logo of PROTA Protabase
Record display

Dactyladenia barteri (Hook.f. ex Oliv.) Prance & F.White

Brittonia 31: 484 (1979).
Chromosome number
2n = 22
Griffonia barteri Hook.f. ex Oliv. (1871), Acioa barteri (Hook.f. ex Oliv.) Engl. (1899).
Vernacular names
Monkey fruit (En).
Origin and geographic distribution
Dactyladenia barteri occurs naturally in West and Central Africa from Sierra Leone to Cameroon and Gabon. Its occurrence in Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo is uncertain.
Dactyladenia barteri is widely used in south-eastern Nigeria as a fallow crop, producing large amounts of litter and recycling appreciable quantities of nutrients through its deep root system. The dense canopy also aids in weed suppression. In farmer's fields, it is either planted or protected in natural regrowth. Leaves are used for fodder. Stems provide good quality poles for staking crops and for construction work. The wood is used as fuel in Liberia. In Liberia, a liquor made from the bark is used as a purgative.
The leaves of Dactyladenia barteri grown on acidic sandy soil contain per 100 g oven-dry matter: N 1.7 g, P 0.08 g, K 0.77 g, Ca 0.57 g, Mg 0.25 g, Cu 1.2 mg, Zn 0.8 mg. The leaves and probably also the bark are rich in tannin. The dark red wood is hard and durable and resistant to termite attack.
Prunings have a high C/N ratio (28:1–36:1), lignin (47.6%) and polyphenol (4.1%) content and decompose slowly in the soil, making good mulch material. The mulch has substantial effect on soil temperature, but little direct effect on soil nitrogen. Nitrogen immobilization by decomposing Dactyladenia barteri leaves is counteracted by increased mineralization of soil organic matter under the mulch. The decomposition rate of the mulch is very low (after 100 days as little as 20% may have decomposed, after 6 months about 50%).
Climbing shrub or small tree, up to 12 m tall; bole fluted, often multiple, crooked, up to 25(–40) cm in diameter; bark brittle, slash thin and watery-white, turning reddish; crown dense, spreading; young shoots dark red, covered with whitish, arachnoid tomentum, early caducous; branches more or less scandent, slender, hispid, very quickly glabrescent when young, with numerous lenticels when old. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules often attached near the base of the petiole, linear, 4–6 mm long; petiole 3–4 mm long; blade elliptical-oblong to ovate, 7–13(–15) cm Χ 3–5.5(–7) cm, base acuminate, sometimes broadly acuminate and somewhat asymmetrical, apex acuminate, dark glossy green, turning reddish-brown when senescent, lateral veins in 4–6 pairs, some circular glands often present on the underside of the blade near the base and the apex. Inflorescence a terminal or axillary raceme, single or sometimes in pairs, 3–4(–12) cm long, puberulous, many flowered; peduncle up to 1(–4) cm long; bracts elliptical-lanceolate, 2–4 mm long, tricuspidate, often with circular glands; flowers bisexual, zygomorphic; pedicel articulated, portion below articulation 6–10 mm long, long persistent, bearing 2 alternate, lanceolate bracteoles 1–1.5 mm long, upper portion 5–15 mm long; receptacle tubular, 4–6 mm long, puberulous; sepals 5, 4–5 mm long, puberulous outside; petals 5, oblong-obovoid, 4–5 mm long, white, caducous; stamens 15–20, (15–)25(–30) mm long, ligulately connate for most of their length, far exserted; pistil with 1-locular ovary, a filiform style slightly longer than the stamens, and a 3-lobed stigma. Fruit a single-seeded drupe, compressed-ovoid, 2.5 cm Χ 3.5 cm Χ 5.0 cm, green, surface often ferruginous-tomentose, apex often slightly tuberculate. Seedling with epigeal germination.
Other botanical information
The genus Dactyladenia comprises about 27 species. It has been suggested that Dactyladenia lehmbachii (Engl.) Prance & F.White and Dactyladenia pallescens (Baill.) Prance & F.White, which flower in the same period, may cross-pollinate with Dactyladenia barteri.
Growth and development
The root system is deep, but its lateral expansion in the top layer of the soil is limited. On an ultisol in south-eastern Nigeria, for instance, about 50% of the roots of less than 2 mm in diameter occurred in the top 20 cm of the soil near the stem, whereas at a distance of 120 cm from the tree base this percentage dropped sharply. In Nigeria and Ghana, Dactyladenia barteri usually flowers during the dry season, between October and February. Fruits mature at the beginning of the rainy season, between March and May. Dactyladenia barteri is open-pollinated, the main pollinators being red ants, but occasionally bees and wasps have been recorded.
Dactyladenia barteri occurs in lowland forest up to 300 m altitude with at least 1200 mm rainfall per year, where the mean minimum temperature of the coldest month is about 20°C and mean maximum temperature of the hottest month about 34°C. In the forest savanna transition zone, it is found along river banks. It occurs sometimes on the inland side of mangrove forest. It is well-adapted to leached, acid and infertile soils and can survive occasional flooding. Established trees are fire-resistant.
Propagation and planting
Propagation is mainly by seed. Seed germinates readily. It can be stored for up to 6 months at 15°C when treated with copper sulphate. Direct sowing is possible, but seedlings survive better when raised in nursery bags before planting out. Occasionally, stakes are used as cuttings in live fence systems. Juvenile stem cuttings will also root quickly at the peak of the rainy season.
