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Mucuna poggei Taub.

Bot. Jahrb. 23: 194 (1896).
Papilionaceae (Leguminosae - Papilionoideae, Fabaceae)
Mucuna rubro-aurantiaca De Wild. (1913), Mucuna pesa De Wild. (1914).
Vernacular names
Buffalo bean (En). Mucuna de Pogge (Fr). Kihuta (Po).
Origin and geographic distribution
Mucuna poggei is distributed all over tropical Africa, but does not occur in the Indian Ocean islands.
In Togo the stems of Mucuna poggei, collected from the wild, are used to prepare a black dye and in the south of DR Congo (Katanga) a black ink is prepared from the leaf sap. In DR Congo pounded stems are cast into streams to stupefy fish and the ash is used to chase snakes. The thinner branches are used for tying. The seeds are edible and in Nigeria the plant is browsed by cattle. A decoction of the stem is said to cure spear wounds. Crushed bark and leaves are astringent and applied as a poultice to sores, wounds and burns. A root decoction or extract is used to treat dysentery, diarrhoea, malaria, gonorrhoea, hookworm and schistosomiasis. Root shavings are applied as an analgesic against toothache. In Mali a leaf decoction or young leaves are applied externally against herpes. A root decoction is used as a wash to treat paralysis of the legs and yellow fever. A flower decoction is applied in Tanzania against headache.
Mucuna poggei stains hands and iron implements brown-red. Sap of the stem is dark brown and becomes dark red as it coagulates upon exposure to air. The chemical constituents are unknown. Tannins, cyanogenic glycosides and indolic alkaloids have been reported in various Mucuna species and may also be present in this species, contributing to the colouring effect of the sap and leaves. The seeds may also contain the amino acid L-dopa (levodopa).
Large liana up to 30 m long with stem up to 20 cm in diameter, glabrous or pubescent. Leaves alternate, pinnately 3-foliolate; stipules triangular, c. 1 cm long, deciduous; petiole up to 16 cm long, rachis up to 3 cm long; petiolules up to 8 mm long; leaflets rhomboid, ovate or obovate, 10–19 cm × 6–19 cm, base rounded to slightly cordate, apex apiculate or rounded, lateral leaflets very asymmetrical, sparsely appressed pubescent above, densely silvery-grey hairy below. Inflorescence an axillary, pendent, grey to reddish hairy, many-flowered raceme; peduncle up to 20 cm long, rachis up to 32 cm long. Flowers bisexual, papilionaceous; pedicel up to 1 cm long; calyx campanulate, 2-lipped, tube 5–12 mm long, 4 lobes unequal, 2–7(–22) mm long, upper pair joined, densely velvety with bristly, irritant, orange-red hairs; corolla greenish white or yellowish, standard ovate to elliptical, c. 5 cm × 3 cm, wings and keel up to 9 cm long; stamens 10, 1 free and 9 united; ovary superior, 1-celled, style long. Fruit a circular to oblong pod 5–20 cm × 3.5–4 cm × 2 cm, densely covered with deciduous, orange-red, bristly, very irritant hairs, 1–5-seeded. Seeds irregularly elliptical-oblong, curved, compressed, up to 2.5 cm × 2 cm × 1 cm, purple or pale brown with dense dark brown mottling.
Mucuna belongs to the tribe Phaseoleae and is a large genus comprising about 100 species, distributed pantropically. In tropical Africa about 10 species are present. Mucuna poggei is rather variable and mainly based on corolla length and hairiness of the leaflets, several varieties have been distinguished.
Mucuna poggei is found in riverine and swamp forest, in bushland and in thickets, from sea-level up to 2000 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Mucuna poggei is widespread and not in danger of genetic erosion.
Mucuna poggei will probably remain a minor dye source, only locally used. Its irritating bristly hairs on flowers and fruits make it difficult to handle. Nevertheless, the dye and tannin content and pharmacological properties of this and other African Mucuna species deserve research.
Major references
• Burkill, H.M., 1995. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 3, Families J–L. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 857 pp.
• Gillett, J.B., Polhill, R.M., Verdcourt, B., Schubert, B.G., Milne-Redhead, E., & Brummitt, R.K., 1971. Leguminosae (Parts 3–4), subfamily Papilionoideae (1–2). In: Milne-Redhead, E. & Polhill, R.M. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 1108 pp.
Other references
• Adjanohoun, E.J., Aké Assi, L., Floret, J.J., Guinko, S., Koumaré, M., Ahyi, M.R.A. & Raynal, J., 1979. Médecine traditionelle et pharmacopée - Contribution aux études ethnobotaniques et floristiques au Mali. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 291 pp.
• Dahal, K.R. & van Valkenburg, J.L.C.H., 2003. Mucuna Adanson. In: Lemmens, R.H.M.J. & Bunyapraphatsara, N. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(3). Medicinal and poisonous plants 3. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 305–308.
• Haerdi, F., 1964. Die Eingeborenen-Heilpflanzen des Ulanga-Distriktes Tanganjikas (Ostafrika). In: Haerdi, F., Kerharo, J. & Adam, J.G. (Editors). Afrikanische Heilpflanzen / Plantes médicinales africaines. Acta Tropica Supplementum 8: 1–278.
• Hauman, L., Cronquist, A., Boutique, R., Majot-Rochez, R., Duvigneaud, P., Robyns, W. & Wilczek, R., 1954. Papilionaceae (troisième partie). In: Robyns, W., Staner, P., Demaret, F., Germain, R., Gilbert, G., Hauman, L., Homès, M., Jurion, F., Lebrun, J., Vanden Abeele, M. & Boutique, R. (Editors). Flore du Congo belge et du Ruanda-Urundi. Spermatophytes. Volume 6. Institut National pour l’Étude Agronomique du Congo belge, Brussels, Belgium. 426 pp.
• Hepper, F.N., 1958. Papilionaceae. In: Keay, R.W.J. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 1, part 2. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 505–587.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Staner, P., 1936. Plantes congolaises à propriétés tinctoriales. In: Ceuterick, F. (Editor). Agricultura. Louvain, Belgium. 39 pp.
• Vergiat, A.M., 1970. Plantes magiques et médicinales des féticheurs de l'Oubangui (Région de Bangui). Journal d'Agriculture Tropicale et de Botanique Appliquée 17: 295–339.
P.C.M. Jansen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

P.C.M. Jansen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
D. Cardon
CNRS, CIHAM-UMR 5648, 18, quai Claude-Bernard, 69365 Lyon, Cedex 07, France
General editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Jansen, P.C.M., 2005. Mucuna poggei Taub. In: Jansen, P.C.M. & Cardon, D. (Editors). PROTA 3: Dyes and tannins/Colorants et tanins. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.