Encycl. 2(1): 95 (1786).
2n = unknown
Connarus nigrensis Gilg (1891).
Origin and geographic distribution
Connarus africanus occurs throughout the forest zone of West Africa, from southern Senegal east to western Central Africa, where it is found in Cameroon, Sao Tomé, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
Connarus africanus has several applications in traditional medicine in West Africa. The bark, as a decoction or powder, is applied externally to ulcers and wounds. It is credited with tonic and astringent properties. The root bark is used internally to treat tapeworm infections; a decoction or infusion of pounded seeds has a similar use. The leaf-sap is used in Côte d'Ivoire with bark sap of Chrysophyllum perpulchrum Mildbr. as a nasal instillation to treat fainting. The seeds are occasionally used to bait hooks for fishing. Connarus africanus is very occasionally planted as a hedge.
The taeniacidal activity has been ascribed to the presence of tannin in bark and seeds. However, in a closely related species from South-East Asia, Connarus monocarpus L., the presence of benzoquinones, such as rapanone and embelin, has been demonstrated. Although the phytochemistry of Connarus africanus has not been investigated, similar compounds might partly explain the attributed medicinal activities.
Liana or lianescent shrub, with lenticellate branches. Leaves alternate, 3-foliolate; stipules absent; petiole 2.5–14 cm long, rachis 1.5–4 cm long; leaflets ovate or elliptical, (4–)6.5–25 cm × 2–9.5 cm, rounded at base, acuminate at apex, entire, papery, glabrous, pinnately veined. Inflorescence an axillary panicle up to 35 cm long, usually many together near ends of branches and then appearing terminal and compound, densely brown-pubescent, up to 50-flowered. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, heterodistylous; pedicel short, articulate; sepals ovate, up to 4 mm long, glandular punctate; petals usually coherent, narrowly elliptical to narrowly obovate, up to 8 mm long, glandular punctate; stamens 10, united at base, alternately long and short; ovary superior, brown hairy, style longer or shorter than long stamens. Fruit a narrowly obovoid, slightly oblique follicle up to 6 cm long, shortly stiped at base, red, glabrous outside, glandular inside, 1-seeded. Seed ovoid, up to 3 cm long, shining black, with yellowish sarcotesta at base. Seedling with hypogeal germination; cotyledons planoconvex, staying within the testa; first leaves 1-foliolate.
Connarus comprises about 75 species and is pantropical. In Africa, 7 species occur. The Central African Connarus congolanus Schellenb. closely resembles Connarus africanus, but differs in its more leathery leaflets, thicker sepals, petals not connivent, and fruit not stiped and pilose inside.
Connarus africanus occurs in rain forest and riverine forest, and sometimes in thickets in savanna.
Connarus africanus is not planted, except in rare instances as a hedge grown from stakes. Bark and seeds are collected for medicinal purposes from the wild.
Genetic resources and breeding
Connarus africanus is widespread and locally common. It is not at risk of genetic erosion.
Phytochemical and pharmacological research is required to evaluate the uses of Connarus africanus in traditional medicine.
• Burkill, H.M., 1985. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 1, Families A–D. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 960 pp.
• Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 1989. Connarus L. In: Breteler, F.J. (Editor). The Connaraceae, a taxonomic study with emphasis on Africa. Agricultural University Wageningen Papers 89-6: 239–267.
• Hegnauer, R., 1989. Chemotaxonomie der Pflanzen. Band 8. Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, Boston, Berlin. 718 pp.
Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2002. Connarus africanus Lam.. Record from Protabase. Oyen, L.P.A. & Lemmens, R.H.M.J. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, the Netherlands.