Prota 16: Fibres/Plantes à fibres
Bull. Jard. Bot. Etat 19: 454 (1949).
Origin and geographic distribution
Haumania liebrechtsiana is distributed in Gabon, Congo, DR Congo and Cabinda (Angola).
The leaves are used for wrapping food and other things. The stems are used for tying, for instance in house construction, for weaving and for making traps for small animals such as rats, crabs and fish. Split stems are used for making arrow cases. Split petioles are used as skewers. In traditional medicine, leaf ash is applied for the treatment of scabies and burns, and seeds ground with kaolin are applied on abscesses.
Perennial, liana-like herb up to 10 m tall or more, with rhizome; stem branched, hairy. Leaves alternate, imbricate; petiole sheathing for much of its length, apical calloused part 2–6 cm long, the calloused and uncalloused parts 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-oblong, more or less symmetric, 10–30 cm × 6–15 cm, base rounded, apex acuminate, pubescence of the lower surface often confined to lines of hairs along the midvein. Inflorescence a raceme c. 10 cm long, subtended by lanceolate sheaths; main axis zig-zag, with at each node an abaxial bract enveloping 3–6 cymules; abaxial bracts ovate, 2.5–3.5 cm long, with acuminate apex, whitish; 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, 10–15 mm long; corolla tubular below, with 3 lobes, tube 7 mm long, lobes 10–12 mm long; fertile stamen 1, staminodes petaloid and white with yellow spots; ovary inferior, densely hairy, 3-locular. Fruit an indehiscent, round capsule, becoming 3-lobed upon drying, covered with rounded protuberances, yellow. Seeds black, without aril.
Haumania comprises 3 species, distributed in central Africa. The similarly used Haumania danckelmaniana (J.Braun & K.Schum.) Milne-Redh. can be distinguished from Haumania liebrechtsiana by its stems with prickles, its abaxial inflorescence bracts 1.5–2 cm long, and its sepals 3–4 mm long.
Haumania liebrechtsiana occurs in primary and secondary forest, along streams and in inundated locations. In the Lopé reserve (Cameroon) densities of over 25,000 stems per ha have been recorded. The shoots are an important food of gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos, and the immature seeds are also eaten.
Genetic resources and breeding
There are no indications that Haumania liebrechtsiana is threatened by genetic erosion.
The leaves and stems of Haumania liebrechtsiana 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 liebrechtsiana (De Wild. & T.Durand) J.Léonard. In: Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). Prota 16: Fibres/Plantes à fibres. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.