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Chasmanthera welwitschii Troupin

Protologue
Fl. Congo Belge 2: 241 (1951).
Family
Menispermaceae
Vernacular names
Njinde (Po).
Origin and geographic distribution
Chasmanthera welwitschii occurs in the humid zone from Cameroon and the Central African Republic south to DR Congo and northern Angola.
Uses
Bark preparations are taken as a tonic against bodily and nervous exhaustion. Leaf sap mixed with shea butter is rubbed on the body against pain and stiffness of limbs. A wet dressing made from the leaves is applied to furuncles and abscesses. A fishing poison is prepared from the leaves mixed with leaves of Tephrosia vogelii Hook.f. The roots are used as an ordeal-poison, judgement resting on whether the roots caused constipation or diarrhoea, indicating innocence or guilt, respectively. The roots are used in the preparation of palm wine to give it extra strength.
Fruits and roots are eaten by the Turumbu people in DR Congo. The Balumba people in Gabon use the stem for rope in house construction and to make fishing nets and frames.
Properties
The medicinal or chemical properties have not been studied, but the presence of berberine-like quaternary alkaloids, as in Chasmanthera dependens Hochst., is likely.
Botany
Dioecious liana up to 30 m long; branches pendulous, finely grooved, hairy. Leaves alternate, simple, densely hairy; stipules absent; petiole 12–14 cm long; blade nearly round to broadly 5-angular, 10–16 cm × 10–22 cm, base cordate, apex acuminate or obtuse, margins recurved, thinly leathery, palmately 6–7-veined. Inflorescence a pendulous, axillary raceme or false raceme; male inflorescence a false raceme 30–60 cm long, composed of 3–5-flowered clusters; female inflorescence a raceme 15–22 cm long; bracts filiform, persistent. Flowers unisexual, regular; pedicel c. 2.5 mm long; sepals 6, 3 outer ones linear-lanceolate, up to 2 mm long, 3 inner ones obovate, c. 2.5 mm long, with a tuft of hairs at apex; petals 6, obovate, c. 1.5 mm × 1 mm, fleshy, glabrous, greenish yellow; male flowers with 6 stamens c. 1.5 mm long, filaments largely fused; female flowers with superior ovary consisting of 3, ovoid carpels united at apex by the recurved stigmas, staminodes 6, c. 1.2 mm long. Fruit composed of 3 ellipsoid and unequal-sided drupelets c. 1.2 cm × 1 cm, each drupelet 1-seeded. Seeds ovoid, c. 1 cm long, curved.
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 welwitschii and Chasmanthera dependens. 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 study is needed to decide if the 2 species should be combined into a single species.
Ecology
Chasmanthera welwitschii occurs in dense evergreen and semi-deciduous humid forest, in gallery forest, humid secondary forest and bush fallow at low to medium altitudes.
Management
Chasmanthera welwitschii is only collected from the wild.
Genetic resources and breeding
Although the habitat of Chasmanthera welwitschii is shrinking, there are no indications that it is threatened by genetic erosion.
Prospects
The pharmacological properties of Chasmanthera welwitschii are unknown and deserve exploratory research.
Major references
• Liengola, I.B., 2001. Contribution à l’étude des plantes alimentaires spontanées chez les Turumbu et Lokele du District de la Tshopo, Province Orientale, R.D. Congo. Systematics and Geography of Plants 71(2): 687–698.
• Raponda-Walker, A. & Sillans, R., 1961. Les plantes utiles du Gabon. Paul Lechevalier, Paris, France. 614 pp.
• Troupin, G., 1951. Menispermaceae. In: Robyns, W., Staner, P., Demaret, F., Germain, R., Gilbert, G., Hauman, L., Homès, M., Jurion, F., Lebrun, J., Vanden Abeele, M. & Boutique, R. (Editors). Flore du Congo belge et du Ruanda-Urundi. Spermatophytes. Volume 2. Institut National pour l’Étude Agronomique du Congo belge, Brussels, Belgium. pp. 202–255.
• 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.
Other references
• Bouquet, A., 1969. Féticheurs et médecines traditionnelles du Congo (Brazzaville). Mémoires ORSTOM No 36. Office de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique Outre-Mer. Paris, France. 282 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.
• Lubini, A., 1986. Végétation adventice et postculturale de Kisangani et de la Tshopo (Haut-Zaïre). Bulletin du Jardin Botanique National de Belgique 56(3/4): 315–348.
Author(s)
L.P.A. Oyen
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, 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

Correct citation of this article:
Oyen, L.P.A., 2008. Chasmanthera welwitschii Troupin. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.