Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Bull. Mens. Soc. Linn. Paris 2(159): 1260 (1896).
Origin and geographic distribution
Dichostemma glaucescens occurs from Nigeria east to the Central African Republic and south to DR Congo.
In Gabon a stem bark maceration is considered a tonic for nursing women. It is also taken as an emetic. In Congo an infusion of young leaves is taken to treat gastro-intestinal and liver complaints; the leaves are also eaten as a salad for the same purpose. In DR Congo the foul-smelling bark powder applied to the skin repels biting red ants; sometimes it is also put in the nest. Bark powder in water is taken to treat insanity and the bark enters in a mixture to treat male infertility. The sap is applied to teeth to treat toothache. In Cameroon and Gabon the juice of the twigs is an ingredient of arrow poison.
The whitish pink wood is used in house construction and as fuel.
A preliminary test showed that the leaves are rich in tannins.
Monoecious, small, slender tree up to 13 m tall; twigs glabrous, with abundant latex. Leaves alternate, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole 7–12 mm long; blade elliptical-oblong to lanceolate, 8–19 cm × 2.5–8 cm, base cuneate, apex acuminate, firmly papery to leathery, glabrous, glossy green above, glaucous beneath, pinnately veined with 6–8 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence a terminal, pyramidal, loose panicle up to 40 cm long, with powder-like indumentums, branches terminating in a group of 3 flower clusters enclosed by 2 deeply concave bracts, soon falling, leaving conspicuous scars; each flower cluster with cup-like, 4-angled, glandular involucre c. 2.5 mm long, containing 5–10 male flowers, sometimes also with a female flower. Flowers unisexual; male flowers reduced to a single, jointed stamen; female flowers reduced to a stalked ovary, usually 4-celled, with 4 styles fused at base, notched or shortly 2-fid at apex. Fruit a 4-lobed capsule 2.5–3.5 cm in diameter, depressed, appressed hairy with brown to dull purple hairs, 4-seeded. Seeds ellipsoid to almost globose, c. 11 mm in diameter, smooth, brown.
Dichostemma comprises 2 species, which both occur in tropical Africa.
Dichostemma glaucescens occurs in rainforest, including secondary forest, as an understorey tree, from sea-level up to 500 m altitude. It is locally dominant along rivers, e.g. in Congo.
Genetic resources and breeding
Dichostemma glaucescens is common in its area of distribution and therefore not threatened by genetic erosion.
Dichostemma glaucescens will probably remain of local importance only unless chemical and pharmacological analyses reveal interesting compounds or pharmacological activities.
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Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2008. Dichostemma glaucescens Pierre. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.