PROTA homepage Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Record display

Chasmanthera dependens Hochst.

Flora 27: 21 (1844).
Origin and geographic distribution
Chasmanthera dependens is widely distributed from Sierra Leone east to Eritrea and Somalia and south through eastern DR Congo and Tanzania to Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is commonly planted in home gardens, e.g. in Ghana.
In West Africa leaf and stem sap are locally applied to cure sprains and bruises, as a dressing for fractures or mixed with shea butter as an embrocation to treat pain and stiffness. The bark is chewed as a remedy for venereal discharges or as a general tonic for physical or nervous weakness in inflammatory and exhausting diseases. In Nigeria a stem maceration together with stems and roots of several other plants is drunk against convulsions. In Kenya the stem is roasted and eaten to treat convulsions in infants. In Uganda the plant is used against dementia, snakebites and epilepsy. A decoction of freshly pounded roots mixed with roots of Vernonia sp. is drunk to cure malaria. A decoction of pounded roots mixed with leaves of Tagetes sp. is drunk by children to treat cough. In DR Congo the leaf sap is applied as first aid to stop bleeding of wounds.
In Nigeria the fibrous stem is beaten and used as a sponge. In Ethiopia Borana pastoralists eat the roots and leaves.
Production and international trade
Several plant parts are commonly sold in local markets as a medicine.
The stem bark of Chasmanthera dependens is rich in alkaloids and contains the quaternary protoberberine alkaloids jateorrhizine, palmatine (berbericinine), columbamine, pseudicolumbamine, magnoflorine, and the non-phenolic quaternary alkaloids tetrahydropalmatine, liriodenine, lysicamine (oxonuceferine), O,O-dimethylcorytuberine, anonaine, glaucine, norglaucine, oxoglaucine and nornuceferine. It also contains the tetrahydroprotoberberine type alkaloids govanine and coreximine, the pavine type alkaloid bisnorargemonine and the morphinandienone type alkaloid pallidine, as well as the furanoid diterpene 8-hydroxycolumbine. Several of these alkaloids were also extracted from other species and were found to have interesting pharmacological effects. The roots contain berberine, which is reported to control leishmaniasis.
Methanol extracts of the dried leaves have shown significant analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.
Ethanol extracts and crude water extracts of the roots showed significant antifungal activity against Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus niger, Candida albicans, Microsporum audonii, Trichoderma viride and Trichophyton mentagrophytes. The ethanol extracts of the plants were more active than the water extracts.
Dioecious liana; mature branches with papery exfoliating bark; young branchlets densely short-hairy. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules absent; petiole 7–14 cm long; blade almost round to 3-angled, 7–20 cm × 7–20 cm, base cordate, apex obtuse to acuminate, margin entire or shallowly lobed, densely hairy, palmately 5–7-veined. Inflorescence a pendulous, axillary raceme or false raceme; male inflorescence a false raceme 10–30 cm long, composed of 3–5-flowered clusters; female inflorescence a raceme 10–18 cm long; bracts filiform, persistent. Flowers unisexual, regular; pedicel 3–6 mm long; sepals 6–9, 3 outer sepals lanceolate, up to 2 mm long, bract-like, hairy, inner sepals obovate, 2.5–3.5 mm long, with a tuft of hairs at apex; petals 6, obovate, 2–2.5 mm × 1.5–2 mm, fleshy, glabrous, greenish yellow; male flowers with 6 stamens 2.5–3 mm long, filaments largely fused; female flowers, with superior ovary, consisting of 3 ovoid carpels c. 2 mm long, united at apex by the recurved stigmas, staminodes 6, c. 1 mm long. Fruit composed of 3 ellipsoid and unequal-sided drupelets 1–2 cm × c. 1 cm, each drupelet 1-seeded. Seeds ovoid, 1–2 cm long, curved.
Other botanical information
Chasmanthera is closely related to Tinospora and Jateorhiza; these genera have been combined in the past. Chasmanthera is an African genus which comprises two species: Chasmanthera dependens and Chasmanthera welwitschii Troupin. The species appear to be ecologically different, although their areas of distribution overlap in the Central African Republic and intermediates have been found there. Further research is needed to decide if the 2 species should be combined into a single species.
Chasmanthera dependens occurs commonly in forest margins, savanna and secondary forest, often near rocks, but sometimes also in dense and moist evergreen forest, semi-deciduous forest and riverine forest, up to 1500 m altitude. It prefers well-drained soils with ample water and sun.
Propagation and planting
Chasmanthera dependens is propagated by seed and wildlings. The seeds remain dormant for 6 months.
In West Africa Chasmanthera dependens is sometimes cultivated as a medicinal plant, mainly in home gardens. It is found growing in cocoa plantations and is sometimes believed to reduce yields. It also hosts a medfly (Ceratitis sp.), which feeds on fruits.
Chasmanthera dependens is collected from the wild or home gardens.
Handling after harvest
