Anning, A.K., Belford, E.J.D. & Akonnor, D., 2008. Diversity and conservation of medicinal plants in the Bomaa community of the Brong Ahafo region, Ghana. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research 2(9): 226–233.
• Atindehou, K.K., Koné, M., Terreaux, C., Traoré, D., Hostettmann, K. & Dosso, M., 2002. Evaluation of the antimicrobial potential of medicinal plants from the Ivory Coast. Phytotherapy Research 16(5): 497–502.
• Bogner, J. & Knecht, M., 1995. A new Cercestis species (Araceae) from the Ivory Coast. Bulletin du Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle, B, Adansonia 16(2–4): 331–335.
• Jongkind, C.C.H., 2007. The botanical diversity of the Atewa Range. In: McCullough, J. Alonzo, L.E., Naskrecki, P., Wright, H.E. & Osei-Owusu, Y. (Editors). A rapid biological assessment of the Atewa Range Forest Reserve, eastern Ghana. RAP Bulletin of Rapid Biological Assessment 47: 41–43.
• 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.
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

M. Brink
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
E.G. Achigan Dako
PROTA Network Office Africa, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), P.O. Box 30677-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
Photo editor
G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Oyen, L.P.A., 2010. Cercestis afzelii Schott. In: Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). Prota 16: Fibres/Plantes à fibres. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Cercestis afzelii

Cercestis afzelii