Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Kew Bull. 15: 199 (1961).
Asclepiadaceae (APG: Apocynaceae)
Marsdenia angolensis N.E.Br. (1895), Marsdenia gondarensis Chiov. (1911).
Origin and geographic distribution
Gongronema angolense is widely distributed all over tropical Africa, from Guinea to Zimbabwe.
In Rwanda the thick fleshy roots are eaten by children.
There is no information on the phytochemistry of Gongronema angolense. Leaves of Gongronema latifolium Benth. (a related climber in wet forests in tropical Africa) have shown anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant effects in hepatocytes of non-insulin dependent diabetic rats.
Slender climber, often 3–4 m long, but able to climb to the canopy of high trees, with woody base and fleshy roots, containing latex. Leaves opposite, simple, softly hairy; petiole up to 4 cm long; blade ovate, 5–14 cm × 3–10 cm, base cordate, apex acuminate, margins entire. Inflorescence cymose, composed of 2–3 primary branches divided dichotomously, each division ending in a 10–14-flowered umbel. Flowers bisexual, small, regular, 5-merous, yellow-green; pedicel c. 1 cm long; sepals elliptical-oblong, c. 2 mm × 1 mm; corolla tubular, with campanulate tube up to 4 mm long, lobes elliptical-oblong, c. 2 mm long, spreading; corona lobes as long as stamens; stamens with deltoid to ovate anther appendages, connivent around the stout, roundish style apex. Fruit a pair of leathery, pendent follicles, each one cylindrical, 10–15 cm × 4–8 mm, densely brown-grey hairy.
Gongronema is a small genus comprising 5 species in Africa, much resembling Dregea, formerly described in Marsdenia.
Gongronema angolense is most abundant as a climber in secondary vegetation or in forest edges, in dry localities, from sea-level up to 1800 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Gongronema angolense is common all over tropical Africa and is not in danger of genetic erosion.
More research is needed to determine the nutritive value of the fleshy roots of Gongronema angolense.
• Brown, N.E., 1902–1904. Asclepiadaceae. In: Thiselton-Dyer, W.T. (Editor). Flora of tropical Africa. Volume 4(1). Lovell Reeve & Co, London, United Kingdom. pp. 231–503.
• Bullock, A.A., 1961. Notes on African Asclepiadaceae 9. Kew Bulletin 15: 193–206.
• Beentje, H.J., 1994. Kenya trees, shrubs and lianas. National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya. 722 pp.
• Bullock, A.A., 1963. Asclepiadaceae. In: Hepper, F.N. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 2. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 85–103.
• 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.
• Morebise, O., Fafunso, M.A., Makinde, J.M., Olajide, O.A. & Awe, E.O., 2002. Antiinflammatory property of the leaves of Gongronema latifolium. Phytotherapy Research 16(1): 75–77.
• Ugochukwu, N.H. & Babady, N.E., 2002. Antioxidant effects of Gongronema latifolium in hepatocytes of rat models of non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. Fitoterapia 73: 612–618.
Correct citation of this article:
Jansen, P.C.M., 2004. Gongronema angolense (N.E.Br.) Bullock In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.