Prota 16: Fibres/Plantes à fibres
Notizbl. Bot. Gart. Berlin-Dahlem 3: 100 (1901).
Tiliaceae (APG: Malvaceae)
Origin and geographic distribution
Grewia lasiodiscus is distributed in the West African savanna zone from Senegal to northern Nigeria.
Fibre from the bark is made into cordage. In Senegal the bark is used to cover groundnut baskets. The stem is used for wickerwork, baskets and fish traps, and twigs are used as toothbrushes. The bark is used to precipitate impurities in traditional beer making. The fruit is edible and is sometimes made into a fermented beverage. It is also used as a condiment.
In African traditional medicine a maceration of the root is drunk to treat intercostal pain, female sterility and urinary retention. It is also drunk or used in baths to treat diarrhoea and as a mild aphrodisiac. A paste of the freshly ground root is applied as a poultice on the chest and drunk for treatment of intercostal pain and stiffness of the limbs. The root is also used to control fever, pain and vomiting. The branch and the pounded bark are cooked with food to prepare a sauce eaten against stomach problems. A maceration of the bark fibre is drunk for treatment of diarrhoea and constipation. A maceration of the leaf is drunk to treat urinary retention.
The root contains saponins, tannins and terpenes. An aqueous methanol extract of the root has shown in-vivo anti-emetic activity in 1-day-old chicks. The bark and flowers contain farnesol, which has shown spasmolytic effects on the smooth muscle fibre of intestines and sedative activity in case of over-excitement.
Shrub or small tree up to 6 m tall; branches cylindrical, often entangled, grey-brown, with lenticels, glabrescent; outer bark smooth or fissured and scaly, brown or grey, inner bark orange-pink, sometimes with purple streaks. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules forked, 2–6 mm long; petiole 2–4 mm long, hairy; blade ovate, elliptical or oblong, 2.5–10 cm × 1.5–5.5 cm, base rounded to almost cordate, apex obtuse to pointed, margin toothed, 3-veined from the base, with 4–8 pairs of secondary veins, slightly leathery, stellate-hairy on both sides. Inflorescence an axillary fascicle, 1–4-flowered; peduncle 3–4 mm long. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, c. 2 cm in diameter; pedicel 4–7 mm long; sepals 8–12 mm long; petals linear, smaller than sepals, bright yellow to reddish brown; stamens numerous; ovary superior. Fruit a globose drupe 7–12 mm in diameter, unlobed, brown, hairy, rough, 1–2-seeded. Seedling with epigeal germination.
Grewia lasiodiscus usually flowers at the beginning of the rainy season. In Benin flowering is in April–June, and fruiting in August–December.
Grewia comprises about 150 species, distributed in the tropical and subtropical parts of Africa, Asia and Australia.
Grewia lasiodiscus occurs in the Sudano-Guinean zone of West Africa, in savanna, fallow land and gallery forest. It occurs scattered and usually not frequently, but it may be locally common.
Soaking in sulphuric acid for 60 minutes, followed by soaking in water for 24 hours gave the best results in germination experiments in Burkina Faso, with germination rates of about 40%.
Genetic resources and breeding
In view of its fairly wide distribution, Grewia lasiodiscus seems not threatened by genetic erosion.
Grewia lasiodiscus is a local source of fibre and material for wickerwork, and also provides other useful products, such as edible fruits and traditional medicines. Information on the fibre properties is lacking, making it difficult to assess the prospects for this species. It may gain importance as a medicinal plant, because of its anti-emetic properties.
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Correct citation of this article:
Brink, M., 2009. Grewia lasiodiscus K.Schum. In: Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). Prota 16: Fibres/Plantes à fibres. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.