Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 2
Gard. Chron. Ser. 3, 30: 302 (1901).
Asclepiadaceae (APG: Apocynaceae)
2n = 22
Origin and geographic distribution
Ceropegia lugardae occurs in Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and northern South Africa.
In Tanzania fresh roots are chewed and the mashed roots are applied to snakebites. The root sap is also swallowed for the same purpose.
In Zimbabwe and Namibia the fleshy roots are washed and eaten raw, cooked or roasted. It is also a source of water when travelling in time of drought. In Namibia Bushmen hunters rub the leaves on the strings of bows, to make them smooth and pliant. The stem, roots and fruits are bound on the body as a lucky charm during hunting.
Twining, glabrous herb up to 10 m long, with fleshy, cylindrical roots; stem 3–5 mm in diameter, annual or perennial, with acrid smell. Leaves opposite, simple, slightly fleshy and entire; petiole up to 4 cm long; blade narrowly ovate to broadly ovate-elliptical, 1.5–5.5 cm × 0.6–2 cm, base cordate, auriculate, apex acuminate. Inflorescence an axillary umbel-like cyme, 2–9-flowered, flowers opening successively; peduncle 0.5–5 cm long. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous; pedicel 1–2 cm long; sepals lanceolate, 3–6 mm long, acute, stippled with reddish; corolla 4–6.5 cm long, greenish-whitish-yellowish stippled with red-brown, tube with basal part ovoid-inflated, greenish, inside purple, hairy, upper part cylindrical, c. 3 mm diameter, straight to bent, gradually widening to 12–16 mm diameter towards the mouth, lobes linear to ovate from a triangular keeled base, 8–35 mm long, narrowed in the middle, folded back along the midvein, fused at the tips, erect to spiraling, often crowned by an additional cage-like structure, greenish with reddish reticulate markings, margin with long hairs; outer corona broadly cup-shaped, 4–5 mm in diameter, whitish green with purple, inner coronal lobes ovate, c. 1.5 mm long, forming pouches, brownish; stamens united into a staminal column. Fruits a pair of follicles; each follicle narrowly fusiform, 10–25 cm × 4–5 mm.
Ceropegia is the largest genus in the tribe Ceropegieae, comprising c. 180 species in the Old World tropics. The distribution of Ceropegia extends from West Africa east to Australia, with two main centers of distribution: East and southeastern Africa (115 species) and India (40 species); 2 additional centers occur in Madagascar (20 species) and China (17 species). The extreme variability of flower morphology in the genus has led to the publication of over 500 different taxon names, of which a large number has been sunk into synonymy. The current concept of relatively few but variable species is increasingly supported by molecular data demonstrating low genetic divergence, even between morphologically rather different-looking variants, as in the Ceropegia aristolochioides Decne. complex. Ceropegia is morphologically similar to Riocreuxia, and is paraphyletic to Brachystelma. Ceropegia lugardiae R.Br. is a commonly found orthographic variation of Ceropegia lugardae.
Many Ceropegia species have edible tubers, and they are treated separately; several Ceropegia species also have medicinal uses, including Ceropegia aristolochioides, a widespread species in tropical Africa. In Niger a decoction of the aerial parts is applied to treat itchy skin eruptions. In Senegal and Ethiopia the tuber is cooked and eaten. Ceropegia stenantha K.Schum. occurs from Sudan south to Namibia and northern South Africa. In Tanzania a root decoction is taken to treat stomach problems in young children. In Zimbabwe the root is chewed and the sap swallowed as a lucky charm. Ceropegia linearis E.Mey. ssp. woodii (Schltr.) H.Huber (synonym: Ceropegia woodii Schltr.) occurs wild in Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa. In South Africa a decoction of leafy stems is taken to treat chest complaints. It is also widely cultivated throughout the world as an ornamental in hanging baskets. It is commonly known as ‘chain of hearts’ and different cultivars exist. The stem tubers are used as stock for grafting difficult stem succulents.
Ceropegia lugardae occurs on open woodland, at 900–1300 m altitude. Ceropegia lugardae flowers before new leaves develop.
Genetic resources and breeding
Ceropegia lugardae is extremely variable and widely distributed, and not likely to be threatened by genetic erosion. Although Ceropegia spp. are generally not common in their area of distribution, they have been removed from the CITES list Appendix 2, as no legal international or illegal trade is reported; many species are rare or endangered, but not by trade.
Ceropegia lugardae will remain of local importance as a medicinal plant, unless chemical and pharmacological research reveal interesting results. It might have some future as an ornamental.
• Dyer, R.A., 1980. Asclepiadaceae (Brachystelma, Ceropegia, Riocreuxia). In: Leistner, O. (Editor). Flora of southern Africa Vol. 27(4). Government Printer, Pretoria. pp. 1–91.
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Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2010. Ceropegia lugardae N.E.Br. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 2. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
obtained from Asclepidarium
obtained from The Asclepiad Exhibition