In traditional cropping systems, Dactyladenia barteri is retained, planted scattered, or in hedgerows. Established trees coppice well, even after pollarding or burning. In south-eastern Nigeria it is planted in hedgerows in a traditional alley cropping system with inter-hedgerow spacing of 2–3 m and with 1–2 years of cropping followed by 3–4 years of fallow. Following the fallow period, the shrubs are underbrushed and burned and stems cut to a height of 10–20 cm. Some stems are left uncut for live staking of Guinea yam (Dioscorea cayenensis Lam.). Crops are then interplanted in the alleys.
Planted at 4 m Χ 4 m spacing, Dactyladenia barteri can produce per ha 6 t dry prunings (leaves and small branches), 4 t twigs and 9 t wood within 8 months, with a nutrient yield of the prunings of 85 kg N, 5 kg P, 43 kg K, 18 kg Ca and 46 kg Mg. In an alley-cropping experiment, Dactyladenia barteri planted in rows 4 m apart at a within-row spacing of 50 cm produced 3.5 t/ha oven-dry litter and 1.4 t/ha dry wood when pruned 22 months after planting. The nutrient content of the prunings was: 65 kg N, 6 kg P, 41 kg K, 33 kg Ca and 13 kg Mg.
Genetic resources
Provenance evaluation and variability studies are needed to reveal the amount of exploitable genetic variation which may exist within Dactyladenia barteri.
There is potential for genetic improvement of Dactyladenia barteri to enhance coppicing, growth and biomass yield.
Dactyladenia barteri has shown promise as a mulch and alley crop in experiments at the IITA (International Institute of Tropical Agriculture) in Nigeria. There is a need to evaluate its potential in other regions of the tropics with high rainfall and acid soils in agroforestry systems to promote sustained crop production on highly weathered soils. Already in use at the IITA as a test tree in alley cropping systems on poor acid soils, it may contribute to the development of such systems in other parts of Africa as well. Dactyladenia barteri has good prospects for fuelwood plantations as it coppices well.
Major references
• Hauser, S., 1993. Root distribution of Dactyladenia (Acioa) barteri and Senna (Cassia) siamea in alley cropping on ultisol. 1. Implication for field experimentation. Agroforestry Systems 24: 111–121.
• Kachaka, B., Vanlauwe, B. & Merckx, R., 1993. Decomposition and nitrogen mineralization of prunings of different quality. In: Mulongoy, K. & Merckx, R. (Editors). 1993. Soil organic matter dynamics and sustainability of tropical agriculture. John Wiley and Sons, Chichester, United Kingdom. 392 pp. (pp. 199–208).
• Kang, B.T., Akinnifesi, F.K. & Pleysier, J.L., 1994. Effect of agroforestry woody species on earthworm activity and physicochemical properties of worm casts. Biology and Fertility of Soils 18: 193–199.
• Kang, B.T., Versteeg, M.N., Osiname, O. & Gichuru, M.P., 1991. Agroforestry in Africa’s humid tropics: three success stories. Agroforestry Today 3: 4–6.
• Letouzey, R. & White, F., 1978. Chrysobalanaceae. Flore du Cameroun. Volume 20. Musιum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. pp. 10-13.
• Ruhigwa, B.A., Gichuru, M.P., Mambani, B. & Tariah, N.M., 1992. Root distribution of Acioa barteri, Alchornia cordifolia, Cassia siamea and Gmelina arborea in an acid ultisol. Agroforestry Systems 19: 67–78.
• Tian, G., Kang, B.T. & Brussaard, L., 1992. Biological effects of plant residues with contrasting chemical compositions under humid tropical conditions decomposition and nutrient release. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 24: 1051–1060.
Other references
• Burkill, H.M., 1985-2000. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 1 (1985), Families A–D, 960 pp.; Volume 2 (1994), Families E–I, 636 pp.; Volume 3 (1995), Families J–L, 857 pp.; Volume 4 (1997), Families M–R, 969 pp.; Volume 5 (2000), Families S–Z, 686 pp. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom.
• Faridah Hanum, I. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (Editors), 1997. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 11. Auxiliary plants. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, the Netherlands. 389 pp.
• Irvine, F.R., 1961. Woody plants of Ghana, with special reference to their uses. Oxford University Press, London, United Kingdom. 868 pp.
• Tian, G., 1992. Biological effects of plant residues with contrasting chemical compositions on plant and soil under humid tropical conditions. Ph.D. thesis, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands. 114 pp.
Sources of illustration
• Faridah Hanum, I. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (Editors), 1997. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 11. Auxiliary plants. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, the Netherlands. 389 pp.
• D.O. Ladipo
Centre for Environment, Renewable Natural Resources Management, Research and Development (CENRAD), 5 Akinola Maja Avenue, P.M.B. 5052, Jericho Hills, Ibadan, Nigeria
• B.T. Kang
Department of Crops and Soil Sciences, University of Georgia, Athens GA 30602, USA
Based on PROSEA 11: 'Auxiliary plants'

• L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, the Netherlands
• R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, the Netherlands
Associate Editors
• S.D. Davis
Centre for Economic Botany, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AE, United Kingdom
• M. Chauvet
INRA Communication, 2 Place Viala, 34060 Montpellier, Cedex 1, France
• J.S. Siemonsma
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, the Netherlands
PROSEA Network Office, Herbarium Bogoriense, P.O. Box 234, Bogor 16122, Indonesia

Correct citation of this article:
Lapido, D.O. & Kang, B.T., 2002. Dactyladenia barteri (Hook.f. ex Oliv.) Prance & F.White. Record from Protabase. Oyen, L.P.A. & Lemmens, R.H.M.J. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources vιgιtales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, the Netherlands.
Distribution Map Dactyladenia barteri – wild

1, flowering branch; 2, flower; 3, flower in longitudinal section; 4, fruit
Redrawn and adapted by PROSEA