Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes m้dicinales 1
Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 19: 88 (1894).
Origin and geographic distribution
Erythrococca bongensis occurs from southern Sudan and Ethiopia south to eastern DR Congo, Burundi and Tanzania.
Leaf sap diluted with water is drunk or leaves mixed with butter are eaten against cough. Leaves are eaten against stomach complaints and are given, sometimes in decoction, to children as a fortifier. A leaf decoction is drunk, or used as a wash or vapour bath, against diarrhoea. A decoction of leaves and roots is drunk to expel intestinal parasites. Leaf powder is sniffed against vomiting. An infusion of the leaves is used as a wash to treat skin problems, while a decoction of leafy twigs is applied as a wash to treat rectal prolapse. A decoction of the leaves together with several other plants is taken orally or is applied as an enema against diarrhoea. An infusion of the leaves mixed with several other plants is applied as an enema against various skin infections. A decoction of the leaves, also mixed with several other plants, is given to drink to women whose foetus does not move. Leaves and stems are applied as an enema against haemorrhoids. A decoction of the roots and leaves together with the leaves of Hibiscus fuscus Garcke is drunk against intestinal parasites. An infusion of the root is given as an enema against stomach-ache and indigestion. In Uganda ground leaves mixed with milk are drunk or raw leaves are eaten to expel tapeworm. Root or leaf powder is taken in milk to treat tonsillitis. In Rwanda a decoction of the leaves with salt is given against dehydration, while the residue is rubbed onto the skin.
In veterinary medicine, leaf sap is given to facilitate parturition. A decoction of the leaves is given in serious cases of anthrax and East Coast fever.
The leaves are eaten as a vegetable. The branches are used to make arrow shafts and walking sticks.
No information is available on the pharmaceutical or chemical properties of Erythrococca bongensis.
Fresh leaves contain per 100 g: water 68 g, protein 7.2 g, fat 2.7 g, carbohydrate 18.5 g, fibre 4.3 g, Ca 678 mg and P 107 mg (Leung, Busson & Jardin, 1968).
Dioecious, erect or scandent shrub or small tree up to 3.5(6) m tall; bark pale grey or brown, flaking; branchlets grey-green, hairy when young, becoming glabrous. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules developed into spines c. 2 mm long, straight or hooked, yellowish; petiole (2)39 mm long, hairy, becoming glabrous; blade ovate, elliptical or elliptical-lanceolate, (1)37.5(12) cm ื (0.5)13(5) cm, base cuneate, apex obtuse or rarely acute, margins notched or toothed, pinnately veined with 57 pairs lateral veins, often looped. Inflorescence a head, solitary or fascicled, sessile or with peduncle up to 1.5 cm long; bracts minute. Flowers unisexual; male flowers with slender pedicel up to 12 mm long, flexible, glabrous, calyx with 3(4) lobes, triangular to ovate, c. 1.5 mm ื 1 mm, greenish cream, glabrous, extra-staminal disk-glands 7, small, rounded, inter-staminal glands numerous, angular, truncate, dark green, stamens 915 in 2 whorls, c. 0.5 mm long; female flowers with pedicel up to 4 mm long, calyx lobes smaller, disk glands 3, ovate, flattened, ovary superior, 3-lobed, c. 1 mm in diameter, style c. 1 mm long, stigma fringed, white. Fruit composed of 23 free cocci, each 3.54 mm in diameter, sparingly hairy, greenish or purplish, each coccus 1-seeded. Seed almost spherical, 33.5 mm in diameter, shallowly pitted or netted, aril orange-yellow or red.
Erythrococca comprises about 40 species and is confined to mainland Africa. Several other Erythrococca spp. have medicinal uses in Central and eastern Africa. Erythrococca atrovirens (Pax) Prain occurs in equatorial Africa, extending south-east to Zambia. Leaf sap or a paste from the roots, heated together with lemon juice, is applied to syphilitic sores. Leaf powder is applied to wounds. The leaves are eaten as a vegetable. Erythrococca fischeri Pax occurs in eastern equatorial Africa. A decoction of its root is drunk to treat intestinal worm infections and gonorrhoea. The fruits are edible. Erythrococca menyharthii (Pax) Prain occurs in East and southern tropical Africa. The roots are ground and eaten with honey against cough. Leaf sap is applied as drops in the eye as anti-venom after attacks by spitting snakes. The leaves are eaten as a vegetable and used to add taste to other vegetables. The fruits are edible.
Erythrococca bongensis occurs in forest edges and associated bushland or thickets, especially in fire-protected localities, along rivers and lakesides, in the shade of riverine Acacia forest and in savanna, at 2002450 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Because of its wide distribution there are no indications that Erythrococca bongensis is threatened by genetic erosion.
Erythrococca bongensis has important uses in traditional medicine and as a leafy vegetable. As a recent revision of the genus is lacking and nothing is known on its chemical and pharmacological properties, there is an urgent need for research to verify its potential.
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Correct citation of this article:
Oyen, L.P.A., 2008. Erythrococca bongensis Pax. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes m้dicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.