Prota 16: Fibres/Plantes à fibres
Fl. Médec. tradit. Rwanda: 119 (1979).
Hippocratea apocynoides Welw. ex Oliv. (1868), Hippocratea guineensis Hutch. & M.B.Moss (1928).
Origin and geographic distribution
Loeseneriella apocynoides is distributed from Guinea eastward to Uganda and Tanzania and southward to Angola, Zambia and Mozambique.
The woody stems are widely used for tying. In Nigeria, for instance, they are a preferred tying material in house construction because of their resistance to termites. Around the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda the stems are in high demand especially for making woven stretchers to transport patients to hospitals, for making carrying and tea-picking baskets and woven pot covers, and for the construction of granaries.
The stems are long, flexible, very strong, lightweight and durable, being resistant to fungi and wood-boring insects. In Uganda stretchers made from Loeseneriella apocynoides last 3–5 years.
Liana usually 10–30 m long, sometimes longer; stem grooved; young branches rusty hairy. Leaves opposite, simple; stipules reduced, hairy; petiole 3–9 mm long, hairy; blade elliptical to oblong or ovate, (2.5–)4–15(–17) cm × 1.5–7(–8.5) cm, rounded to cordate or cuneate at base, obtuse or acuminate at apex, margin entire or rarely toothed, greyish green above, brownish beneath, hairy beneath when young, especially on the veins, with 5–10 pairs of secondary veins. Inflorescence an axillary, simple or compound, dichasial cyme 1.5–9 cm long, sometimes a terminal panicle, axes and bracts rusty hairy, several–many-flowered. Flowers bisexual, regular, 3–8 mm in diameter, greenish, greyish or yellowish, sometimes slightly reddish; pedicel 0.5–3 mm long, rusty hairy; sepals 5, subequal, deltoid, 0.5–1.5 mm long, hairy; petals 5, valvate, deltoid, ovate or narrowly triangular, 1.5–5.5 mm × 0.5–2 mm, hairy; stamens 3; ovary 3-celled, style c. 0.5 mm long. Fruit of 3 dehiscent, flat, elliptical mericarps, each mericarp 4–7 cm × 2–4 cm and 4–6-seeded, reddish brown, glabrous. Seeds 3–4.5 cm × 1–1.5 cm, with a wing with marginal and median vein. Seedling with hypogeal germination.
The Old World genus Loeseneriella comprises about 16 species. Within Loeseneriella apocynoides 2 varieties are recognized.
Growth of Loeseneriella apocynoides is slow. In Uganda it takes an estimated 10–20 years before stems with a diameter of 3–4 cm have formed. After chopping, the remaining part sprouts readily. In Ghana, Benin and Nigeria flowering is in July–November.
Loeseneriella apocynoides occurs at 300–2135 m altitude in damp forest, swamp or temporarily inundated forest, riverine forest, secondary thickets, open gaps in secondary deciduous forest, abandoned fields, and occasionally in forests on slopes or rocky outcrops.
Stems are collected exclusively from the wild. Stems 2–4 cm in diameter are cut at about 30 cm above the ground. After being cut into pieces of a suitable length, they are wound and split into strips that can be used for weaving. Sometimes the stems are stored whole, and when weaving material is needed they are soaked in water for about 7 days, after which they are split. Dried stems can be stored for up to 10 years.
Genetic resources and breeding
The factors length, strength and durability make Loeseneriella apocynoides the most popular species for weaving around the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. As a result the species is seriously overexploited, and even in a protected area like the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park plants stems with a usable diameter have become scarce.
Loeseneriella apocynoides is locally overexploited. To make exploitation of this species more sustainable, it may be worthwhile to investigate the possibilities for its cultivation.
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Correct citation of this article:
Brink, M. & Bosch, C.H., 2011. Loeseneriella apocynoides (Welw. ex Oliv.) N.Hallé ex J.Raynal. In: Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). Prota 16: Fibres/Plantes à fibres. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
wood in transverse section
wood in tangential section