Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Prodr. 1: 100 (1824).
Cissampelos pareira L. var. owariensis (P.Beauv. ex DC.) Oliv. (1868).
Liane amère, liane corde, liane serpent (Fr). Kishiki cha buga, mkasisi cha mkiwa, mlagalaga (Sw).
Origin and geographic distribution
Cissampelos owariensis occurs from Sierra Leone east to Uganda and south to Angola, Zambia and Mozambique.
Cissampelos owariensis, Cissampelos mucronata A.Rich. and Cissampelos pareira L. have often been confused; as they are also similarly used, it is often impossible to correlate uses unambiguously with a particular species.
Throughout the distribution area of Cissampelos owariensis people take an infusion of the bitter rhizome, leaves or stems to cure gastro-intestinal complaints such as diarrhoea, dysentery, colic, intestinal worms and digestive complaints, and also urogenital problems such as menstrual problems, venereal diseases, infertility, to induce contraction of the uterus to start labour or abortion and to expel the placenta. Women of the Bini people in Nigeria use the leaves to promote foetal growth.
Leaves and rhizomes or their ash are widely used in various forms to treat abscesses, ulcers and scabies, and also as a haemostatic. In Nigeria leaf sap is used as nose or eye drops to cure headache. In Congo a decoction of stems mixed with leaves of other plants is used as a wash to treat wounds. In DR Congo leaf sap is applied to swellings, and is taken as a stomachic. A maceration of the plant is applied to snakebites. A decoction of the rhizome macerated in palm oil is taken against piles. In south-eastern Tanzania grated rhizome is applied to snake bites. The aerial parts enter in preparations to treat amnesia and psychoses and in the preparation of health tonics. A decoction of crushed leaves is used in veterinary medicine to treat diarrhoea. In Nigeria the rhizome is sometimes used in the preparation of arrow poison.
The stems are used as binding material for basket-work. The plant is occasionally cultivated as an ornamental.
Production and international trade
The plant is commonly sold in local markets. It may enter wider markets by the name ‘pareira brava’. True ‘pareira brava’ however is made from the South American Chondrodendron tomentosum Ruiz & Pav.; in some African countries it is permitted to sell Cissampelos pareira under this name, and confusion with Cissampelos owariensis may occur.
Although the chemical and pharmaceutical properties of several Cissampelos spp. have been studied extensively and promising activities have been demonstrated, these aspects of Cissampelos owariensis have hardly been studied. Given the wide use of the plant in traditional medicine, it seems likely that it contains similar compounds, such as bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloids.
Crude ethanol extracts of leaves and rhizomes of Cissampelos owariensis applied topically to adult Acanthoscelides obtectus (pest of beans), Sitophilus oryzae (pest of stored rice grain) and Prostephanus truncatus (pest of maize and cassava) caused significant mortality in these beetles. Seed and leaf powders and slurries were also very effective against the last 2 pests when mixed with grains at a rate of 1% w/w.
Dioecious liana, with rhizome; stem and branchlets with spreading hairs. Leaves arranged spirally, simple, peltate; stipules absent; petiole 4–16 cm long, inserted 1–2 cm from the base of the blade; blade broadly ovate to circular, sometimes broadly triangular, 6–12 cm in diameter, base rounded to almost cordate, apex obtuse and mucronate, papery, variably hairy, palmately 5–7-veined. Inflorescence an axillary, umbel-like cyme, solitary or clustered; male inflorescence arranged in a false raceme up to 40 cm long, female inflorescence arranged in a false raceme up to 35 cm long; peduncle 0.5–3 cm long, hairy; bracts rounded or kidney-shaped, up to 4 cm in diameter, enlarging in fruit, whitish, hairy. Flowers unisexual; pedicel c. 1 mm long; male flowers with 4(–5) obovate, spreading sepals 1–1.5 mm × 0.5–1 mm, hairy outside, corolla cup-shaped, c. 1 mm long, stamens 2–5, filaments fused; female flowers with 1 sepal, 1–2 mm × 0.5–1 mm, petals 1(–3), kidney-shaped, c. 1 mm long, ovary superior, 1–1.5 mm long, hairy, 1-celled. Fruit an obovoid drupe 4–6 mm × 4–5 mm, hairy, red when ripe, stone woody with warty ribs, 1-seeded.
Other botanical information
Cissampelos comprises about 20 species, 7 in tropical America and 13 in tropical Africa. Cissampelos pareira is the only species with a pantropical distribution.
Growth and development
Cissampelos owariensis is very variable in leaf form, hairiness and inflorescence size. Flowering occurs towards the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season, in Benin from January to May. Fruits mature in the dry season.
Cissampelos owariensis occurs in lowland and riverine forest, also in secondary forest, and it is often also common in clearings, orchards, fields and hedges, especially on moist soils up to 900 m altitude.
Propagation and planting
Cissampelos owariensis is only propagated by seed
It is sometimes found as a medicinal plant in home gardens, mainly in coastal regions.
Plant material is collected from the wild throughout the year, whenever required.
Handling after harvest
Collected plant material may be dried for later use.
Genetic resources and breeding
Cissampelos owariensis has a wide distribution and is not in danger of genetic erosion. In view of its medicinal importance and wide distribution, the establishment of a representative germplasm collection is recommended.
Cissampelos owariensis has many medicinal uses, which are similar to several other Cissampelos spp. However, few chemical and pharmacological investigations on Cissampelos owariensis have been made and additional research is warranted. If the biological activities are confirmed, biological and ecological studies are needed for domestication to ensure sustainable use.
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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.
Correct citation of this article:
Mosango, D.M., 2008. Cissampelos owariensis P.Beauv. ex DC. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
1, part of stem with male inflorescence; 2, part of stem with female inflorescence.
Source: Flore analytique du Bénin