Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Dyer, Fl. trop. Afr. 4(1): 509 (1903).
Loganiaceae (APG: Gelsemiaceae)
2n = 20
Mostuea gabonica Baill. (1880).
Origin and geographic distribution
Mostuea hirsuta occurs from Senegal east to Sudan and south through Central Africa to Angola.
In Senegal Mostuea hirsuta is taken as an analgesic. In Cameroon ground young leaves are used as a dressing to treat initial stages of leprosy. In the Central African Republic a root infusion is taken to treat colds. In Gabon and Congo grated roots are used to dispel sleep or as an aphrodisiac with similar action to that of Tabernanthe iboga Baill. It is consumed alone or mixed with Tabernanthe iboga; extended use may lead to cerebral troubles. In Congo leaf or root sap is taken to treat pain; leaf pulp is massaged on painful areas caused by pulmonary infections, abdominal pains and umbilical hernia in infants. A root infusion is taken to treat rheumatism. In DR Congo leaf sap is applied to treat pain caused by caries.
In the Central African Republic the roots are used as an ingredient of arrow poison. The branches of Mostuea hirsuta are used as brooms.
Mostuea hirsuta contains indole alkaloids, probably sempervirin and gelsemine or closely related compounds. Extracts of Mostuea hirsuta have analgesic properties, lower heart action and stimulate respiration in low dosage; high dosage can cause death by paralysis of respiration.
Shrub or undershrub, sometimes slightly scandent, up to 2 m tall; stems erect or decumbent, branched; twigs hairy when young, later glabrescent, dark brown. Leaves opposite, simple; stipules triangular to ovate-elliptical, outside hairy; petiole 0.5–2.5 mm long, hairy; blade obliquely ovate, ovate-elliptical or elliptical, 1–8 cm × 0.5–4.5 cm, base obliquely rounded, apex acuminate, margins entire or obscurely wavy, hairy on both sides. Inflorescence a congested terminal cyme on a short lateral branch, 3–6-flowered; peduncle (1–)2–4(–7) mm long, at apex with 2 large bracts. Flowers bisexual, slightly zygomorphic, 5-merous, heterodistylous; sepals fused to up to half of their length, ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, 1–5.5 mm long; corolla white, sometimes pale yellow or yellow striped at the base, tube funnel-shaped, 7–16 mm long, lobes 3–5 mm × 3–5 mm; stamens free, included or exserted; ovary superior, ovoid, 1–1.5 mm long, glabrous or minutely hairy, usually with stiff erect hairs at the apex, 2-celled, style simple, shorter or longer than the stamens. Fruit a broadly orbicular to broadly obcordate capsule 6–8 mm × 8–12 mm, base obtuse, apex truncate, retuse and mucronate or 2-lobed, glabrous, yellow to dark brown, 4-valved, 2–4-seeded. Seeds plano-convex, obliquely ovate-orbicular, 6–7 mm × 4–5 mm, pale brown.
Mostuea comprises 7 species in Africa and Madagascar and 1 in northern South America.
Mostuea hirsuta occurs in open localities in rainforest or secondary forest, gallery forest or savanna, sometimes in moist localities, from sea-level up to 1000 m altitude. It is resistant to bush fires.
Genetic resources and breeding
Mostuea hirsuta is widely distributed and hence not threatened by genetic erosion.
The active ingredients of Mostuea hirsuta are largely unknown. As related species contain interesting indole alkaloids with antitumour activity, more research into the chemical composition of the plant and pharmacological activities of the compounds of Mostuea hirsuta seems warranted.
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Correct citation of this article:
de Ruijter, A., 2007. Mostuea hirsuta (T.Anderson ex Benth. & Hook.f.) Baill. ex Baker. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.