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Meiocarpidium lepidotum (Oliv.) Engl. & Diels

Protologue
Notizbl. Königl. Bot. Gart. Berlin 3: 55 (1900).
Family
Annonaceae
Origin and geographic distribution
The distribution of Meiocarpidium lepidotum is limited to Central Africa, where it is found in southern Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Congo.
Uses
The wood is used for implements such as spoons, paddles and oars. In southern Cameroon a maceration of the bark in cold water has been administered to treat fever. Bark decoctions are used as purgative and in a bath to treat abdominal pain and worm infections in babies.
Properties
The heartwood is greenish brown with darker streaks, distinctly demarcated from the whitish to yellowish, soft and flexible sapwood. Some alkaloids, methoxyatherosperminine and N-oxy-methoxyatherosperminine, have been isolated from the bark, as well as the triterpene polycarpol and the lignan meiocarpin.
Botany
Shrub or small to medium-sized tree up to 20 m tall; bole up to 30 cm in diameter; bark surface smooth, grey to dark green, inner bark yellowish brown, becoming reddish upon exposure; twigs densely covered with silvery scales. Leaves alternate, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole 10–12 mm long, grooved; blade oblong to narrowly obovate, 10–20 cm × 3.5–7 cm, cuneate at base, acuminate at apex, papery, silvery scaly below, pinnately veined with 12–17 pairs of lateral veins. Flowers solitary opposite the leaves, bisexual, regular, 3-merous, scaly, pendulous, with lemon scent; pedicel 2–2.5 cm long; sepals free, triangular to ovate, 3–5 mm long; petals 6, in 2 whorls, broadly ovate, c. 2.5 cm × 1.5 cm, fleshy, yellow; stamens numerous, 3–4 mm long, anthers sessile; carpels 3–5, free, 7–8 mm long, each with a sessile stigma. Fruit consisting of up to 5 indehiscent cylindrical follicles up to 5 cm long, silvery-yellow scaly, pulp slimy, each follicle many-seeded. Seeds oblong-ellipsoid, flattened, 1–1.5 cm × 4–5 mm, with endosperm lamellate in 4 parts. Seedling with epigeal germination; hypocotyl 5.5–8.5 cm long; cotyledons leafy, ovate, up to 4 cm long.
Meiocarpidium lepidotum has its fruiting peak in the rainy season. Although the fruits are not palatable and have an unpleasant smell, they are eaten by gorillas and chimpanzees, which may serve as seed dispersers.
Meiocarpidium comprises a single species. It seems to have a rather isolated and ancestral position within Annonaceae.
Ecology
Meiocarpidium lepidotum occurs in the understorey of lowland evergreen and semi-deciduous forest, also in secondary forest. It is locally dominant in the shrub layer.
Genetic resources and breeding
Meiocarpidium lepidotum is in many regions within its distribution area quite common, sometimes even dominant, and is consequently not threatened.
Prospects
The use of the wood for small items such as implements will remain of limited importance. The small size of the tree is a drawback for increased utilization of the wood. The medicinal properties of the bark deserve more attention.
Major references
• Fournet, A., 1979. Plantes medicinales Congolaises: Meiocarpidium, Limaciopsis. Travaux et Documents de l’ORSTOM 111. ORSTOM, Paris, France. 183 pp.
• le Thomas, A., 1969. Annonacées. Flore du Gabon. Volume 16. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. 372 pp.
• Normand, D. & Paquis, J., 1976. Manuel d’identification des bois commerciaux. Tome 2. Afrique guinéo-congolaise. Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Nogent-sur-Marne, France. 335 pp.
• Raponda-Walker, A. & Sillans, R., 1961. Les plantes utiles du Gabon. Paul Lechevalier, Paris, France. 614 pp.
Other references
• Couvreur, T.L.P., 2008. Revealing the secrets of African Annonaceae. Systematics, evolution and biogeography of the syncarpous genera Isolona and Monodora. PhD thesis Wageningen University, Netherlands. 296 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Ngouela, S., Feuya, G., Tchouankeusu, J.C., Achoundong, G., Zambou, R.B.T., Tsamo, E. & Connolly, J.D., 2004. Meiocarpin: a novel lignan from the stem bark of Meiocarpidium lepidotum (Annonaceae). Bulletin of the Chemical Society of Ethiopia 18(2): 221–224.
Author(s)
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands


Editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
D. Louppe
CIRAD, Département Environnements et Sociétés, Cirad es-dir, Campus international de Baillarguet, TA C-DIR / B (Bât. C, Bur. 113), 34398 Montpellier Cedex 5, France
A.A. Oteng-Amoako
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), University P.O. Box 63, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana

Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2009. Meiocarpidium lepidotum (Oliv.) Engl. & Diels. In: Lemmens, R.H.M.J., Louppe, D. & Oteng-Amoako, A.A. (Editors). Prota 7(2): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 2. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.