The fresh leaves are ground and the leaf juice is used immediately or kept for further use on sprains or bruises. The stem bark may be used fresh or roasted. It may also be dried and kept for later use.
Genetic resources
Chasmanthera dependens is widespread and common and is not in danger of genetic erosion.
Chasmanthera dependens is widely used in traditional medicine, but very few pharmacological tests have been done. Pharmacological tests on the alkaloids present in Chasmanthera dependens, but obtained from other species, indicate that additional research is warranted.
Major references
• Adekunle, A.A. & Okoli, S.O., 2002. Antifungal activity of the crude extracts of Alafia barteri Oliver (Apocynaceae) and Chasmanthera dependens Hochst. (Menispermaceae). Hamdard Medicus 45(3): 52–56.
• Almeida, R.N., Navarro, D.S. & Barbosa-Filho, J.M., 2001. Plants with analgesic activity. Phytomedicine 8: 310–322.
• Bouquet, A. & Debray, M., 1974. Plantes médicinales de la Côte d’Ivoire. Travaux et Documents No 32. ORSTOM, Paris, France. 231 pp.
• Burkill, H.M., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 969 pp.
• Irvine, F.R., 1961. Woody plants of Ghana, with special reference to their uses. Oxford University Press, London, United Kingdom. 868 pp.
• Morebise, O., Awe, E.O., Makinde, J.M. & Olajide, O.A., 2001. Evaluation of the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of Chasmanthera dependens leaf methanol extract. Fitoterapia 72(5): 497–502.
• Okoli, C.O., Akah, P.A. & Nwafor, S.V., 2003. Anti-inflammatory activity of plants. Journal of Natural Remedies 3(1): 1–30.
• Oliver-Bever, B., 1986. Medicinal plants in tropical West Africa. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom. 375 pp.
• Onabanjo, A.O., John, T.A., Sokale, A.A. & Samuel, O.T., 1990. Analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of Chasmanthera dependens. International Journal of Pharmacognosy 29(1): 24–28.
• Troupin, G., 1960. Menispermaceae. In: Exell, A.W. & Wild, H. (Editors). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 1, part 1. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 150–171.
Other references
• Adjanohoun, E.J., Ahiyi, M.R.A., Aké Assi, L., Dramane, K., Elewude, J.A., Fadoju, S.U., Gbile, Z.O., Goudote, E., Johnson, C.L.A., Keita, A., Morakinyo, O., Ojewole, J.A.O., Olatunji, A.O. & Sofowora, E.A., 1991. Traditional medicine and pharmacopoeia: contribution to ethnobotanical and floristic studies in western Nigeria. OUA/ST & RC, Lagos, Nigeria. 420 pp.
• de Wet, H., 2005. An ethnobotanical and chemotaxonomic study of South African Menispermaceae. PhD thesis, Faculty of Science, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa. 450 pp.
• Dormon, E.N.A., Van Huis, A., Leuwis, C., Obeng-Ofori, D. & Sakyi-Dawson, O., 2004. Causes of low productivity of cocoa in Ghana: farmers’ perspectives and insight from research and the socio-political establishment. Netherlands Journal of Agricultural Science 42(3/4): 237–260.
• Gemedo-Dalle, T., Maass, B.L. & Isselstein, J., 2005. Plant biodiversity and ethnobotany of Borana pastoralists in southern Oromia, Ethiopia. Economic Botany 59(1): 43–65.
• Hamill, F.A., Apio, S., Mubiru, N.K., Mosango, M., Bukenya-Ziraba, R., Maganyi, O.W. & Soejarto, D.D., 2000. Traditional herbal drugs of southern Uganda, 1. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 70: 281–300.
• Hamill, F.A., Apio, S., Mubiru, N.K., Bukenya-Ziraba, R., Mosango, M., Maganyi, O.W. & Soejarto, D.D., 2003. Traditional herbal drugs of southern Uganda, 2: literature analysis and antimicrobial assays. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 84: 57–78.
• Ichikawa, M., 1987. A preliminary report on the ethnobotany of the Suiei Dorobo in northern Kenya. African Study Monographs, Supplement 7: 1–52.
• Iwu, M.M., 1993. Handbook of African medicinal plants. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, United States. 464 pp.
• Iwu, M.M., Duncan, A.R. & Okunji, C.O., 1999. New antimicrobials of plant origin. In: Janick, J. (Editor). Perspectives on new crops and new uses. ASHS Press, Alexandria, United States. pp. 457–462.
• Ohiri, F.C., Verpoorte, R. & Baerheim Svendsen, A., 1982. Alkaloids from Chasmanthera dependens. Planta Medica 46(4): 228–230.
• Ohiri, F.C., Verpoorte, R. & Baerheim Svendsen, A., 1983. Tertiary phenolic alkaloids from Chasmanthera dependens. Planta Medica 49(1): 17–19.
• Thorold, C.A., 1975. Diseases of cocoa. Clarendon Press, Oxford, United Kingdom. 433 pp.
• Troupin, G., 1962. Monographie des Menispermaceae africaines. Mémoires in-8. Académie Royale des Sciences d’Outre-Mer, Classe des Sciences Naturelles et Médicales, Nouvelle série 8(2), Brussels, Belgium. 313 pp.
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.
D.M. Mosango
c/o Laboratory of Natural Sciences, Lycée Français Jean Monnet de Bruxelles (LFB), Avenue du Lycée Français 9, 1180 Brussels, Belgium

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

Correct citation of this article:
Mosango, D.M., 2008. Chasmanthera dependens Hochst. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Distribution Map wild

1, part of male flowering branch; 2, male flower; 3, drupelet.
Source: Flore analytique du Bénin

male flowering stem

part of young infructescence

opened fruit with seed