Prota 16: Fibres/Plantes à fibres
Kew Bull. 1950: 162 (1950).
Origin and geographic distribution
Haumania danckelmaniana is distributed in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo and DR Congo.
The leaves are used for wrapping food to be baked. They are also made into a range of useful articles, such as cups, funnels and fans. After the prickles have been removed, the stems are used for making carrying devices, hut frames and traps. The split stem and stem bark are plaited into mats, baskets and knife sheaths. The debarked stem is used for making brooms. The prickles are used for grating cassava and wild yam. The roasted seeds are eaten and locally known as ‘peanuts from the forest’. The bark is added to tobacco to strengthen the taste.
In traditional medicine in Cameroon the burnt and pounded root is mixed with palm oil and externally applied on sores and against headache, while the young leaves are applied on snake bites. In Central Africa the leaf sap is drunk as a purgative and against worms, or a decoction of the liana is applied in an enema.
The stem bark is said to be very strong.
Perennial, straggling or climbing herb up to 6 m tall, with rhizome; stem branched, densely covered with recurved prickles. Leaves alternate, imbricate; petiole sheathing for much of its length, 6–23 cm long (including sheath), glabrous, the uncalloused part and the apical calloused part not separated by a joint, transition of the petiole into the midvein marked by a beak on the upper surface, but continuous on the lower surface; blade ovate to ovate-lanceolate, more or less symmetric, up to 25(–27) cm × 12(–13) cm, base rounded to truncate, apex acuminate, pubescence confined to the base of the blade, parallel lateral veins numerous. Inflorescence a raceme, subtended by a lanceolate sheath 3–7 cm long; main axis zig-zag, with at each node an abaxial bract enveloping 3–6 cymules; abaxial bracts spreading at right angles to the rachis, folded, ovate, 1.5–2 cm long, with rounded apex, more or less persistent; cymules each with an adaxial bract, 2-flowered; common peduncle of cymules short. Flowers bisexual, zygomorphic, white, fragrant; bracteole absent; sepals 3, petaloid, free, equal, 3–4 mm long; corolla tubular below, with 3 lobes, tube 4–5 mm long, lobes c. 8 mm long; fertile stamen 1, staminodes petaloid and white with yellow spots; ovary inferior, hairy, 3-locular. Fruit a trigonous capsule c. 3 cm × 2 cm, with rounded angles, covered with conical protuberances. Seeds without aril.
The flowers of Haumania danckelmaniana are pollinated by bees and probably by sunbirds as well.
Haumania comprises 3 species, distributed in central Africa. The similarly used Haumania liebrechtsiana (De Wild. & T.Durand) J.Léonard can be distinguished from Haumania danckelmaniana by its stems without prickles, its abaxial inflorescence bracts 2.5–3.5 cm long, and its sepals c. 11 mm long.
Haumania danckelmaniana occurs in high-rainfall areas in primary and secondary forest, forest clearings, fallows and as a weed in plantations. The shoots and fruits are often eaten by lowland gorillas.
For the preparation of weaving material in Cameroon, the thorns are cut off the stem, which is then split, after which the pith is scraped off.
Genetic resources and breeding
There are no indications that Haumania danckelmaniana is threatened by genetic erosion.
The leaves and stems of Haumania danckelmaniana are locally made into a range of useful articles. There are no reports of the species being overexploited, but the plant may have potential for cultivation for local use, and research on propagation and management practices may be worthwhile.
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Correct citation of this article:
Brink, M., 2010. Haumania danckelmaniana (J.Braun & K.Schum.) Milne-Redh. In: Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). Prota 16: Fibres/Plantes à fibres. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.