Prota 16: Fibres/Plantes à fibres
Engl. & Prantl, Nat. Pflanzenfam. II–IV Nachtr. 1: 213 (1897).
Odina schimperi Hochst. ex A.Rich. (1847).
Rusty-leaved lannea (En).
Origin and geographic distribution
Lannea schimperi is distributed from Togo, northern Nigeria and Cameroon eastward to Ethiopia, and from Ethiopia southward through Kenya, Uganda, eastern DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Malawi to Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
In various areas the bark is used to make string and rope. The wood is occasionally used in carpentry, as fuel and is valued for charcoal production. The fruit is eaten fresh, e.g. by children in Nigeria during the rainy season and throughout East Africa. The seed is also eaten. The flowers are probably a source of nectar for honey bees. Branchlets and leaves are eaten by domestic animals.
A decoction of the stem bark is drunk, and the dried stem bark is smoked against backache and general weakness. The bark is also given as enema against dysentery and is applied to treat snake-bites. In western Tanzania the bark is used to treat opportunistic infections in AIDS patients, such as herpes, tuberculosis and diarrhoea. In Mozambique a decoction of the bark is drunk against stomach pain. Juice from the stem bark is given as enema to babies during feeding to avoid vomiting and diarrhoea. In the Nandi district in Kenya people take a decoction of the bark against diarrhoea, stomach pain and chest problems. A decoction of the roots is used as mouthwash against toothache, and is applied against chest troubles, colds and syphilis. The leaves, or leaf sap, are applied against bloody diarrhoea; leaf pulp is applied topically against vaginal prolapse. Unspecified parts are used in Tanzania to treat symptoms of diabetes mellitus. In Mozambique a decoction of the plant is drunk to treat cough. The fruit is taken against hookworm.
The wood is white, lightweight (airdry density about 400 kg/m³), soft and of little value as timber. The stem bark has shown antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and Neisseria gonorrhoeae; it is rich in anthocyanins and contains coumarins. The exudate is rich in the amino acid hydroxyproline. Unspecified parts have shown antifungal activity and a lowering effect on blood pressure.
Small tree up to 10(–15) m tall; bole short, sometimes stunted and low-branching; outer bark grey to nearly black, smooth to rough, inner bark red with vertical orange streaks; crown spreading; branchlets stout and hairy, flower-bearing branches wrinkled. Leaves alternate, grouped at the end of branches, imparipinnately compound with 5–11(–13) leaflets; petiole and rachis 8–33 cm long, slightly grooved above, at first densely pinkish-rusty hairy, glabrescent; leaflets opposite, elliptical, oblong-ovate to ovate, 5–15.5 cm × 3–7.5 cm, basal ones somewhat shorter and broader, acute or obtuse at apex, terminal leaflet symmetrical, acute and on an up to 3.5 cm long petiolule, lateral leaflets sessile or on very short petiolule, asymmetrical, rounded, truncate or subcordate at the base, all at first densely pink-rusty tomentose on both surfaces; midrib fairly prominent beneath. Inflorescence a spike-like panicle, several crowded at the top of short branches, male ones up to 22 cm long, female ones up to 8 cm long, with hairy axis. Flowers in dense bundles; pedicel 1–3 mm long, tomentose; calyx-segments 4, c. 1.5 mm long, ovate to subcircular, ciliolate, stellate-hairy or almost glabrous; petals 4, 3.5–5 mm × 1.5–2.5 mm, oblong-ovate, greenish to bright yellow, fragrant; male flowers with 8 stamens inserted on cup-shaped disk and with rudimentary ovary; female flowers with short staminodes and ovoid to globose, 4-locular ovary of which 2–3 abortive. Fruit an obliquely ovoid drupe 7–10 mm × 4–6 mm, red. Seedling with epigeal germination; first leaves opposite and simple.
Leaves appear after the flowers and the fruits.
Lannea comprises about 40 species in tropical Africa and Asia. The related Lannea zenkeri Engl. & K.Krause is a large tree with a straight cylindrical bole, occurring in Gabon and Cameroon. Its bark is also used for making rope. The branches, which strike root easily, are used as pegs and marking posts. A decoction or maceration of bark chips which has been placed in the sun for some time is drunk against chest complaints.
Lannea schimperi occurs from sea level up to 2200 m altitude, in open forest, woodland and savanna.
Lannea schimperi only occurs wild.
Genetic resources and breeding
Lannea schimperi is widespread and locally common, and there are no indications that it is threatened by genetic erosion.
Lannea schimperi is likely to remain fibre plant of limited importance and occasional use only. Its value as a medicinal and fruit tree is also likely to remain of minor importance, although plant parts have shown antibacterial and antifungal activity and a lowering effect on blood pressure.
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Correct citation of this article:
Oyen, L.P.A., 2010. Lannea schimperi (Hochst. ex A.Rich.) Engl. In: Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). Prota 16: Fibres/Plantes à fibres. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.