Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Hook., Niger Fl.: 500 (1849).
Origin and geographic distribution
Dalechampia ipomoeifolia occurs from Sierra Leone east to Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania.
In Côte d’Ivoire the flowering aerial parts are applied topically to calm costal and rheumatic pain.
Monoecious, twining shrub up to 7 m tall; stems thinly hairy. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules linear to linear-lanceolate, up to 1 cm long; petiole up to 10 cm long; blade triangular-ovate, 4–12 cm × 2–7 cm, sometimes shallowly or deeply 3-lobed, base cordate, glands 1.5 mm long, apex acute to acuminate, margins almost entire to glandular-toothed, short-hairy beneath. Inflorescence axillary or terminal on lateral shoots, with peduncle up to 14 cm long, flowers densely crowded in a male and female part, subtended by 2 large, triangular-ovate bracts, 2–3.5 cm × 1.5–3 cm, these 5-veined from the base and pale green to yellowish; male part of inflorescence a 14–20-flowered compound cyme, surrounded by an involucre 5–6 mm in diameter, on 4–5 mm long peduncle, a central mass of fused bracts at base, covered with resin; female inflorescence an almost sessile 3-flowered cyme, subtended by 2–3 transversely ovate bracts c. 2 mm × 3.5 mm. Flowers unisexual; petals and disk absent; pedicel 1–2 mm long, in female flowers extending to 1.2 cm; male flowers with 4–6, elliptical-ovate sepals c. 2 mm long, pale yellow, stamens 10–20; female flowers with 6 pinnatifid sepals c. 2.5 mm long, extending to 1 cm in fruit, with 6 pairs of linear lateral lobes, densely stiff hairy at margins, hairs white and urticant, ovary superior, 3-lobed, short-hairy, 3-celled, style up to 7 mm long, broadened at apex. Fruit a 3-lobed capsule c. 5 mm × 8 mm, short-hairy, grey or brownish, 3-seeded. Seeds spherical, c. 3 mm in diameter, brown, grey-mottled.
Dalechampia comprises about 120 species and occurs throughout the tropics, but is best represented in tropical America, especially Brazil. In continental tropical Africa 7 species occur, and in Madagascar 9 species. The crushed fresh leaves and roots of Dalechampia clematidifolia Baill. from Madagascar are vesicant and are applied to stubborn ulcers. The aerial parts are used to dye Raphia cloth black. Most Dalechampia spp. are pollinated by bees, which use the triterpene resin produced in the inflorescence in nest construction.
Dalechampia ipomoeifolia is mainly found at forest margins, up to 1200 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Dalechampia ipomoeifolia has a large area of distribution and is relatively common; it is therefore not likely to be threatened by genetic erosion.
Dalechampia ipomoeifolia will remain of local importance only as a medicinal plant. Nothing is known about its active compounds.
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Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2007. Dalechampia ipomoeifolia Benth. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.