Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes m้dicinales 1
Bot. Soc. Brot. s้r. 2, 27: 101 (1953).
Origin and geographic distribution
Hunteria congolana occurs in DR Congo and Kenya.
In DR Congo and Kenya a decoction or infusion of the bark of Hunteria congolana is taken as an anthelmintic and to treat fever, stomach-ache and diarrhoea. The seeds are taken for the same purposes. A root decoction, mixed with parts of other plant species, is used in DR Congo to make arrow poison.
Some 23 indole alkaloids have been isolated from Hunteria congolana. Eburnamonine (synonyms: vinburnine, vincamone) from the roots and akuammicine and pseudoakuammigine from the seeds have an effect on the vasomotor and respiratory centres of the brain. In tests with rodents and cats oral application gave an increased tonus, increased blood pressure and in some cases strong muscular contractions and even death. Low doses may result in an increase of arterial blood pressure. These activities are comparable to those of strychnine. Pseudoakuammigine is an indirect, reversible and competitive parasympathomimetic.
Shrub or small to medium-sized tree up to 20 m tall, with milky to yellow latex in all parts; bole sinuous or straight, up to 30 cm in diameter, fluted. Leaves opposite, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole 12 cm long; blade elliptical to oblong, up to 18.5 cm ื 6 cm, acute to obtuse at base, acuminate at apex, glabrous, pinnately veined. Inflorescence a terminal or axillary cyme 33.5 cm long, 718(45)-flowered; peduncle up to 1.5 cm long. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous; pedicel 25 mm long; sepals almost free, erect, ovate, 11.5 mm long; corolla white or yellow, creamy pink in bud, tube cylindrical, c. 5 mm long, lobes narrowly ovate to oblong, 48 mm long; stamens inserted in the upper part of the corolla tube just above a belt of hairs; ovary superior, composed of 2 separate carpels, gradually narrowing into the style. Fruit consisting of 2 separate ellipsoid to globose indehiscent mericarps, somewhat flattened, 22.5 cm long, yellow to bright orange, smooth, dull, 13-seeded. Seeds ovoid to ellipsoid, 715 mm long; cotyledons thin, leafy.
Hunteria comprises 12 species, which all occur in Africa. Hunteria congolana, Hunteria umbellata (K.Schum.) Hall.f. and Picralima nitida (Stapf) T.Durand & H.Durand are confused in the literature. Hunteria congolana flowers and fruits throughout the year.
Hunteria congolana occurs in the understorey of primary forest, rarely in secondary forest and gallery forests, at 5001700 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
In DR Congo Hunteria congolana is fairly widespread and it does not appear to be threatened. In Kenya it has been collected only twice on Mount Kulal. The status of the Kenyan population is uncertain but deserves in situ and ex situ conservation.
Hunteria congolana, other Hunteria spp. and also the closely related Picralima nitida deserve more attention from researchers because of the interesting pharmacological activities. Careful distinction of the different species is necessary, as the number and type of alkaloids within each species only partly overlaps with others.
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Correct citation of this article:
Boone, M.J., 2006. Hunteria congolana Pichon. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes m้dicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.